A peak experience

Alamo teen talks about his experience climbing Mount Everest

For most people, climbing Mount Everest is the ultimate experience, but an Alamo teen is looking for new adventures after his own Everest experience this spring. Scott Jones is among the youngest climbers to summit the world's tallest mountain.

"It was a little under nine hours to get up there and by the time you get there you've got about a third of the oxygen that you have at sea level," said the 18-year-old, just back from his trip to Nepal.

Climbers often have fuzzy memories of that final leg of the trip. Despite weeks of acclimating, moving to base camps farther and farther up the mountain, the altitude still takes its toll.

"I do remember taking the mask off near the summit," Jones said. He said the moisture built up inside his mask instantly hardened on his face, leaving icicles hanging from his nose and froze his air intake.

Jones, who has climbed most of the major mountains of the world, said Everest "is in a completely different league."

"Difficulty-wise, it's much tougher," he said, noting that Everest is 50 percent taller than Mount McKinley, which doesn't require the use of oxygen.

Jones said the entire trip was a mix of fear and excitement.

"I think every time you made it to a new high point, that was exhilarating. It was pretty cool taking every step past that, knowing it was the highest I've ever been," he said. "I can't think of any part of the climb that wasn't scary."

Historically, about 10 percent of the people who tried the climb have died, and even today, the mountain claims about one in a hundred.

Especially frightening for Jones was the Khumbu Ice Fall, which he described as "big pillars of ice" which carry the threat of an avalanche.

"The whole time you're walking through there you're scared but you have to put it in the back of your mind," he said.

Jones was in regular contact with his parents, thanks to a satellite phone he and his father smuggled into Nepal.

Asked why he wanted to climb Everest, Jones didn't use the stock answer, "Because it's there," the reply supposedly given by one of the mountain's pioneers, George Mallory, who lost his life in his third attempt at reaching the peak.

"I think it's more of a personal challenge," Jones said. "As a kid I was scared of heights. It's pretty cool that I could do this."

Now that he's summited the tallest mountain in the world, and completed major climbs including Mount Shasta, Mount Whitney, Mount Rainier, Mount McKinley and Mount Kilimanjaro, it would be easy for Jones to rest on his laurels.

That's not the case for this teen, who graduated early from Monte Vista High School to make the climb and plans to attend the University of Colorado this fall. He's already making plans for next summer.

"Me and my friend were talking about trying to row across the Atlantic," he said. "There's still plenty of stuff for me to do."


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