A friend of an Australian man who died after reaching the top of Mount Everest has shared the heartbreaking last text messages he received from the climber before he set off for the summit.
Jason Kennison, who had been living in Perth, became “unresponsive” at the summit, Asian Trekking chief Dawa Steven Sherpa told AFP, so the 40-year-old was brought down to the Balcony area below the peak.
“Since the oxygen cylinders that they had with them were running out, they decided to descend to Camp 4 hoping to climb back again with oxygen cylinders to rescue him,” Sherpa said. “It was high wind and bad weather that prevented them (from) going back to bring him down. He died at the Balcony area.” His body remains there. The ABC reports that his father has been notified of his death.
Climber’s last text to friend
On Sunday night, Mr Kennison’s friend Mahmud Khalili shared on Facebook that he had been cheering the Aussie on as he took on the most difficult climb in the world to raise money and awareness for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.
“A friend of mine reached the top of Mount Everest but died of medical complications,” he captioned an image of their last text exchange. “He was a very good guy with a kind heart”. Mr Khalili said he had a quick chat with his mate by text a few weeks ago before he set off for the summit.
In the image, Mr Khalili tells Mr Kennison “you can do it!” and exclaims “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!”.
“Thanks mate,” Mr Kennison responds. “It’s been a rough and tough year of prep, let alone few weeks here with the rotations, so now comes the final run when and if the weather allows like you say.”
Mr Khalili encourages his friend that “all that hard work is going to pay off” and he was eagerly anticipating a video or photo of the 40-year-old at the top. “Within the next four weeks hopefully mate,” Mr Kennison wrote back on May 4.
Aussie learns to walk again after crash
Just two months ago, Mr Kennison spoke about his impressive goal with Today, revealing he had been told he would likely never walk again after a serious car crash when he was just 23.
The 40-year-old said the multiple traumatic injuries and surgeries had left him in a negative head space until a friend gifted him a surfboard. He then set himself the goal of undergoing rehabilitation and training to not only walk again, but climb Mount Everest for charity.
On May 10, Spinal Cord Injuries Australia (SCIA) posted a video on Facebook that appears to have been taken by Mr Kennison, and wished him the best of luck.
“Currently, we are now resting at base camp, keeping active until a safe weather window appears on the summit of Everest to start our final summit push,” they quoted him. “The plan is to utilise supplemental oxygen from camp 3, up through camp 4 to the 8848m high summit and back.
“I would like to thank all those who have donated so far, it means a lot that not only friends, but strangers have donated to SCIA. With one final push, I expect to be one of the toughest challenges in my life to date, I encourage people to help out and donate to SCIA, no matter how big or small.”
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