On top of the world
FL man conquers Kilimanjaro, raises $100K to fight son’s disease
Two weeks ago today, Dennis Forster stood on top of the world. In a sense, he has yet to come down.
The Forest Lake adventurer scaled Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro last month, reaching the 19,341-foot summit Jan. 24.
As expected from the 30 percent of climbers who succeed in their attempt to scale the planet’s tallest free-standing peak, Forster says the feat changed his life forever.
“It was awesome; just the most amazing experience,” he says. “Words can’t really describe everything.”
Back at a lodge after the descent, the 45-year-old bought time on a computer to talk with his sons, ninth-grader Christian and seventh-grader Dawson. Those two hours provided another mountain-top experience.
“To see my boys’ reaction was pretty cool,” Forster says. “It’s one thing to be proud of your son, but when your son says, ‘I’m proud of you, dad,’ you get a big lump in your throat.”
The boys, along with their mom, Annette, indeed have reason to be proud: Through his climb, Dennis raised approximately $100,000 to fight cystic fibrosis, the lung disease Christian battles.
The family helped raise $17,000 locally, and the rest came when the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation got behind the effort with a national campaign.
Forster’s climb went as well as could be expected, though his father, Frank, turned back after three days.
“I felt absolutely wonderful up till about 16,000 feet,” Forster says.
Then came headaches and vomiting. The last few hundred vertical meters were “brutal” and Forster has little recollection of his 20 minutes at the summit. (He did point out that at -5 degrees, the mountain’s top was warmer than the temperature here that day.)
“I thought I was in really good shape, but the mountain taught me I wasn’t,” he says.
Forster and his dad finished their trip with a four-day safari where they witnessed a lion catching a buffalo and an elephant giving birth. All in all, the adventure strengthened his resolve for plans to run with the bulls in Spain and climb a mountain in Chile.
“It’s got me more jacked up for it,” he says.
Forster will present on his Mount Kilimanjaro experience at each of Faith Lutheran Church’s services this Sunday. They begin at 7, 9 and 10:30 a.m.