Climbing 55 Colorado summits provides great training ground for Mt. Everest
By Mary Jeneverre Schultz | Twitter: @Jeneverre
Have you made your New Year’s resolution? Does that resolution include staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? Why not push yourself to consider climbing a Fourteener in Colorado.
Not only will you challenge yourself physically but can stand in awe on top of a Fourteener to take in the beatific views of Colorado mountains.
While the numbers of Asian Americans are mixed in with the general population, the increase of interest has risen through the years. About 500,000 people hiked one of the Fourteeners each year, according to an estimate by the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a group that works with the U.S. Forest Service to protect and preserve these peaks.
Climbing one Fourteener is a bucket list item for most people but for mountain geographer and accomplished climber Dr. Jon Kedrowski, he hiked and slept on top of all Fourteeners as a way to prepare himself for his Mount Everest climb last spring.
Since June, the launch of the book Sleeping on the Summits, Kedrowski along with his colleague and meteorologist Chris Tomer promoted the book to discuss their insights about climbing and their book collaboration about sleeping on all the summits throughout Colorado.
Kedrowski, a Colorado native, climbed Mt Everest for the second time, a feat he accomplished in May 2012. His international climbing expeditions included mountains in Kyrgyzstan in 2006.
The climbing season is during the spring months of March and April, bringing in more than $100 million to the coffers of Nepal, according to Kedrowski. An average climb to Mt. Everest could cost upwards of $100,000 per climber in supplies, climbing permits and hiring sherpas, locals who assist in carrying gear. Kedrowski estimated his personal costs of $30,000 because he did not hire a sherpa nor did he purchase fancy mountain equipment or high-priced mountain gear. A major cost included the climbing permit, totaling about $11,000.
The biggest chunk of time is spent acclimating to the high altitudes of these mountains. Kedrowski’s goals is climbing 1,000 feet a day, and then resting his body for the physical exertion of the climb.
Between each climb, Kedrowski stayed busy, updating his blog and collecting water samples for a Seattle-based research company. The research is attempting to determine if pits, containing waste matter, are leaking into the area.
Images of Lukla, Nepal are shown at the beginning of the slide presentation. In a video, Kedrowski shows a “Starbuck’s coffee house” and market stalls selling climbing gear, backpacks or other necessities before continuing the climb. The landing strip for airplanes is a memorable sight – showing the extreme drop off at the side of the mountain. The airport allows travelers to cut their trip down from an average of a 10-day hike to this destination. To make it relevant for a Colorado audience, Kedrowski compared Lukla to the elevation of Breckenridge.
Kedrowski was the only American on a team of eight international members. He summitted Mount Everest on May 26 at 3:30 a.m., waiting for the sunrise. This was his second attempt during this trip. The first attempt was marred by four people who died while climbing down the southern slope of the mountain during a weekend in early May after reaching Mount Everest’s 29,028-foot summit.
Last month, Kedrowski shared his mountaineering experience at Parker’s Wildlife Experience. “Locally, our mountains are worthy of respect and definitely inspire people of all kinds to get outside,” said Greg Masinton, marketing and promotion manager for the Wildlife Experience. “We hope to simply inspire our members and guests to get outdoors and experience what is possible in our beautiful outside world.”
The presentation showed a combination of photographs and videos to demonstrate the harsh weather and extreme climates of base camp of Mt. Everest.
Meteorologist Tomer supported Kedrowski projects in sleeping on the summit by providing real-time weather forecasting analysis. Tomer appears on both KDVR Fox 31 and KWGN CW-2 He forecasts weather on KWGN’s “Daybreak” from 5am to 9am M-F. Chris also makes appearances on KDVR’s “Everyday” show from 10am-11am M-F.
While Kedrowski climbed and slept on all summits, Tomer climbed 18 peaks with his colleague. His work schedule of morning newscast did not allow him the luxury of climbing all the Fourteeners with his college buddy. During the book signing at the Wildlife Experience, Tomer shared Mount Capital was the hardest one for him personally.
“Capital Peak is not for beginners,” said Tomer, adding that it is one of his favorite climbs for its gorgeous mountain views.
It took the duo three attempts to climb this difficult yet alluring Fourteener. The first attempt was July 30, while the second attempt happened on August 19. The successful and third attempt occurred on September 10 to 11. Since the climb was completed on 9/11/11, the twosome dedicated the hike to the tragic event in New York. The book covers the highlights of all the climbs and provides difficulties of this particular peak.
Lightning storms, precarious cliff climbs and bear attacks
A close call with lighting is also highlighted in the book. Kedrowski describes the event with chilling clarity of taking a call from his mom by moving outside of the tent. “My mom saved my life that day. She called me at 9:15 p.m.,” said Kedrowski during his live presentation at the Wildlife Experience last December.
While the photographs within the book are amazing scenery of sunrises and sunsets, a favorite image is Kedrowski’s sleeping tent, hung on the ledge in a slant on top of Mount Eolous.
Kedrowski’s vehicle experienced a bear attack that included a smashed window, a mess of supplies and stolen energy food.
The book provides tips on climbing a Fourteener. Not to be taken lightly, tips include checking weather, knowing your physical limitations and respecting the mountain. In addition to tips, QSR codes are sprinkled through the coffee-type book to provide the readers a close-up look to some of the stories by Kedrowski and Tomer.
Kedrowski hopes his stories about climbing will inspire individuals to climb their personal Mt. Everest. “Mountains are the metaphors for life,” he said. “We all have our own Everest’s to climb, mine was just the real thing.”
During his presentation, Kedrowski captivated his audience with messages of goal setting, teamwork, pushing yourself to be better an doing what you love in love.
Just because Kedrowski climbed Mt. Everest doesn’t mean he stops here. Currently, he updates his blog to share his adventures. He also consults with Fox 31 and CW2 Denver. Other future endeavors include a radio show called Everest Radio, he plans to launch in January and will be the Color Commentator for NRC Radio’s Eagle Valley and Battle Mtn HS Boys baseball games this winter in Eagle County.
His book projects will continue in a sequel and an Everest thriller. His book tour will take him around the United States, to locations including San Francisco; Seattle; Chicago Ellensburg, Washington; Eugene, Oregon; Valparaiso, Indiana and Austin, Texas. His speaking schedule is listed on his website, showing dates through March 2013 throughout Colorado.
Mary Jeneverre Schultz’s bucket list will include climbing one Fourteener in 2013.
• To follow Dr. Jon Kedrowski’s adventures, visit his personal website at www.jonkeverest.org. You can also find information about Chris Tomer at www.christomer.com.
• 14ers.org – Colorado Fourteeners Initiative
• 8000ers.com – This website provides statistics on 8000-meter peaks.
• rmc.sierraclub.org – Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter is comprised of 9 local groups spread out across the great state of Colorado.
• cmc.org – Colorado Mountain Club is designed to unite adventure, education and preservation, representing the Colorado lifestyle of lovers of mountains.