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Why Risk My Life on a Mountain?

17 Nov Posted by in Jody Cole | Comments Off on Why Risk My Life on a Mountain?
Why Risk My Life on a Mountain?

In 1998, I had an epiphany. I was busy whining to my friends and to myself about how useless my life had been up to that point, and when you’re in that place in your life sometimes it takes just the right word to change your life forever. By the end of 1998, I had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and followed that with chairing the committee which raised the money to build the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. The few words a dear friend said to me was a question, “If you died tomorrow, what would you regret?” Of course, my answer was traveling to Africa. And if you know me, that included summiting a mountain!

Back in 1998, I was in my mid-thirties, which for women is definitely a turning point time both physically and mentally. I was fit, which is what just walking around San Francisco does for you; a gym bunny at World Gym, dancing, loving, and as you know already, whining.

Climbing that mountain in 1998 was the hardest thing I had ever done. Period. Just because you don’t clamp on the crampons and use ropes up sheer rock face, it’s the silent killer of Kilimanjaro – altitude – that claims approximately 100 climbers a year who attempt it. You feel like you feet are made of lead, your heart is doing double time, your brain is just trying to keep focused on the next step, and all the while you questioning why the hell you decided to do this thing.

Now it is 2010 and in January 2011, I am attempting the mountain again. Hearing of all the many teen suicides, teen bullying, homeless LGBT youth, really brought home to me the importance of equality in society. I have been a tireless Equality California board member, raising funds to finance the political struggle towards marriage equality. But now I see an even bigger goal – equality says “you’re okay”. Equality means you can do it all. Equality means respect and dignity. Equality is a right for all of us. My climb will take me to a distant continent and up over 19,340 feet (5882km). And by raising funds for Equality California, I can say to myself and hopefully to others, that we are worth it. We all have a right to climb up our personal mountains and reach the summit. And even if don’t make it all the way, at least I can say I tried my best. And it will be the hardest thing I have ever done.

To donate to Jody’s climb go to

Jody Cole is Owner and Licensed Field Guide at Wild Rainbow African Safaris. Wild Rainbow  is a boutique adventure travel company specializing in safaris to sub-Saharan Africa. Providing gay and lesbian travelers and their friends and families with a safe and comfortable safari while indulging them with customized service, exceptional lodgings, and  amazingly close contact with the wildlife, culture and spirit that is Africa.

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