Eagle County native sleeps atop Colorado’s fourteeners
Ryan Summerlin October 3, 2011
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Jon Kedrowski climbed and camped atop 58 Colorado fourteeners this summer.
Some people ask silly questions like, “Why?”
Kedrowski is a “why not?!?” kind of guy.
He started in the San Juans and worked his way toward home in Eagle County. He finished last Thursday.
“Throughout this project, I have learned how to adjust a plan for anything that might be thrown in my way,” Kedrowski said.
This summer it included lightning strikes, bear attacks and any number of other adventures.
Kedrowski is a valley native and played basketball with Eagle Valley High School.
He used to climb fourteeners as a way to train for basketball, both at Eagle Valley High School and later at Valparaiso University.
In 2005 he climbed them all in 42 days. As he was standing up there admiring it all, he wondered what it would be like to camp up there.
“On the top, some of them are flat enough you could probably fit a tent in there,” Kedrowski said.
There was only one way to find out.
“I thought I could do them all in one summer,” he said.
So he chose this summer.
He started after the No Off Days basketball camp he runs with Bob Pietrack, another Eagle Valley graduate and former Devils teammate.
Before basketball camp, he climbed Mount McKinley and camped up there.
Chris Tomer was his climbing partner on 20 of them. They played basketball together at Valparaiso, and these days, Tomer is a meteorologist with Fox 31 and Channel 2. He’d call Tomer and together they’d figure out what time the afternoon storms to clear, so Kedrowski could leave the safety of the treeline and head to the summit.
“I could usually get him on the phone and get the information I needed,” Kedrowski said.
He’d set up camp, watch the sunset, sleep, watch the sunrise and head down. Then he’d head up another.
The man is fit.
“About 40 peaks into it I thought, ‘Hey I might get all of them'” Kedrowski said. “I had lots of support.”
Sierra Designs provided him with gear, even after one of their tents was struck by lightning.
But it wasn’t all scenery and serenity.
A bear attacked his truck; it dove right in through the passenger’s side window of his Chevy Tahoe.
One of his tents was struck by lightning. The poles got fried and everything else was vaporized.
“I could tell it was going to hit, so I jumped off the summit block to the side. I could feel the heat on my back when it struck,” Kedrowski.
Every day was a new adventure, or two.
That first week or two in September the weather turned ugly while he was climbing in the Sangre de Christos and the Crestones.
“Those are tough to climb anyway, then you add bad weather and it can be a real challenge,” Kedrowski said.
Colorado has 53 fourteeners that meet Colorado Summit Criterion – defined as a peak that has at least 300 feet of “prominence,” or rise above the highest saddle connecting the summit to higher ground.
There are five additional peaks that rise above 14,000 feet but don’t meet that criterion.
The idea of sleeping in a bed took some getting used to, but he managed it. One night. Then he jumped in his car and drove back to Central Washington University, where he teaches geography.
He and Tomer are putting together a photo book full of tales and topography. It should be out next summer, Kedrowski will follow that with a book of his own.
“So many things happened. It’ll make a great book,” Kedrowski said.
Of course there’s a Facebook page, “Sleeping on Top of All Colorado Fourteeners.”
About the time he’s done with all that, it’ll be time to ascend again. He’s scheduled to be part of a Mount Everest expedition.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.