Keith Slater celebrated his 40th birthday by climbing Mount Rainier. That was 20 years ago.
He raised the bar by 5,000 feet for his 60th, and celebrated the summit feeling on Mount Kilimanjaro with his 15-year-old son, Buddy.
“A friend who was on the Rainier climb was working in Africa and suggested we come and join her for the climb,” he said. “I couldn’t pass it up.”
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak on the African continent, “but it’s not the deepest part of the jungle, if you know what I mean,” he said. “It’s set up for tourism. There are a lot of guide services and a lot of Westerners. We’ve had wilder experiences on our family trips out of Priest Lake, in some respects.”
But the trip was a milestone, Slater said, noting that he and Buddy had never been higher.
“Altitude can get to you no matter how young or old you are,” he said. “I think Buddy felt the altitude as much as I did as we worked up to the top at 19,341 feet.”
After the climb they paid a visit to the Amani Children’s Home for orphans near Moshi, Tanzania.
It was a low-key but powerful counterpoint.
“We’ve had adventures, and Buddy’s been to other countries, but this was more Third World than he’d ever seen,” Keith said.
“I think the children’s home had a huge impact, the kind that hits you between the eyes when you realize we don’t all live in Spokane with wonderful family situations.”
Best of all was simply spending a solid block of nearly three weeks with his son.
“That’s a rare opportunity with a kid who’s entering his sophomore year in high school,” he said.
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