Kedrowski survives Everest avalanche |

Kedrowski survives Everest avalanche

Vail Valley native Jon Kedrowski was in Mount Everest Base Camp when earthquakes triggered an avalanche that killed 19 and injured nearly 100. He'll tell about it Thursday as part of the Vail Symposium's Unlimited Adventure Series.
Jon Kedrowski|Special to the Daily |

If You Go

What: Nightmare in Nepal: Jon Kedrowski’s firsthand account of the quake that shook a nation.

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Vail’s Donovan Pavilion

Tickets: Free

Information: This is a special edition of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series. This program is not a fundraiser, but local organizations such as The Sherpa Foundation to explain how to help people in Nepal.

For information on The Sherpa Foundation, go to

For information on the Vail Symposium, go to

VAIL — Vail Valley native Jon Kedrowski has been on Mount Everest for two of its deadliest days, but somehow emerged without a scratch.

He was in Base Camp around noon on April 15, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hammered Nepal. An avalanche of glacial ice and compressed air blasted through, devastating everything in its path, killing 19 and injuring nearly 100. Among the dead are Vail filmmaker Tom Taplin.

Kedrowski was about 200 yards above the avalanche, and that far from death’s door.

Kedrowski made it off Everest alive, observing the annihilated camp, the eerie desertion of the trekking trails in Lukla and the destruction and heartbreak in the metropolis of Kathmandu.

The Everest Base Camp tragedy is a small pocket of Nepal’s devastation. More than 8,000 people lost their lives in Nepal following the quake and its aftershocks.

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Kedrowski will recount that and other adventures Thursday during a special presentation of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure Series.


Kedrowski earned his Ph.D. in geography and when the earthquake started shaking the world’s tallest mountain, he flew out of his tent. He’s a curious guy, and he figured if he lived through this he’d never see anything like it again.

“Because of the geographer/scientist in me, I was fascinated by the earthquake,” Kedrowski said. “To stand on that glacier and see it all was crazy.”

He summited Everest in 2012 and this year was headed up Lhotse, a neighboring peak, to ski down.

The 19 deaths make April 15 Everest’s deadliest day. Last April, 16 Sherpa guides died in an ice fall.

Kedrowski was near the summit in 2012 when a killer storm surprised everyone, and left seven people dead. Three days later, when the weather cleared, he pushed to the summit, essentially climbing Everest twice in one week.

“A mountaineering tragedy, especially under those conditions, is something that you always understand could happen,” Kedrowski said.

Base Camp, though, is supposed to be a safe refuge.

“You think your safe. The base camp has never been impacted. To be hit like this in a place like considered safe is unsettling,” he said.

Still …

“I go on these expeditions because they’re exciting,” Kedrowski said.

He has camped atop all of Colorado 14ers, and skied down the tallest volcanoes in the U.S.

This year’s Everest climbing season is closed. Kedrowski says he’s happy to be alive and uninjured, but a little disappointed that he won’t be skiing Lhotse.

He may try Everest again. Or maybe not.

“I’d never say never, but maybe I’ll focus on some other mountains for a while,” he said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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