Pro-lifers survive blizzard on Mt. Kilimanjaro, share message from peak: ‘Remember the unborn’ by Emily Mangiaracina for Life Site News
LIFE Runner founder hopes that ‘people could be inspired that we didn’t turn around. That we were willing to suffer those conditions to inspire people to do more for the least of the least.’
Four pro-life warriors had an unexpected brush with danger while climbing to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro, an effort made to inspire pro-lifers to work harder for the unborn.
In proclaiming their message “Remember the Unborn” from a literal mountaintop, the team hoped to spark life-saving work. As it turned out, the mountain climbers’ own lives were threatened during the last leg of their four-and-a-half day hike up Mt. Kilimanjaro.
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The climbers were among pro-life witnesses invited by Archbishop Ruzoka of Tabora to Tanzania to discuss the “how” and “why” of LIFE Runners’ pro-life mission, testimony they shared last month as they visited an albino orphanage, an in-the-works Ifucha Divine Mercy Shrine in Tabora, a convent, and a monastery. A contingent of the group ended their trip with a climb to the top of the world’s highest free-standing mountain rise.
“The Mt. Kilimanjaro week was to inspire the Body of Christ pro-lifers to do more: to pray more, to stand in front of the abortion facility in prayer, to speak up, to encourage,” Dr. Pat Castle, the founder of Life Runners, told LifeSiteNews last Friday over the phone.
The group included Bishop Joe Coffey of the U.S. military archdiocese, who had already climbed the mountain twice. The team was expecting the trek to be challenging, said Castle, “but we did not calculate [that] it could be life-threatening.”
Castle described the experience to LifeSiteNews as a kind of “refiner’s fire.” As the group made their final, steep ascent up the mountain at midnight, they were swept up in a full-fledged blizzard: high winds, sub-zero temperatures, and visibility so bad, their guide was lost for two hours.
“All of us were concerned that we might not survive,” said Castle. This “inspired intense prayers with every step for hours.”
“Our guide told us afterwards, people die up here in those conditions,” he continued. “I suppose if we got disoriented any more or lost in that blizzard, someone could have been overcome by the elements, because there was no cell phone coverage, there was no medical help. The closest help would have been two or three hours down that mountain.”
Castle, who is himself retired military, has raced up the 14,000 ft Pikes Peak mountain in what is dubbed “America’s Ultimate Challenge,” and has led a marathon on the Great Wall of China. Even against these accomplishments, his Mt. Kilimanjaro climb was in many aspects, he told LifeSiteNews, “the hardest thing I’ve ever walked through.”