La Roche Literary Society Hosts First Event of the Academic Year
By Maxwell Robinette, Associate Editor
La Roche alumnus spoke at a recent Literary Society event about his experience climbing Mt. Everest.
Jeff Sradomski’s presentation, “From Pittsburgh to Mt. Everest: the Adventure of a Lifetime,” discussed the process of climbing the 29,029-foot summit, including personal anecdotes and global perspectives.
The speaker began by telling the audience he hadn’t always been an “outdoorsy type.” He spoke about his first climbing adventure in Yellowstone National Park and how the experience hooked him.
“I was tired, and a little disinterested while doing the climb. But when I made it to the top, it just clicked,” Sradomski said.
Sradomski talked about the friends he made and the confidence he gained as he continued climbing. He commented that mountain climbing’s inclusivity and achievability appealed to him.
“I looked at the people who were doing it, and they weren’t super athletes, like Lebron James. They were normal, like me.” Sradomski said.
In 2013, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro—his first “mountaineering” adventure. After that, he set his sights on Everest.
You don’t just show up to climb Everest, though. Prepared climbers train months before they embark on the expedition.
High altitudes put enormous stress on the body. On average, five people die climbing Everest each year. Sradomski climbed the mountain in 2019. That year, 876 people reached the peak. Eleven died trying.
The speaker explained how weather also presents significant danger. In 2019, climbers faced a unique dilemma. Cyclone winds shrunk the window to climb the summit from two weeks to two days. Attempting to climb outside this window would be deadly.
“You’re gambling with your life,” Sradomski said. “If you’re going to do it, do it the right way and do it safe.”
Sradomski also spoke about the reverence people express toward Everest.
Locals have long known the dangers of living on the mountain. Dances, prayer wheels, and prayer flags—emblems of Nepalese culture—often involve a spiritual plea for safe travel.
But to a true climber, the rewards far outweigh the risks.
Sradomaki exhibited pictures and videos taken during his months-long adventure.
He showed images of his plane landing at the base of the mountain; local cuisine; and climbers and pack mules hiking to base camp.
Sradomski took the audience up the mountain with him as he recounted his journey. Pictures revealed vegetation thinning as snow drifts thickened. Icy crags and howling crevices replaced familiar trails. And climbers progressively sported heavier outerwear.
After the long trek, attendees saw the La Roche graduate at the summit. In a climatic photo, prayer flags surround him while he smiles in a bright orange coat with a deep blue sky cast behind him.
“It was great. I was only up there for 20 minutes, though,” Sradomski said. “That was more than enough for me.”
Sradomski briefly talked about global perspectives of climbing Mt. Everest at the end of his talk. Nepal continues to change as the “Everest experience” becomes more available. Sradomski urged potential climbers to be conscientious of their impact.
The floor then opened to questions from audience members. One asked if he had any regrets while on the mountain. The climber’s response earned some laughter.
“Only every morning when I woke up,” he replied. He then added, “But you can really rely on your climbing team for support.”
Another asked about the speaker’s future plans. Sradomski replied that he would like to do the “Seven Summits Challenge,” which involves climbing each continent’s highest peak. For his next adventure, he plans on climbing “Carstensz Pyramid” in Indonesia—one of the peaks of the challenge.
The event concluded with much applause and many thanks and congratulations.
Sradomski’s presentation comes during three keynote speaker events hosted by the La Roche Literary Society and Sigma Tau Delta.
On February 25, 2022, Dr. Janine Bayer will speak about her new book, “Creating Genre: Biography in Poetry and Prose.”
On March 25, 2022, Father Peter Horton will speak about the “Stages of Faith.”