On Wednesday night, the two drifted in and out of sleep while tracking their mother’s final trek to the top of Everest in Nepal through a GPS watch that she was wearing on her climb.
Khumalo summited the highest mountain in the world, standing at 8848m just after 5am yesterday, as part of the Summits with a Purpose movement. The fund-raising initiative to scale the seven highest peaks in the world started in 2013.
It raised more than R1million within the first five years for literacy and education.
In 2003, motivational speaker and mountaineer Sibusiso Vilane was the first African man to summit Everest.
The Star visited Khumalo’s Weltevreden Park, Joburg, home on Thursday where her two sons beamed with pride when they talked about their dedicated mother’s feat.
This was her fourth attempt. In 2017, she was rescued by helicopter from the mountain after she was injured.
Her other attempts were unsuccessful because of bad weather.
Azinkosi said: “At first, we didn’t worry about her climbing but after her accident, we started to. But you realise that you must allow people to do the things they love.
“It is a relief that she has made it; we’re looking forward to her coming home.”
Ocacile said the hiking bug didn’t get passed on to them.
“We do go hiking with her but only for the short ones. If it’s a long trail, we usually just go cycling.”
In about two days, the Zambian-born Khumalo would for the second time be airlifted from Mount Everest Base camp to hospital, but this time as someone whose name would go into the history books.
But getting back to base camp is not easy, warns adventurer Sean Disney. He has climbed all the seven summits.
“It does have its risks. Five-thousand people have tried Everest since 1953 and about 400 people have been killed on the mountain.
“She will be tired and it is very steep. She will have to go down very slowly.”
But Disney said he has a lot of faith in Khumalo. “She has a lot of experience. She has climbed Kilimanjaro and other mountains.”
Scaling Mount Everest was the fourth of her seven targets. The other mountains she has conquered were Kilimanjaro, Elbrus in Russia and Aconcagua in Argentina.
Azinkosi said: “The others will be a breeze. Everest was the hardest and she did it.”