Three powerful life lessons from Cheruiyot's bold hiking adventure

Mountaineer Cheruiyot Kirui. [Courtesy]

Have you ever hiked a mountain? It’s nerve-wracking, and extremely tiring, yet quite rewarding and fulfilling.

A few years ago, I hiked Mt Longonot with my son David and fellow men from CITAM Church. At 2,776 metres, it’s half the height of Mt Kenya’s 5,199 metres and less than half the height of Mt Kilimanjaro’s 5,895 metres.

Yet, in a real sense, it is no child’s play to hike. As I reached the peak, amid a heavy downpour of hailstones pummeling my body, I felt the sting of a strong wind slapping my tired muscles.

Despite the pain and chill, a smile unfolded deep in my heart as I gazed at the spectacular view around me, feeling a profound sense of fulfilment engulf me. “What a triumph this is!” I thought joyously.

Yet, this experience pales in comparison to the colossal dreams of Cheruiyot Kirui, a mountaineer whose aspirations soared as high as Everest itself, whose peak enjoys the world’s tallest point at 8,849 metres above sea level.

Cheruiyot’s pursuit, much like mountain climbing, symbolises a profound truth: “If you’ve got nothing worth dying for, you’ve got nothing worth living for,” a powerful saying famously quoted by Martin Luther King Jr.

Kirui, in his quiet might, chose to live - and indeed, risk dying - for a vision so stark that it found him scaling Earth’s zenith without supplemental oxygen. This endeavour not only demanded extraordinary physical and mental stamina but also a substantial financial commitment, reportedly costing at least $53,000 USD to embark upon such ascent.

Cheruiyot’s journey teaches us invaluable lessons on multiple fronts: individually, corporately and nationally. Individually, we learn the power of determination. Cheruiyot’s final social media posts echoed a spirit unfettered by earthly bounds, a reminder that our deepest passions are worth the pursuit, regardless of the peaks and valleys.

Think about your deep dreams, your great passions, and your heartfelt endeavours. Ponder the hurdles and valleys that stand between you and your pursuits. Pour your entire heart and commitment into these pursuits and stop at nothing until you achieve your goals.

Corporately, Cheruiyot’s story urges institutions to foster environments where such indomitable spirits can thrive - where visions are not just supported but celebrated.

Businesses, like mountaineers, need strategy and endurance to conquer markets. I urge Kenyan and African companies to stand tall and stride forward, not to be intimidated by celebrated American multi-nationals, but to work symbiotically with them to scale greater business heights.

Nationally, Cheruiyot embodies the resilience required to meet grand visions like Kenya’s Vision 2030 or the global Sustainable Development Goals. His life’s work underscores that even the loftiest goals are attainable through unwavering resolve and collective effort.

Interestingly, though Cheruiyot achieved much in life, it is in his departure that his impact climaxes. Now, more than ever, his legacy transcends personal achievement, inspiring a nation and beyond. It’s a poignant reminder that sometimes, our greatest contributions arise not from the summits we reach but from the trails we blaze.

As we extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends, offering prayers for God’s comfort during this difficult time, we also find solace in the light of his enduring spirit.

This is what I dare call the green life climb - a journey every one of us must undertake, marked by growth, resilience, and the pursuit of something greater than ourselves.

Kirui’s legacy prompts us to consider our own aspirations - what mountains are we willing to climb? As we navigate the tough journeys of our own lives, mirroring the arduous paths of Longonot and Everest, we must remember the lessons each step teaches us.

Let’s honour his memory by pushing not only for personal achievements but also for uplifting of our communities and nation. In this journey of life, we are all climbers, and grand summits await those bold enough to dream and persevere. Think green, act green!