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[Pacific Lutheran Scene]

Leadership and Service

Teacher takes on Mt. Everest-over and over again

By Noreen Hobson, '99


Jason Edwards on Mt. Everest

Jason Edwards '84, '89 has achieved two of his dreams. One was to teach-which he currently does at Puyallup's Stahl Junior High School. The other was to climb the summit of the 29,028 foot Mt. Everest-a dream he has achieved four times, spending 14 months of his life on the mountain.

Edwards began dreaming of Everest in junior high school, when he first came to learn about and admire Luther ("Lute") Jerstad '58, a member of the first American team to summit Everest. He read National Geographic and the book "Banner in the Sky," by James Ramsey Ullman. Edwards also admired Chris Chandler '70, who summited in 1976 and died of a cerebral and pulmonary edema in 1985, trying to climb Mt. Kanchenjunga. Edwards was inspired by the two display cases of Jerstad and Chandler in Mortvedt Library.

At 17, Edwards was guiding people up mountains around the world. After graduation, he began intense trips as a climber and a guide. After getting his second PLU degree, he stepped into the role of Everest climber. Between his 1991 and 1994 summits, he was a substitute teacher. Edwards turned his attention to teaching full-time in 1994. He ultimately felt that he needed to put equal time and effort into both climbing and teaching.
"It turns from avocation to a vocation, at least for me, " Edwards said "I need things to look forward to, and I need things to share with my students." He journals his experiences and regularly reports back to his students at Stahl through the Stahl Web site. One of his ninth graders recently told him, "I want to climb Mt. Everest."

Whether it is taking other climbers up Everest through his company, Mountain Experience or sharing knowledge and adventure with his students, Edwards tries to inspire others.
"Dreams can be attained," Edwards said. "By turning dreams into goals, and then 'plugging away at them' over time, someday they will likely come true like they have for me."
He believes that PLU creates people who go out into the world to capture those dreams-inspired by professors, the campus or even library displays. Edwards, whose next adventure is an expedition in Antarctica this winter, believes the dreams that PLU alums have achieved "really speak to the spirit of the university." With three alumni who have reached Everest's summit, it can be called a remarkable spirit. Edwards plans to donate a third display to the collection, inspiring the next generation of Lutes.



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