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Vail man shares experiences from Mount Everest

Posted at 5:31 AM, Jun 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-03 13:03:46-04

A photo circulating social media shows what appears to be a traffic jam on Mount Everest.

One day after it was taken, Vail resident Chris Cobb made it to the summit. He says it was a surreal moment that's hard to put into words.

"You don't have much time," Cobb said. "I mean you got to go or you're going to freeze to death. I was probably up there maybe I don't know -- ten minutes?"

It has been a deadly climbing season on Mount Everest. Eleven people have died so far, which is more than twice the number of people who died last year.

READ MORE: Why are so many people dying on Mount Everest?

KGUN9 recently spoke to Cobb via Facetime because he's still traveling. At 29,000 feet up, he says it was negative 30 degrees. The lack of oxygen can be deadly.

"You know the weather was brutal this year. I mean it was brutal, brutal" Cobb said. "We got stuck in our tents. That was one of the biggest problems for the traffic jam the day before is the window of opportunity to summit was so small, that everybody had to cram in and try to get there at once."

The climb itself took months and Cobb spent years training. Some days that meant running with an 80 pound pack.

"I was in the gym about easily three hours a day for a year," Cobb said. "In the mornings I would go to Cienega. I live out in Vail, so I would go to Cienega. I would run the bleachers with a heavy pack in the mornings."

Before Cobb was ready for Everest he went up Mount Rainier in Washington twice and summited Denali in Alaska. At around 20,000 feet, it's the highest peak in North America.

Cobb went to Everest with the touring company International Mountain Guides. He says they made sure he was prepared. Recent reports though suggest lately not everyone has the right experience, which is something Cobb witnessed firsthand.

"I mean this is a dangerous, dangerous mountain and it's obviously the biggest mountain in the world," Cobb said. "And you have no clue what you're doing -- you're putting yourself at risk, everybody else at risk that flew out there and trained you know?"

"That's an issue," Cobb went on to say. "And it's an issue with all the mountains cause it's big business."

It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to summit. Mt. Everest was in Cobb's five year plan, but the dangerous challenge had a greater purpose.

The 35-year-old is an Air Force veteran and comes from a big military family, so he's using the climb to raise awareness and donations for the Fisher House Foundation.

The group builds homes at military and VA facilities so families have somewhere to stay while their loved ones are in the hospital.

"I've been to the Fisher House and I see directly what they provide," Cobb said. "The services they provide for our vets and their families and I just think it's an instrumental program."

When Cobb climbed Denali he says he raised close to $30,000 for the organization.

Here's how you can donate.