July 27, 2010
Sometimes I have the opportunity to help school groups by offering words of encouragement. Particularly for blind students, hearing it from another blind person means more than what a sighted person tells them.
Recently my friend Chris Lynch asked me to speak to his group of students before they made a grueling climb of Mount Baldy. At 10,064 feet, this is the highest point in Los Angeles County and the third highest peak in Southern California.
Chris is a 52-year-old grandfather of two boys, a former scout leader, and an avid adventurer. He started climbing when he was 15 years old and has climbed approximately twenty different peaks including Mount Whitney, Mount Shasta and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Over the preceding four months, Chris took 14 blind students and 22 sighted volunteers on a series of seven training hikes in the region. For a variety of reasons, not all could join the attempt on Baldy. But those who did were in for a long, hard day on the trail.
While I couldn’t be there in person, Chris asked me to record a message for the team that he would play before the start of their climb. I can’t claim credit for getting them to the top—they did that all on their own—I do hope I gave them some inspiration for the times when things were bleak. Here is my message to the team:
A few days later, Chris wrote to say, “On Saturday, July 17th, we achieved our goal and 8 people who never thought it would be possible for them to climb a mountain, stood atop the summit. Also, a documentary film of the adventure is being produced and if you go to www.baldyfortheblind.com you can view a trailer and read more about the program.”
A big congratulations to all of the students and their sighted guides for their successful ascent!