An excerpt from the December issue of BOOK FUN
Magazine:INTERVIEW and STORY by PHILIP YANCY!
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Philip Yancey's greatest moment of personal satisfaction occurred at about noon on August 15, 2007, when he reached the summit of South Maroon Peak, one of the "Maroon Bells" near Aspen, Colorado. For Philip, this was the final peak of the fifty-four "fourteeners" that are found in Colorado's Rocky Mountains, all owing their moniker to the fact that they top fourteen thousand feet in elevation - roughly 4,000 feet higher than airplanes can fly without auxiliary oxygen. Ponder this the next time you hear the flight attendant say that your plane just passed 10,000 feet so you may now use your electronic devices.
"My wife and I climbed three or four each summer," Yancey said. "It took fifteen years of the most challenging, scary, harrowing, and even sometimes terrifying effort imaginable. When you're above timberline, you might as well paint a target sign on your backpack for the lightning, as you're the tallest thing out there. The only way to avoid summer afternoon storms is to start very early in the morning. But sometimes you get stuck in the open no matter what you do. For example, on the day Janet and I summited Mt. Wilson we were still well above the safety of timberline when dark clouds moved in and the skies opened up to pelt us with sleet and hail. Lightning struck closer and closer.
“I asked our experienced companion what we should do.”
“There’s really not much you can do,” he replied. “The granite rock conducts electricity. I’d recommend separating by at least a hundred yards or so—that way if one of us gets hit, another can go for help. And squat down with your feet together to make yourself as small a target as possible.”
“My wife and I looked at each other. Finally I shrugged and said, ‘Honey, we’ve had a good life. Let’s go together.’ We ditched our buzzing hiking poles and squatted down, as our friend suggested, but side-by-side, holding hands"....
Go to page 253 for the rest of the story
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