‘He stood on top of this world’: Heartbreak after SA man dies on Mt Everest
The family of an Australian man who died while descending the world’s highest peak have revealed their heartbreak in the wake of his death.
Jason Kennison, 40, died on Friday while making his way down Mt Everest, which he was climbing to raise money for charity.
The body of Mr Kennison, who is from South Australia but had been living in Perth, is yet to be recovered.
He had been in Nepal for the previous six weeks preparing for the climb, which was part of a charity trip to raise money for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia.
Remembering him as a beloved brother, son, cousin and friend, Mr Kennison’s family wrote on social media that he had “achieved his goal of reaching the peak”.
“He stood on top of this world but sadly didn’t come home,” his family said.
“He was the most courageous, adventurous human we knew and he will be forever missed.”
Mr Kennison’s family also revealed how he was “one to live a full life”.
“He would put his mind to something, set a goal and achieve it. Whether that be playing footy as a kid, winning motorcross races, working around the world in the mining industry and in high-risk environments,” they said in a seperate statement.
“He did all the training he could in preparation to achieving his new goal: climbing to the top of Everest. He trained anywhere he could, including the mountains of New Zealand.”
“We are so proud of his achievements and we take great solace in knowing he made it to the summit. The highest place on this earth.”
The family also took time to thank those who tried to rescue him.
“We would like to send our greatest love and thanks to Nepal where he had Sherpas go above and beyond to help try to bring him home,” they said.
“We are worlds apart but united through our love for Jason.”
Mahmud Khalili, a close friend of Mr Kennison, shared the pair’s last conversation to social media, speaking of the “tough year of prep” undertaken in the lead-up to the climb.
“A friend of mine, Jason Kennison, reached the top of Mt Everest but died of medical complications,” Mr Khalili said.
“He was a very good guy with a kind heart.
“I had a quick chat with him a few weeks ago before he was gonna summit.
“I’m happy he made it to the top! He died doing something he was passionate about.
“Jason, we’ll see you again one day my friend.”
Asian Trekking chief Dawa Steven Sherpa, who had been managing Mr Kennison’s climb, confirmed that the Australian died after being reaching the peak and being brought to an area of Everest known as The Balcony.
“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,” he told AFP.
“It was high wind and bad weather that prevented them (from) going back to bring him down. He died at The Balcony area.”
Mr Kennison suffered his own spinal cord injury in a car crash when he was 23 and was told he may never walk again.
In a blog post on Just Giving, Mr Kennison said he wanted to “help people living with spinal cord injury to live their best life”.
“As a relatively fit and healthy lad at 23 at the time of my accident, with a great career and my life ahead of me, I found it hard to come to terms with things and fell into depression,” he wrote.
Three years ago he also had an extended stay in hospital after a routine spinal procedure resulted in complications, including spinal nerve damage.
“One leg was barely strong enough to stand, while the other leg was left with no strength, feeling paralysed,” he wrote..
“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.”
Mr Kennison was raising money for Spinal Cord Injuries Australia while hiking up Mt Everest.
The organisation said it shared “heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Jason” after his passing.
“We were beyond shocked to hear the news of his passing whilst undertaking such an incredibly inspiring feat. He was a shining example of overcoming the odds and Jason showcased incredible tenacity and determination in everything he set his mind to,” a spokesperson said.
“Jason was an amazing man and we are so honoured that he chose to support our organisation. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.”
Jock Kennison said he was informed of his son’s death from local authorities early Sunday morning.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian who has died in Nepal,” a DFAT spokesperson said.
“We offer our deepest condolences to their family and friends.”
Mt Everest is in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range of the Himalayas, sitting on the border between Nepal and China.