Waiting at the top of the world | VailDaily.com

Waiting at the top of the world

EAGLE COUNTY – Jon Kedrowski isn’t on top of the world – yet – but he can see it from where he is. Kedrowski is poised to reach the peak of Mount Everest later this week, weather permitting.

The Eagle Valley High School graduate earned his Ph.D. in geography and is a college professor and basketball coach. In his spare time he climbs mountains – lots and lots of mountains. He’s been targeting Everest for a few years now, and caught on with Dan Mazur’s Summit Climb expedition.

Right now, team members are doing what’s euphemistically called “acclimatizing,” climbing up and down parts of Everest, getting their bodies used to the altitude and the problems it causes. Most of those problems will make a couple serious attempts to kill you. Those problems are often fatal. The proof is the number of frozen corpses on the world’s tallest mountain.

“I had spent six nights above 21,000 feet. The body acclimates well at that height, but after almost a week, descending restores valuable strength, red blood cells, and body mass,” Kedrowski said.

Going to lower altitude helps the body recover and produce red blood cells, which help bind to oxygen later on the summit attempt.

Is today the day?

Kedrowski and company are climbing from the Nepal side up through the Khumbu Icefall and up the Lhotse Face.

As they wait, they’re getting up-to-the-minute weather reports from Kedrowski’s climbing partner, Chris Tomer, a meteorologist with Denver’s Fox 31.

“A great summit window should open up starting (May 17),” Tomer said.

Tomer explained why in ways we’ll understand.

The jet stream (steering winds) will back away from the Everest summit and the winds on the summit will back off a little from their usual 50 – 100 mph, Tomer said.

“There is going to be snow falling during this window, but it comes down to picking your poison,” Tomer said.

While he’s up there, Kedrowski is conducting research on air and water quality up and down the mountain.

The real route

Even though climbers start down here and finish way up there, apparently there are lots of ways to get way up there.

“A group of climbers were breaking trail in powder and I couldn’t help but notice they were not on the correct route,” Kedrowski said. “The powder concealed crevasses and made the route dangerous.”

Kedrowski has a photographic memory, which is helpful when you’re trying to not die on a mountain.

“I decided that I knew exactly where the trail was, so I probed a path to the left of them and regained the correct trail in only a few moments,” Kedrowski said. “They seemed startled, but after one of their sherpas followed us, they all realized I knew exactly where I was going.”

He looked back and saw about 25 people following him down.

Sleeping on the summits

You’ll remember Kedrowski and Tomer from last summer’s adventures – they climbed and camped on all Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountains. They wrote a book about it that’s due out in June.

They were college basketball teammates at Valparaiso University in Indiana.

“Our ‘Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado Fourteener High Bivys’ project last summer was the absolute perfect training for Everest,” Tomer said. “Pinpoint weather forecasts, carrying heavy gear, moving as fast as possible, sticking to timetables, teamwork, taking risks, and repeating this on back-to-back-to-back 14ers.”

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.