CWU geography professor nears Mount Everest Summit - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

CWU geography professor nears Mount Everest Summit

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ELLENSBURG, Wash. -- We continue to follow a former Central Washington University professor on his journey to conquer Mount Everest.

Jon Kedrowski, a geography professor began his climb up towards the summit Friday afternoon, according to his climbing friend and Denver meteorologist, Chris Tomer. The two men have been keeping in touch with one another via satellite phone calls and on Kedrowski's blog, since the expedition began a few months ago.

At least four people have died from a storm over the weekend. Around 150 climbers became trapped in that storm. Tomer says it was the same day Kedrowski had attempted to make his first go at reaching the summit, but was forced to turn around due to bad weather conditions.

Tomer says Kedrowski and his team helped rescue some of the climbers who were stranded in an area known as the "death zone", about 27,000 feet above sea level.

"It'll be exciting and it'll be sad. It'll be emotional. You know, you only get to spend 10 to 15 minutes up there, and I'm sure he'll make the most of it and never forget it. And you know, he'll say a prayer and he'll come back down," explained Tomer.

Kedrowski will spend the next few days making his way down to the main base camp. Tomer says the professor will then catch a flight back to Colorado. He's expected to return as early as next Wednesday.

Jon Kedrowski, who has a Ph. D. in environmental geography from Texas State University, was an assistant professor in the Geography Department at CWU for the last two years.

An avid climber, he became the first person to camp and spend the night on top of Colorado's 55 peaks in 2011.

He and his team over the weekend decided to not make a climb towards the summit due to a combination of bad weather and a high number of climbers. About 300 climbers tried to make it  through a short window, but many became trapped for 18 hours. Some died after their oxygen tanks they were carrying ran out.

On Thursday, CWU colleague and Geography Department chairman Jim Huckabay, said he had communicated with Kedrowski via his blog and through conversations with his climbing friend Chris Tomer, a weatherman in Denver.

"Jon says 'Well, I'm kind of getting over the trauma and getting some of this stuff I've seen over the last few days out of my soul,' and so let's see if we can get to the top," Huckabay said about what Kedrowski following the tragic incident over the weekend.

He says Kedrowski and his climbing team helped to assist several stranded climbers back to base camp, after a deadly storm near the summit Sunday.

"It all started up the trail, after the point where all of these people were piled up. They (Kedrowski and his team) just shifted gears and started to get people back to base camp, and trying to do what they needed to do there," Huckabay explained.

Huckabay say the professor is also doing research while on his expedition, to study issues of human waste and treatment at lower elevations on Mt. Everest.

It's taken about a month for Kedrowski to reach the final base camp where he'll make his final ascent to the approximately 29,030-foot peak, according to Huckabay. 

To read more about Jon Kedrowski's Everest adventure, click here, to view his blog.

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