Climbing High, Setting Goals, and Getting Involved with the AAC
Longtime AAC Member and multiple Research Grant awardee Jon Kedrowski spoke with us about alpine research in the American West, what climbing goals mean to him, and his most recent project—bivying on the summit of each of Colorado’s 14,000′ peaks over the span of 95 days.
Patience is truly a virtue and mountains really are metaphors for life. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and without taking a chance, you will never know what sort of opportunities and doors will open. The Colorado Fourteeners High Bivys Project I completed over a 95 day period in 2011 is just that type of story. I camped overnight on top of each of the 58 Colorado Fourteeners, and I experienced some incredible sunsets, some difficult weather and lightning, but also some amazing views. I decided to take a lot of risk, I set some lofty goals, and I was looking for a high reward.
In our own way we should all try to accomplish something great, therefore transcend into a place nobody else has ever ventured before. My accomplishment truly was a ‘first’, but realize that every time you try to take on a new challenge in your life, it is a ‘first’ for you, even if the feat has been done before. Whether it’s your first hike up Grays Peak, or a tough climb up the Diamond on Longs, it is still a first for you. We each know ourselves better than even our closest friends, spouses, or family members. Why? Because you own your own body, you own your very own thoughts, you own your own goals and your own dreams. While I became the first to camp directly on the summit of every Colorado Fourteener, I chose such a challenging project because I had set a personal goal. I spent the night on one peak, then two, then three. Suddenly in a week or two I was ten or fifteen peaks in. My long-term goal wasn’t going to happen overnight, but one peak at a time was my strategy. Each peak was considered a ‘short term’ goal.
Your goals can be personal, professional, or family oriented, among a few of the choices you have. Start small with short-term goals, and those will often build up into long-term achievements. In the spirit of the AAC, you are reading this probably because you have goals that are climbing oriented. Use those goals to your advantage and apply the same work ethic towards your non-climbing life goals, and you will likely become very successful in anything you choose to do.
As a mountaineer, sponsored athlete, professional geographer, and researcher, I earned some of my early career success in research grants with the American Alpine Club. In 2008 and 2009, I earned two separate AAC Research Grants and spent the summer climbing Mount Rainier and Mount McKinley while collecting survey data. The information I collected was useful to the management of the climbing permit systems for both iconic peaks. Just recently in 2011, I became the first person to receive a third AAC research grant, where I have been assessing trail and route impacts on state high-points throughout the west, starting with comparing New Mexico’s two highest peaks (Wheeler and Walter) with Colorado’s two highest peaks (Elbert and Massive).
But the AAC doesn’t only award research grants. There are grants for climbing, conservation, preservation, and unique expedition objectives. Nearly $100,000 will be awarded in 2012 for aspiring alpinists who are all about supporting the ‘climbing way of life’ through various climbing endeavors. Do you have goals and dreams in mind that involve climbing? Even a small AAC grant of $500 could mean the difference between you getting a chance to chase your short term goals and use those smaller goals to go after your larger goals.
Finally, tell other people about your goals, your achievements, and produce something to share with others. Don’t just take the money and run, never to be heard from again. In my situation I write research articles, books, and trip reports. With my Bivys Project, I will be releasing a book titled: “Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado Fourteener High Bivys” (Westcliffe Publishing, Boulder) due out in Summer 2012.
Good luck in all of your endeavors and remember, the possibilities are endless! Once you think you have reached your highest goal, a new opportunity may present itself and you should always embrace the challenge. When I finished my Bivys Project, I thought that was the end, but a new door opened. In 2012, I will be heading to climb Mount Everest, and a whole new set of challenges await. Always embrace new challenges and chase new goals whole-heartedly.
Best for a safe and Happy New Year and a big year of climbing in 2012,
—Jon Kedrowski, AAC Member
AAC Research Grant Recipient 2008, 2009, and 2011.
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