Colorado climber summits Everest amid mountain tragedy

Hendrik Sybrandy | FOX31 Denver

EDWARDS, Colo. — A Colorado man is back home after conquering Mount Everest. By all accounts, it was not an easy road.

Jon Kedrowski succeeded on his second attempt to summit the world’s highest mountain after fierce winds forced him to turn back the first time.

“When we got up to the upper ridges of the balcony the winds were blowing at almost 100 miles per hour and that was a pretty good indication that we should turn around,” Kedrowski said Saturday at his parents’ Edwards home. It was during his descent that he came face to face with the dark side of Everest.

“I came across four different people that were either pretty frozen and/or dying or close to death or not moving,” he said. One oxygen-deprived climber who was in severe distress reached out to him. He had no gloves on his hand.

“You know I tried to even grab him or pick him up but he was already kind of frozen in a sitting state,” Kedrowski said. “Then I realized the longer I stay here, I’m putting myself at risk, so I just kind of unclipped from the rope, went around him and kept going down after I realized that there was nothing I could do for him.”

Favorable weather allowed Kedrowski to finally reach the summit last weekend.

“At first I couldn’t really believe I was up there,” he said. “It felt like, wow, I made it? And then I thought about how proud my family would be just people that were pulling for me the whole trip.”

“I’m just proud of him and I’m glad that he accomplished what he wanted to do,” Kedrowski’s mother Barbara said. The climber, who lost 20 pounds during the expedition, is thinking about tackling several of Pakistan’s highest peaks next summer.