ARVIN, Calif. - For 31-year-old Arvin native John Stenderup, a passion for hiking started with his dad ten years ago.
"My dad was going through a tough time and it was our opportunity to bond," he explained.
But what began as local hikes quickly turned into "climbing, ice climbing, rock climbing mountaineering, anything out doors...being in the mountains is where I want to be," explained Stenderup.
So after conquering Mt. Whitney, Mt. Rainier, the Andes and more, Stenderup set his sights on Everest.
Sitting over 29,000 feet above sea level, Mt. Everest's peak is the highest on earth.
A dangerous and daunting journey in the Himalayan mountains.
"People hear 'Everest,' and they're saying goodbye to you like they're never going to see you ever again," observed Stenderup.
On March 30th with a group of 15 including his best friend Geoff, they were off to Nepal to head to Everest base camp.
Stenderup's father Kent, made the trip to base camp as well to see his son off.
And then came weeks of hiking through a "maze of giant ice hazards."
Crossing ladders dangling over hundred foot drops, sleeping in tents, needing oxygen masks as their bodies adjusted to the altitude.
"Throughout the course of the night we would hear four or five avalanches which sounded like a train wreck," said Stenderup.
But nothing could prepare him for the final summit.
"We started climbing up and about two hours in we came across a man. He was suffering from hypothermia, and we spent about 30 minutes trying to help him and realized he was too far gone. We came about 50 yards later there was another gentleman who was also suffering from hypothermia...fluid in the lungs, and we actually participated in a rescue of him," said Stenderup.
A sobering reality of the challenges of Everest. But the end was in sight.
"After 40 days of climbing we spent 5 minutes at the summit," recalled Stenderup.
Worth it he says, without a doubt.
"I stood at a point where only 4400 people in the entire world in the past 65 years have stood," he reflected.
A testament to a favorite motto he lives by.
"It's a quote by Helen Keller, life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all," said Stenderup.
If you want to read more of Stenderup's incredible journey, you can check out his blog at johnstenderup.com.