Local Climbers Reflect on Mount Everest Avalanche

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thirteen people are now confirmed dead and three are still missing after an avalanche hit the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest.

The avalanche barreled down a narrow climbing pass where Sherpa guides were making their way up.

The guides were hauling gear to the higher camps for climbers to use in their attempt to reach the summit next month.

The beauty of the highest peak in the world attracts people for different reasons.

“They were shooting in the Himalayas for a documentary we that we’rea doing for the History Channel, and then also our television show that we film there called ‘America Unearthed’,” Maria Awes said.

Maria’s husband Aaron was on the mountain with six others from their company, Committee Films in Eden Praire, when the avalanche hit.

They were roughly 12,500 feet high according to Maria.

Maria said all she knows is they got off the mountain before the avalanche came crashing down and claimed the lives of 13 Sherpas.

“We were working with Sherpas. We were working with local people. You know you really get to know those people, and I think you feel how they are affected by these things” Awes said.

Maria said her husband and colleagues are out of harm’s way, their Sherpa guides are also safe.

“It’s a really tight knit culture and community there, and so, I think everybody feels the impact of that,” Maria said.

She said her thoughts are with the families who are hurting right now.

Rod  Johnson, owner of Midwest Mountaineering, is an experience climber.

“The Sherpas when they are carrying loads up and down spend four times as much time as climbers do on the mountain, so they are exposed four times as long and take much greater risk,” climber Rod Johnson said.

Johnson was in Mount Everest in 1977. He too was faced with a situation that made him re-evaluate his climb to the top of Mt. Everest.

“We watched a huge avalanche come off the low love, it’s the shoulder of Mt. 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 said.

He was able to hide behind big boulders and survived.

He never made it to the top.

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