Spotlight on Kris Jones


This same time last year, Kris Jones was busy with work and home life and his pass-time, riding and working on motorcycles.  He was busy, but not working out or particularly fit.  And he sure wasn’t planning on taking off to hike up some 14,000 foot mountain.

Enter Nick, Kris’s older brother.  Nick’s goal was to scale Mount Rainier.  At 14,410 feet, it’s the highest peak in the lower 48 and the most glaciated, serving up some of the most fickle weather in any season.  Many climbers are turned back, even in the middle of July, due to potentially deadly atmospheric conditions.  That’s what happened to Nick; thus, his first attempt did not result in scaling the summit.

Undeterred, he roped his little brother Kris into trying it with him the next time.  So in October, 2012, Kris started putting time into getting in shape.  By December, he wanted to really get serious about his training and joined Avera McKennan Fitness Center.  He was happy to find 30 degree angle treadmills here and he needed the Stairmaster for training too. He especially appreciated Jill’s help on the Fitness Floor to adapt his regimen – patterned after Mount McKinley climb training -here at the Center. He loaded up a backpack to wear during his stair climbs in order to work his way up to climbing with a 55lb pack.

By the time this July rolled around, Kris was ready for the challenge.  Along with his brother, 6 other climbers and 4 guides from International Mountain Guides, he embarked on the 3 ½ day climb to the summit and back.  The climbers were from various parts of the country, but ironically, he met John Snyders, of 605 Magazine who is also from Sioux Falls and a member at AMFC.  Everyone in their group made it to the top, although that doesn’t always happen.  One of their 4 guides, who by now has summited Mt. Rainier dozens of times, first made 5 attempts before finally reaching the summit.”It’s a real eye opener”, says Kris, there’s no way to describe the feeling when you get to the top, and it just changes your perspective on everything.

In one year, Kris has transformed himself from a non-exerciser to an in-shape, high-endurance, bicycling-everywhere, mountain-climbing enthusiast.  Marne Schelling, AMFC Personal Trainer, recommended Kris for the member spotlight because she so admires his determination, discipline and dramatic change over just 6 or 7 months time as a member.

In another couple of months, Kris will rev up his workout regimen again in preparation for next year’s climb with brother Nick up an old volcano in Mexico or Ecuador.  He encourages anyone who’s willing to put the time into training to go for the mountain of their choice; “It’s so worth it!”