Image: Facebook/Spinal Cord Injuries Australia
Jason Bernard Kennison, an Australian man who conquered Mount Everest despite having to relearn how to walk, passed away upon his descent from the summit.
Kennison's family said, “he achieved his goal of reaching the peak … he stood on top of this world but sadly didn’t come home.”
During an expedition organised by Asian Trekking, Jason Bernard Kennison, a 40-year-old mechanic, displayed unusual behavior starting from the south summit, according to Dawa Steven Sherpa, the managing director of Asian Trekking, as reported by the Himalayan Times.
Assisted by two Sherpa guides, Jason Bernard Kennison was brought down to the balcony area, situated at an altitude of 8,400 meters above sea level. However, Kennison declined to continue and remained at that location, prompting the Sherpa guides to descend to camp four, as stated by Sherpa.
“Since the oxygen cylinders that they had with them were running out, they decided to descend to camp four, hoping to climb back again with oxygen cylinders to rescue him,” The Guardian quoted Sherpa. According to the Himalayan Times, the Sherpa guides were unable to return immediately due to adverse weather conditions and strong winds.
Seventeen years prior to his climb, Kennison received a devastating prognosis after a car accident in 2006, which resulted in spinal cord injuries and a struggle with depression. He was informed that walking again might be impossible. However, he defied the odds and used his Mount Everest ascent as a platform to raise funds for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.
On his Just Giving page, Kennison shared his journey, revealing that his determination to climb Everest arose after undergoing another spinal procedure three years ago, which led to another phase of rehabilitation.
“Someone close to me convinced me that I was still capable of being able to do anything I wanted," he wrote.
He said the gift of a surfboard had given him the motivation “to see my life in a different light, to view what I was missing personally inside, and admire the obstacles that I had overcome”.
“In 2023 I will head to Nepal, to see and be on Mount Everest, a long way from once battling traumatic injuries and the low and dark days of depression. An ambitious feat that I would never have dreamed of, or thought was possible after once being told that I would not be able to walk."
“I am going to make the most of my life and part of that involves helping other people who have had their life changed in an instant through spinal cord injury. They shouldn’t be forgotten; they should be helped," he added.
His family said on social media: “He was the most courageous, adventurous human we knew and he will be forever missed.”
Before he left for Everest, Kennison told 7News: “I’ve always challenged myself internally overcoming these things. Everest has become this symbol to me of overcoming those challenges and getting that fulfilment.”
Before embarking on his ascent, Kennison took several preparatory measures. He travelled to New Zealand to attend mountaineering courses, engaged in abseiling and rock climbing practice, and even arranged training sessions in his own backyard for ladder crossing, jumaring, and roping.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that it was offering consular support to the family of the Australian individual who passed away in Nepal.
According to the Himalayan Times, this spring season has witnessed 10 fatalities on Mount Everest, with two climbers still reported missing above the high camps.