Mountaineer Jon Kedrowski speaks at Vail Symposium event Thursday
If You Go ...
What: Vail Symposium Unlimited Adventure Series with adventurer and mountaineer Jon Kedrowski.
When: Thursday. 5:30 p.m. reception and 6 p.m. presentation.
Where: Donovan Pavilion, Vail.
Cost: $10 suggested donation.
More information: Kedrowski will present “The Highlife: Days and Nights on the Tallest Peaks in the World.” Register in advance at www.vailsymposium.org.
If you’re Dr. Jon Kedrowski, life is more interesting when it’s death defying.
Like the time he was almost blown off Mount Everest on that mountain’s second-deadliest day. Or the time he dodged a lightening strike on Mount Adams. Or the time he watched from a front row seat as a bear tore through his Chevy Tahoe.
Or the times he and Chris Tomer slept on the summits of all Colorado’s 14ers.
And the times he slept and skied 20 of the volcanoes in the Cascade range.
Those adventures and others make him more than qualified to stand in the spotlight at this evening’s Vail Symposium Unlimited Adventure Series.
Kedrowski earned his Ph.D. in geography and was a university professor, but adventures kept making themselves available.
Teaching was great, but adventuring is better — at least for now.
“People kept saying the same things to me that I’m now telling people: pursue your passion,” Kedrowski said.
Live locally, adventure globally
You remember Kedrowski. He was born and raised in the valley and graduated Eagle Valley High School, where his idea of preseason basketball training was running up 14ers. He and friend and former teammate Bob Pietrack run the NOD (No Off Days) basketball camp with Eagle Valley coach Jim Bair.
He was summiting Mount Everest with Jangbu Sherpa when a massive storm blew in and killed several people — one of the mountain’s deadliest days. It would have been worse but for the heroism of Kedrowski and others.
He had barely turned away from that first summit attempt when he decided to try it again, as soon as possible. The weather cleared two days later, and he and Jangbu Sherpa skipped the middle two camps and powered to the summit. The work was worth it. When they looked back, they saw an unbroken string of headlamps.
“We had the summit to ourselves for 15 minutes, just Jangbu and me,” he said.
Fast forward several months and Kedrowski is at the 12,276-foot summit of Mount Adams in Washington state, part of his quest to summit and ski down the 20 highest volcanoes in the Cascade range in 30 days.
The weather atop Mount Adams was sketchy, with thunderheads and lightening. His ice ax became hot. As lightening cracked on the ground around him, he pulled the skins from his skis, which were also hot from the static electricity, clicked in and rocketed down the mountain.
Kedrowski lived to tell another tale, and what a great tale it is.
His book “Sleeping and Skiing the Summits” will tell the tales of those Cascade volcanoes. It’s scheduled to be available later this year.
Some of the volcanoes you’ve heard of, such as Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood. He skied off Mount Rainier a couple weeks after six people were killed.
He started up 22 Cascade volcanoes, summited 20, slept atop seven and skied 102,000 vertical feet.
His upcoming book follows “Sleeping the Summits.” For that one he climbed and camped on Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains in 2011 and chronicles one of the other times he was almost struck by lightning.
“I could tell it was going to be hit, so I jumped off the summit block to the side. I could feel the heat on my back when it struck,” Kedrowski said.
This spring he’s headed back to Nepal to climb Mount Lhotse. At 27,940 feet, it’s the world’s fourth highest mountain and is right next to Everest.
He’s also taking trekking clients to an Everest base camp and lining up clients for a trip to Africa.
For Kedrowski, it’s all about passion and its pursuit.
“Figure out what starts your fire and pursue that with passion,” he said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.