A climb about more than reaching Kilimanjaro's summit



August 21, 2005|By CANDUS THOMSON

COURT GARY ought to have a T-shirt that reads, "I went to Kilimanjaro and all I got was a crummy headache."

That would be funny and partially true.

But even though they fell a wee bit short of their goal, the Mount St. Joseph High School graduate and his father, Mike, got a lot more from their attempted climb of the 19,340-foot peak, the highest in Africa.

Let us count the ways:

The Howard County residents raised more than $5,000 to help build the Children's House at St. Casimir in Baltimore that will provide long-term lodging for patients getting bone marrow transplants at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and their families.

They got to spend some serious time together before college and the rest of life fills Court Gary's dance card.

The younger Gary has a "How I Spent my Summer Vacation" essay to beat the band. So does the older Gary.

Still, there was that headache thing.

"I thought I would be the culprit," says Mike Gary, 47, who has jumped out of airplanes and mamboed with the bulls at Pamplona. "There was nothing easy about it. Going down was just as tough as going up."

The two climbers worked their way up to high camp at 14,400 feet and set out at midnight on summit day.

At 16,000 feet, Court got a headache - altitude sickness - that got worse the higher they climbed. The headache added a stomachache for company at 17,000 feet. Finally, at 5:30 a.m. and about 18,600 feet, the Garys threw in the towel.

"It was 900 feet away. I saw it. I could have reached out and touched it. We still had about an hour to go," Mike Gary says. "Could I have left Court and gone on? Sure. But that's not what it was all about. It was about me and him. We've had a heart-to-heart about it and we're OK with it. There were no guarantees."

The two made their way back to base camp, and after 80 winks, the younger Gary was back to his spunky self, enough so that he is planning his return.

"He's a man on a mission," says the old man.

You can learn more about their climb and the Children's House at St. Casimir by visiting www.believeintomorrow.org.

Standing up for menhaden

One final outburst about the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission menhaden vote last Wednesday, and then I promise to shut up for a while.

For a time, it appeared as though the menhaden meeting was a wholly owned subsidiary of Omega Protein.

The company wrote its own ticket (a voluntary cap 25 percent above last year's catch), found a shill to propose it, refused to consider a compromise and left with a Snidely Whiplash "you'll be sorry" cloud trailing behind after its production was finally derailed by a 12-2 vote.

It takes a lot of gall for a commission charged with protecting East Coast fish to take up a self-serving proposal of the very industry it is supposed to be regulating before considering a plan reviewed by more than 400 people at 12 public hearings and the subject of about 20,000 pieces of correspondence.

Alpha may come before omega in the Greek alphabet, but with ASMFC, Omega goes to the head of the class.

Not only did commission chairman Jack Travelstead allow the bulk of the discussion to be about Omega's "trust us" proposal, but when an ASMFC member tried to amend the plan to reduce its annual catch from 131,000 metric tons to 115,000, the good chairman ruled him out of order. Only, of course, after asking Omega's representatives "pretty please" if they would consider it, and having the suits say no.

Luckily, the majority of the ASMFC had a little more gumption and sided with Maryland's representatives, Howard King of the Department of Natural Resources and Bill Goldsborough of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Now, let's see if Virginia reels in its beloved menhaden fleet.

In case you missed it

Public hearings aren't everyone's cup of tea. Hemlock, maybe.

Forty-one hunters and interested civilians were at last Monday's hearing on this year's proposed late waterfowl season. As a public service for the 5.5 million residents that had something better to do, like wash and wax the lawn, here is the CliffsNotes version.

The two-goose daily bag limit proposed by wildlife managers is better than one and much preferable to none. Unless, of course, you are a feathered resident of the Atlantic Flyway population.

There are lots of resident "golf course" geese, or flying poop dispensers, in need of a new address, specifically Goose Heaven. The state would like the population to be about 30,000, but it is nearly three times that. There are plenty of waterfowlers willing to provide a relocation service if only the season could be extended past Feb. 15. This appears to be a match made in heaven awaiting action by federal regulators.

From now on, small Canada geese are to be addressed by their formal name, "cackling geese," because they have different DNA than their big brothers and sisters. It also eliminates name calling, which can cause stressful molting in the smaller birds and lead mother geese to say, "He's big for his age."

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