People always want to know who is the one person you would bring with you to a deserted island. If that island is a mountain, don’t bring your spouse or best friend: Bring Jon Kedrowski.

In the summer and fall of 2011, Kedrowski battled lightning storms, subzero temperatures, and even bears, to summit and spend the night on all of Colorado’s 55 fourteeners. In May 2012, he was 800 feet from summiting Mount Everest (29,029 feet) when he turned back to attempt to save fellow climbers who were trapped in a terrible wind storm. He was able to save two, but four perished in one of the deadliest days in the mountain’s history. He summited a few days later (see video below). And in July, he climbed Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II (26,362 feet), the 13th highest peak in the world.

Kedrowski, a Vail native, is no stranger to thin air, blowing snow, steep inclines, and grueling training. But, like many things in life, climbing the highest mountains in the world requires both mental and phsyical preparation. When not climbing, Kedrowski tours the country as a motivational speaker to encourage others to climb their own metaphorical Everest. His simple plan? A “No Off Days” approach that encourages people to have tangible goals, work on them every day, believe in yourself, block out naysayers, and count on people to help you through.

Learn more when Kedrowski speaks at the Everest Event for Active Minds in Denver in early December. Here is a sneak peak of what you may see:

—Image courtesy of Anne Banister; Video courtesy of Jon Kedrowski