May 25th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Geographer reaches Mount Everest summit

[Updated at 10:07 a.m. ET] According to Chris Tomer, meteorologist and best friend of Mount Everest climber Jon Kedrowski, the climber has successfully reached the summit of Mount Everest.

At 3:30 a.m. in Nepal, Kedrowski's ascent ended well, amidst a "perfect weather window." Tomer posted an entry on the climber's Everest blog to let those following Kedrowski's journey know on the morning of May 26. Saturday marks the official end of the Everest climbing season.

Since beginning his ascent of Mount Everest in April, geographer and professor Jon Kedrowski has celebrated a birthday, used a constant stream of basketball metaphors to fuel his journey and witnessed tragedy that still gives him "demons."

He has also endured an attack from a yak that got out of line on April 13, and continues to carry a little red toy car to the summit, in honor of a young girl, Ryan Marie, who died too soon. The mini car was her favorite.

With help on the ground from his best friend, Denver meteorologist Chris Tomer, Kedrowski has been blogging his ascent.

His live blog, "No Off Days," reveals details both cheerful and chilling, from forming new friendships with fellow adventurers to trying to aid and rescue fallen climbers during Monday's tragedy on the mountain. Four people died due to a combination of bad weather and overcrowding on Everest.

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The assistant professor in Central Washington University's geography department has climbed countless mountains, and in 2011, he became the first person to camp overnight on the top of Colorado's 55 "Official 14ers," - peaks over 14,000 feet.

But Kedrowski, true to his profession, isn't climbing Everest just for fun. He regards his expedition as having a three-pronged approach.

Kedrowski wants to scale Everest in an eco-friendly manner, work with the Mount Everest Biogas project to test and study water quality from the melting ice, and give back to the Nepalese people through humanitarian initiatives, according to his website.

Because of the high amount of waste left by climbers, concerns over the water and ice quality have increased in recent years.

On April 17, Kedrowski posted on his blog that he and his climbing team had reached the Mount Everest Memorials. He was especially saddened to see Scott Fischer's memorial. The American died in 1996, Everest's worst year to date.

In the days that followed, he described seeing a trail of dried blood down the side of a crevasse, where a Sherpa didn't clip onto the line and lost his life. A constant stream of falling rocks and rough weather also halted his climbing team, and those ascending and descending the Lhotse Face.

"If anything, seeing this further focused my attention. I’ve had many wake-up calls throughout my career in the mountains, and this was no different. You never decide that you want to die up there in the mountains, but you do get to control certain things," he wrote.

At the beginning of May, Kedrowski began to describe the "deadly traffic jam" that others have blamed for the recent Everest tragedies. Slow-moving crews of climbers and even cameramen clogged both routes for those ascending and descending.

He showed an increasing frustration at not being allowed to begin his climbs earlier in the morning to avoid the snarl of traffic and bad weather.

Before May 21's tragedy, Kedrowski described seeing 300 climbers trying to summit, with high winds and brutal weather conditions that made frostbite inevitable. The bad weather only served to trap the surplus of climbers.

Tomer jumped into the blog's narrative when communications from Kedrowski became sparse. He detailed that Kedrowski was still "battling demons" from trying to rescue climbers that "were disoriented, frostbitten, sick and totally exhausted."

Tomer said the tragedy occurred because the jet stream, which Everest pierces because of its elevation, backed itself over the summit, leaving climbers caught in 80 mph winds.

This caused Kedrowski to change his tactics, moving lightly and quickly while skipping two camps in the ascent to the summit, which is rarely ever done, according to Tomer.

Tomer expected a "24-hour weather window" that should allow Kedrowski to summit safely Friday night or Saturday. The winds are forecast to return Sunday.

Kedrowski responded to Tomer's warnings that he expected 100 climbers to attempt to summit at the same time. Many of the others have left after Monday's tragedy and "the sound of helicopter rotor-chop is constant," he said.

Kedrowski remains determined and optimistic about reaching the summit. Because of his background as a basketball coach for kids, the metaphors of progressing from the "sweet 16" to the "elite 8" part of his journey are present in nearly every post.

"I’ve been climbing mountains since I was a kid, and I’ve become only as good as the mountains have let me become," he wrote. "Its [sic] time for the mountain to decide, but I’m gonna give it my all. Every mountain I’ve ever climbed, [...] I’ve always played “Everest” in my head, I’ve always rehearsed what I’d do on each day.  Then comes Summit Day. It’s gonna be the greatest game I’ve been able to play."

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Filed under: Mount Everest • Nepal
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. TvNyC

    Im the man. Respect yourself before respecting others. Respect others after you respect yourself.

    May 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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