A tough personal barmitzvah challenge

  • CommunityBarmyBoy
King David Victory Park scholar Jude Kapeluschnik took on a personal pre-barmitzvah challenge he’d set himself: climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
by Staff writer | May 10, 2018

“I thought that walking to the highest point in Africa would be a good challenge, the perfect rite of passage to do before my barmitzvah,” said Jude on his return last week.

What he didn’t count on was just how much of a challenge it would be.

“Although my parents realised it would be freezing, hard to breathe and not fun at all, my mother said I used soft force to get them to allow me to go,” he says.

He and his father, Colin Kapeluschnik, set off as part of a 14-person team from Moshi, in northern Tanzania, with their hiking poles and 20 degrees below-freezing sleeping bags.

“Our trek was six slow days. The slower you go, the more chance of acclimatising to the altitude – so the more chance of making it to the top,” he recalls.

“After walking for four days with no showering – washing was with rationed wet wipes – and on little sleep, we were ready to summit. On Saturday night, which signalled day five, the guides woke us up at 11pm so we could leave at midnight.

“We set off and after two hours, I was feeling so tired from lack of sleep and oxygen that I vomited – not unusual in the high altitude,” he says.

After his oxygen levels were checked by the guides, he lay down briefly and then continued “the slow trudge through the white snow” up the mountain.

With no more water, Jude’s dad gave him his.

“We continued and instead of growing weaker, I seemed to get into my stride and felt stronger. Because it was so freezing, our water froze. Since we had to keep hydrated, we ate snow.

With an hour to go, Jude asked the guide, Lucus, if he thought they would make it.

“He replied: ‘In your condition, 100%.’ As tired as I was, I was so happy. And we hadn’t actually made it yet.

“The last hour towards the summit, Uhuru Peak, was hard. It was steep, snowy and dangerous. If you fell, you could die.

“When I summited – at 5 895 metres above sea level – I saw the sign that marks the top, and I just lay down next to it.

“I felt happy, on top of the world – at the top of Africa, to be precise.”

Now, all that’s left for Jude to do is to get ready to read his portion on the bimah in front of all his friends and family. After this experience, it should be a breeze.


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