He started by climbing trees, Cheruiyot Kirui’s parents speaks

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The mountaineering community and family of Joshua Cheruiyot Kirui are mourning the loss of the talented climber who died on Wednesday during an expedition on Mount Everest.

Kirui's parents, Wilson Kenduywo and Ruth Kenduywo shared their son's journey and passion for heights, which began at a young age.

According to his mother, Ruth, Kirui developed a love for heights at a tender 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 inside the house because the top seemed so far up," she told the Nation newspaper.

Kirui's father, Wilson, added that his son's passion for climbing only grew stronger with time.

"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 gone to Mt Everest. He had climbed nearly all of them, including Mt Kilimanjaro. That was his work," he said.

A few weeks before Kirui set off to scale the world's highest mountain without supplemental oxygen, the family says he informed them of the daring escapade, which would put both his name and that of Kenya in history books.

As expected, they mounted their support behind their son, just like they always had in his previous endeavours, and were in constant communication as he began to summit Everest.

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

Reports that Kirui's dream of being the first African to summit Mt Everest at a height of 8,848.86 metres without supplemental oxygen was cut short came as a shocker to his family, which had long believed in his capability and resilience.

His mother says Kirui and his team sent a video while they were only a kilometre away from the summit, leading her to panic and hold her breath.

"They reported a video from approximately 800 feet, and informed me that there was just one kilometer remaining."

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," said Ruth.

A day after Kirui and his guide, Nawang, went missing, Everest Today would later announce the discovery of Kirui's body just 48 meters from the summit of Everest.

The spot where Kirui's body was found has been named "Cheruiyot Point" in his honour.

"Let's call Cheruiyot Kirui's death spot on Mt Everest (8848.86 m) 'Cheruiyot Point' in honor of the first African almost to the summit of Everest without using supplementary oxygen," Everest Today, a dedicated organisation that documents mountaineering events in the Himalayas, announced.

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