Cheruiyot Kirui’s mother: I held my breath hoping he would come back to us after summiting Everest

Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui was a mountaineer celebrated and admired by many. His exploits are quite colourful, and even his parents knew it. They expressed hope that his latest endeavour would bring glory not only to him, but to Kenya as well.

In Chepterit village, Nandi County, Kirui’s father, Wilson Kenduywo, recalls one of their last conversations before his son’s death. Kirui was on the verge of becoming the first African to summit Mt. Everest without supplemental oxygen.

“Three weeks ago, we talked. He called and asked if I could set up WhatsApp so we could communicate better,” his father said.

Tragically, things took a dire turn when Cheruiyot’s brother called their parents with heartbreaking news: Kirui was among those missing while summiting Mt Everest.

Ruth Kenduywo, Kirui’s mother, recounted, “They said there was a video from around 800 feet or so, and I was told only one kilometer was left. When he began that last stretch, it was like I was holding my breath, just wanting this climb to end so he could come back alive.”

Kirui’s passion for climbing started at a young age.

“He started by climbing trees. We had Cypress and Blue Gum trees in our compound, and he would climb to the top. I would get scared for him and would just go in the house since reaching the top seemed so far high up,” Kirui mother said.

His talent for mountaineering was evident, and his family knew he was well-versed in safety measures.

Kirui’s father, added, “It was his hobby, and he felt successful because he had climbed many mountains around the world. I heard he had come from Argentina and went to Mt. Everest. He had climbed nearly all of them, including Mt. Kilimanjaro. That was his work.”

Mrs Kenduywo also shared, “Recently, we saw he had started climbing mountains. He climbed Mt. Kenya many times and even wrote a book about mountaineering. The first one was when he went to the Alps for six days. He called it a six-day marathon—I don’t remember the exact title—but it was an awesome climb. He knew how to manage his body to endure mountaineering.”

The family looked forward to his success, believing it would have been good for Kenya.

Mr Kenduywo said, “It would have brought great recognition to the country because he would have proudly said he was from Kenya. I believe he was the only Kenyan aiming to bring such honor to our nation.”

As the family copes with their deep loss, they hold on to the fond memories of their son.

Read more: Cheruiyot Kirui’s mother: ‘Whenever I would dream he was in danger, I knew he was climbing a mountain’

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