Local Everest climber ‘safe’ amid devastation | VailDaily.com

Local Everest climber ‘safe’ amid devastation

Vail Valley native Jon Kedrowski is safe in Mount Everest base camp, after a massive earthquake rocked Nepal. The death toll is estimated to be 1,400 so far.
Chris Tomer|Special to the Daily |

KATHMANDU, Nepal — While the death toll of Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal climbed above 1,865 across the Himalayan region, the Vail Valley breathed a collective sigh of relief that a local mountaineer and adventurer is not among the dead.

Jon Kedrowski was at a Mount Everest base camp when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on Saturday, kicking off a killer avalanche. He says he’s “safe.”

“On descent, headed back to lower camp or base camp. I’m safe,” Jon Kedrowski said on Twitter.

Jon Kedrowski has now been part of two of Mount Everest’s deadliest days. He was near the summit in 2012 when a storm blew in and killed seven people.

Bob Kedrowski, Jon’s dad, doesn’t know much more than anyone else. But his son is safe and that’s enough for now.

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“He’s just fine. That’s about all I can tell you,” Bob Kedrowski said. “We’ll wait and see the next few days.”

Bob Kedrowski is also clear that Jon Kedrowski has been on Everest during two of its worst days.

“That’s what he wants to do, and you have to support him in that,” he said.

One of three Coloradans

Jon Kedrowski is one of three Colorado climbers caught in Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which hit around noon Kathmandu time. He, Alan Arnette and Jim Davidson, both of Fort Collins, were hiking Mount Everest with the quake hit.

They’re all safe, they said.

Jon Kedrowski’s girlfriend, Tara Nichols, told Denver’s 9News he said it sounded like a “sonic boom.”

“He could feel it,” Nichols said. “It was like a sonic boom. He felt the tremors.”

Arnette, a Fort Collins climber, left an audio blog outlining what he knew at the time, which can be listened to at http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2015/04/25/alan-arnette-audio-dispatch-from-lhotse-for-alzheimers/.

Davidson has also said on social media that he’s safe.

“We’re safe at camp 1. Apparent earthquake. We had avi nearby, powder blast and glacier moved. Injuries in base camp. Staying put,” Davidson said on Twitter.

FOX31 Denver’s Meteorologist Chris Tomer has been close friends with Jon Kedrowski, Arnette and Davidson, and climbed with Jon Kedrowski for 15 years. They played college basketball together at Valparaiso University in Indiana, and collaborated on two books.

Tomer said on the Fox31 website that he talked with Jon Kedrowski on a satellite phone right after the earthquake shook Everest.

“I could tell immediately in Jon’s voice that something was wrong,” Tomer said. “I’ve heard it before. “Jon said the mountain shook, the entire glacier shook and cracked. People ran from their tents. A sonic blast swept across base camp as a giant piece of ice and rock sheared off Pumori landing right in the Khumbu Icefall.”

At least 10 dead on Everest

A mountaineering guide, Ang Tshering, told the Associated Press that an avalanche swept the face of Mount Everest after the earthquake. Nepal government officials said at least 10 climbers were killed and 30 injured.

This is Jon Kedrowski’s second Everest ascent. This time trying to climb it without oxygen. It’s also his second Everest tragedy.

Jon Kedrowski was caught in that 2012 storm that killed seven people near the summit, to that point Everest’s second deadliest day. Jon Kedrowski saved at least four other climbers that day.

Jon Kedrowski summited Everest later that week after a speed ascent.

A Mount Everest avalanche last April killed 16 Nepali sherpa guides. The 1996 tragedy that inspired Jon Krakauer’s book, “Into Thin Air” was Everest’s deadliest day prior to that.

The Nepal quake also shook a wide swath of northern India and Tibet, triggering avalanches in the Himalayas.

The quake hit 50 miles from Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. Nepalese police said at least 1,805 people are confirmed dead in Nepal alone, and that number is expected to climb.

A 6.6 magnitude aftershock hit about an hour later, and smaller aftershocks rippled through the region for hours.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Twitter at @torqueandrecoil.com

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