Duo’s specialties useful in quest
Mountain travelers often adhere to the adage “up early, off early” when planning high-peak adventures.
The goal is starting your climb early enough to be off the peak and headed to lower elevations before the usual summer afternoon thunderstorms hit the peaks.
However, during the summer of 2011, Jon Kedrowski and climbing partner and meteorologist Chris Tomer twisted that adage a bit to read “up early, stick around for the sunrise.”
For 55 nights that summer, Kedrowski, sometimes with Tomer’s physical presence, spent a night sleeping on each of Colorado’s 54 peaks higher than 14,000 feet.
The adventure is detailed in their new book, “Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado Fourteener High Bivys.”
In the book’s introduction, Kedrowski said the idea to spend an night on each of the 54 14ers came about after the two men realized the synergy of their particular talents — Kedrowski the mountaineer, Tomers the weatherman — would be the key to achieving their goal.
“It would be a great test of teamwork in the mountains,” Kedrowski writes, “and Chris and I knew we could help each other accomplish this feat.”
Starting June 23, 2011, with La Plata Peak (14,336 feet) and ending 95 days later with Mount of the Holy Cross (14,005), Kedrowski (Tomer accompanied him on 10 of the overnighters) spent 55 nights above 14,000 feet.
With Tomer, a former meteorologist with KJCT-TV in Grand Junction and presently with KDVR in Denver, supplying updated weather and storm predictions for every ascent, whether solo or together the men traveled light and fast, carrying the minimum equipment necessary to accomplish their feat.
Still, there were nights when the high peaks nearly prevailed. Early in the quest, while preparing for his night on Sunlight Peak (14,059 feet) in the San Juan mountains, Kedrowski (this time without Tomer’s company) was chased by fast-approaching lightning into a cramped cavern immediately below the summit.
“Thinking I was going to be hit, I jumped into the cave,” Kedrowski writes. “If the lightning was going to get me, it would have to come in and get me!”
Other than a sleepless night, nothing untoward happened, and Kedrowski went on to finish his summer-long accomplishment.
Kedrowski, a Vail native and formerly a geography professor at Central Washington University, kept daily notes on each climb, using these as the basis of the book, which also offers useful information on mountain weather, geology and travel.
The eye-catching photography — no credits are given, so apparently Kedrowski gets the credit here — of Colorado’s highest mountains is worth the price of the book.
Kedrowski is scheduled to appear at 6 p.m. Saturday at Grand Valley Books, 350 Main St., in Grand Junction for a book-signing. For information on the event, call 424-5437.