Heart of Kilimanjaro

Babu climbs Kilimanjaro

Babu climbs Kilimanjaro with heart and resolve

In Kissing Kilimanjaro: Leaving it All on Top of Africa I shared my one experience of climbing Kilimanjaro with my friend Mike and his 73-year old father.  In the end, the 73-year old not only beat me to the summit, he made such a positive impression on the guides and porters while we climbed that they took to calling him "babu," an endearing term for "grandfather."  Babu spent 6 months training for Kilimanjaro, hiking through the streets of Brooklyn with a backpack.  Every day he trekked through all the hustle and bustle of traffic, trains and commuters.  And after 6 days of climbing Kilimanjaro, he made it to the top of Africa. It's been a 7 years since that exciting adventure and babu recently turned 80 years old (however, he still like to count it as 70+10).  All that time he has remained active and physically fit, staying in amazing shape.  However, a few weeks ago he started to feel uncharacteristically weak.  A visit to the doctor revealed nothing but they decided to run a stress test on his heart just be sure.  The results were shocking.  Babu was only getting about 20% of the necessary blood flow to his heart.  We were amazed to learn that this pinnacle of health needed triple bi-pass surgery. They took him in for surgery as the family waited for hours to hear the results.  Time crept by as the surgery continued long after the expected duration.  When the doctor emerged several hours later he informed the family that when they got in there, they learned that babu actually needed a quadruple bi-pass, not the triple bi-pass they originally thought. The good news is that babu is expected to make a full recovery.  "If he wasn't in such good shape he would probably be dead from the blockage."  The doctor pointed out. When I do presentations about climbing Kilimanjaro I often meet climbers who wonder if they're too old for Kilimanjaro.  In babu's case, climbing Kilimanjaro actually helped him stay physically and mentally strong.  So maybe the questions isn't if your health will allow you to climb, but if you're health doesn't need you to climb.
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One Comment

  1. ddorr
    July 6, 2011 | Permalink

    Quick update on Babu. It’s now been several weeks since the surgery and he’s going great. I just spoke to him and he kept referring to it as his “little bump in the road.” Pretty nonchalant for a quadruple bypass surgery!

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