Denver meteorologist’s rare ability to forecast Everest, other huge mountains is making mountaineering safer |

Denver meteorologist’s rare ability to forecast Everest, other huge mountains is making mountaineering safer

Dan England
The Colorado Sun
Chris Tomer at high camp of Huascaran Peak in 2017, one of the highest in Peru at more than 22,000 feet. Tomer is a meteorologist for Fox31 News and forecasts weather for mountaineers on some of the world's largest peaks.
Chris Tomer/Courtesy photo

Whenever one of Chris Tomer’s teams preparing for a final push up Mount Everest asks him for a forecast, he asks them a question first: What do you see?

Sniffing the air and looking up is how we forecasted weather in the 1800s. But Tomer’s a famous TV meteorologist (you can tell by the hair). In the Fox31 studio in Denver, Tomer uses computers to tell you it’s going to snow, even when it’s May.

But when a team of mountaineers are deciding whether to risk their lives and head to the summit of the world’s tallest mountain, Tomer first asks them to poke their heads outside their tents. The simple request shows how complex it can be to give a five-day forecast for mountain ranges across the world, including our own. Tomer needs as much information as he can get. It’s so tricky that Tomer names three others on the planet who can forecast the two factors, wind and snow, on massive mountain ranges that could block mountaineers from a lifetime achievement or even kill them. 

It’s not that Tomer is better than just about anyone, though many big-peak mountaineers say he is. It’s that hardly anyone will try it.

“We follow equations,” Tomer said, “but equations break down when you’re talking about the mountains. The art of it is, over time, you figure out what works best for certain mountains at what time of year, and that becomes your guide.”

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