Minnesota climbers react to Mount Everest avalanche that killed 13


Sheets of snow and ice crashed down Mount Everest Friday morning, claiming the lives of at least 13 people who were carrying gear up the mountain for other climbers.

It was the deadliest day ever on the mountain.

As of early Sunday morning, three Sherpa guides were still missing, according to CBC News. Rescuers are expected to continue their search Sunday.

A Minnesota man was on the mountain Friday. Andy Awes and his crew were shooting video for his film company, Committee Films based in Eden Prairie, his wife, Maria Awes, told WCCO.

They were about 12,500 feet up when the avalanche hit, but got off the mountain safely, she said.

“It���s a really tight knit culture and community there, and so, I think everybody feels the impact of that,” Maria Awes told WCCO of the avalanche.

Hugo Searle, who works for High Adventure Expeditions and lives in St. Louis Park, is no stranger to the dangers of Mount Everest. He brought a group up Everest and survived an avalanche not too long ago.

"By the time that avalanche hit me, the huge chunks of ice had been rolling for about a mile, and they were stopped, so that's what saved me," Searle told KSTP. "In this avalanche (on Friday), the huge chunks of the ice, the big part of the avalanche hit them square on and not only hit them, but it then hit these towering blocks of ice that are unstable, and it knocked those down on them."

Rod Johnson, owner of Midwest Mountaineering, was on Mount Everest in 1977 and hid behind big boulders to survive an avalanche, according to WCCO.

“We watched a huge avalanche come off the low love, it’s the shoulder of Mount Everest, and it would look beautiful coming down, rushing down, the billowing clouds of white. And then we started thinking that’s going to come and sweep right over us,” Johnson told WCCO.

He never made it to the top.

The Daily Beast made a list of some Mount Everest statistics. Here are some highlights:

– Height of the peak: 29,029 feet.
– Height at Mount Everest's "death zone" (the low-oxygen area above the last camp and before the summit): 26,000 feet.
– Cost of a climbing permit (per person): $25,000.
– First recorded climber to reach the summit: Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
– Over 300 climbers attempt Everest every year, National Geographic says.
– Deadliest year on the mountain: 1996 when 16 people died, CNN says.

Friday's deadly avalanche occurred at the start of the climbing season. Climbers typically arrive in April to acclimate to the altitude before heading up the mountain. The best window to reach the peak is between May 15-30, KSTP says.

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