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Colorado Mountaineers Pressing On Despite Everest Tragedy

By Dillon Thomas

DENVER (CBS) - A Colorado resident summited Mount Everest Sunday, the same day three other climbers lost their life on the mountain.

Mount Everest
(credit: CBS)

A doctor from Alabama, Roland Yearwood, was one of the three who died on the mountain Sunday.

Meanwhile, Fort Collins resident Jim Davidson summited, an accomplishment he shared with followers on Twitter.

Three other Coloradans, including a teacher from Eaglecrest High School in Centennial, were still attempting to make it to the summit as of Sunday night. The summit of Everest is 29,029 feet above sea level.

"When you mountain climb, you have to be willing to accept that people will die," said Dr. Jon Kedrowski, a Colorado resident who has summited Everest before.

Kedrowski summited the tallest point on Earth in 2012. In May of 2015 Kedrowski returned, attempting to summit the mountain without oxygen.

"I was 800 feet from the summit, on May 19, (2015.) The winds were way too strong. So, we turned around," Kedrowski said.

Yearwood died in the "death zone" of Everest. Kedrowski said that portion of the climb was difficult to get through.

"[The death zone] is 26,000 feet high. It is the cruising altitude of a [Boeing] 747 jet," Kedrowski said.

Kedrowski said the lack of oxygen often overwhelms climbers.

"Because of the lack of oxygen, the body literally starts to consume itself," Kedrowski said. "There is critical decision making that takes place. That can play a role in whether you live, or die."

Kedrowski said every year around 10 people die on the mountain. He said attempting to summit Everest came with inherent risks. At the same time, he said the unfortunate deaths of others would likely never hold back those determined to stand atop the world.

"(Climbers) are still going to get back up there, and get out there, because it is what we love to do," Kedrowski said.

As of Sunday night, Mike Haugen, the Eaglecrest teacher, and his guide from Boulder, were waiting for weather to clear in the "death zone," before they completed their climb.

Coloradan Chris Bombardier was also on the mountain. If he summits, he would be the first hemophiliac to ever accomplish such a task.

Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.

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