Vail’s Jon Kedrowski keeps climbing
VAIL — Jon Kedrowski recently went for a trail run up Bald Mountain, wearing shorts and a tank top, carrying a water bottle in his hand. He described the ascent as “so easy and light and fun.” The Vail-based mountaineer knows how to rate climbs, as he has certainly been through his fare share of hard and heavy and cold.
On top of many years of mountain accolades, Kedrowski made his way up all of Colorado’s 14ers this past winter, and then he skied his way down them.
“I’m really glad that there’s a lot of good weather now, in terms of warmth,” he said of summer in his hometown mountain valley. “When you’re schlepping up peaks here in the winter and it’s cold out, and when you’re climbing and carrying a pack with a lot of extra gear, and of course having to haul your skis up and things like that, you’re always somewhat weight training when you’re going up.”
Since 2012, Kedrowski has spent three of the past four years on 8,000-meter peak expeditions. He was in Nepal last year at Everest Basecamp during the devastating earthquake.
This past year, he decided to take on a summit project that was closer to home trying to tackle a record-breaking achievement. After conferring with friend and mountaineering colleague, Chris Davenport, Kedrowski decided to try to do what Davenport had impressively completed 10 years ago — to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers, but Kedrowski set out to do it in one single season.
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He almost got there, but on his final descent in June, he had to skip — not ski, but walk down, in ski boots — about 500 feet of vertical on Capitol Peak. The conditions were just too bare. This technicality created criticism around his record-breaking feat. So while he didn’t quite get to cross that goal off the list, many accomplishments were still achieved.
Counting the peaks he had climbed and skied at the end of June 2015, Kedrowski was able to bag and shred all of Colorado’s 14ers in a calendar year.
“Doing them all in the same seasons, that didn’t quite come through,” he said. “But to be able to climb them all to the top in the same season, and to ski as much as I did, and get lucky and get them all within a year’s calendar time, was a kinda neat, fortunate thing.”
The goals continue to roll. Kedrowski has recently been promoting his most recent book, “Skiing and Sleeping on the Summits: Cascade Volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest,” continuing to showcase his adventures and guide others in the process.
He is also now working on a book that explores backcountry ski mountaineering in Colorado, set to be out for the holiday season. It will include major mountain ascents, such as 14ers, as well as lower peaks and more widely accessible outings such as Vail Pass and Loveland Pass.
Kedrowski said the goal of the book is to share resourceful material, and to continue to give back to the mountaineering world.
“A lot of people are going out there and accessing these places, but it’s about stewardship of ski mountaineering and the camaraderie you can have, not only with your friends, but with an entire community,” he said.
For Kedrowski, the mountains provide teachings to him and what he shares in a number of inspiring ways.
“When I do my talks, I always weave in things like the basics of goal setting,” he said. “Everybody has goals — personal, professional and family-oriented, and mountains are a great way to explain my goals, but then I relate it to the real world — people who fight their own everyday battles, you know. We can overcome anything.”
Kedrowski has spent the past few weeks leading a high school basketball camp in the valley and enjoying home while he’s here, getting ready for his next big adventure.
“It’s been amazing the last several weeks since I got done skiing — just hiking with a simple day pack is so fun and easy,” he said. “That’s my biggest transition in the summer, but I look back on some of the days and how great the skiing was too, and it was just a blast.”