13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

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Avalanche in Everest Kills 12
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13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche
Nepalese rescue team members rescue a survivor of an avalanche on Mount Everest on April 18, 2014. At least 12 Nepalese guides preparing routes up Mount Everest for commercial climbers were killed by an avalanche in the most deadly mountaineering accident ever on the world's highest peak, officials and rescuers say. The men were among a large party of Sherpas carrying tents, food and ropes who headed out in bright sunshine in an early morning expedition ahead of the main climbing season starting later this month. AFP PHOTO/Buddhabir RAI (Photo credit should read Buddhabir RAI/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this May 18, 2013 file photo released by mountain guide Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions, climbers make their way to the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas. An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, April 18, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. (AP Photo/Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger, File) MANDATORY CREDIT, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
FILE - In this May 22 2013 file photo, climbers descend Khumbu Icefall on their way back to Base Camo after summitting the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) Mount Everest. With its dreams of covering a daredevil's attempt to jump off Mount Everest over, the Discovery network is instead making a documentary on the avalanche, Friday, 18, 2014, that killed more than a dozen mountain guides. Discovery President Eileen O'Neill said Tuesday, April 22, the network hopes to air the film within the next few weeks. Discovery will encourage viewers to donate to a relief fund for families of the Sherpa guides killed in the disaster. Several of the Sherpas killed were helping prepare for American Joby Ogwyn's planned jump from the summit in a wingsuit. Discovery planned to show the stunt on live television May 11.(AP Photo/ Pasang Geljen Sherpa, FIle)
FILE - In this Saturday May 17, 2003 file photo, a view of the Kumbhu icefall, the first hurdle in the ascent to Everest from base camp, is seen from Everest Base camp, where 12 Nepalese guides were killed, Nepal. An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. (AP Photo/Gurinder Osan, file)
FILE - in this May 18, 2013 file photo released by mountain guide Adrian Ballinger of Alpenglow Expeditions, a climber pauses on the way to the summit of Mount Everest, in the Khumbu region of the Nepal Himalayas. An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, April 18, 2014, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. (AP Photo/Alpenglow Expeditions, Adrian Ballinger, File)
Mother of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, cries while she waits for his body at Sherpa Monastery in Katmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Rescuers were searching through piles of snow and ice on the slopes of Mount Everest on Saturday for four Sherpa guides who were buried by an avalanche that killed 12 other Nepalese guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. The Sherpa people are one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal's alpine region, and many make their living as climbing guides on Everest and other Himalayan peaks. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Father and sons of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, wait for his body to arrive at Sherpa Monastery in Katmandu, Nepal, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Rescuers were searching through piles of snow and ice on the slopes of Mount Everest on Saturday for four Sherpa guides who were buried by an avalanche that killed 12 other Nepalese guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. The Sherpa people are one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal's alpine region, and many make their living as climbing guides on Everest and other Himalayan peaks. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A Nepalese Sherpa Dawa Tashi, who was injured during an avalanche, gets treatment at a hospital in Katmandu, Nepal, Friday, April 18, 2014. An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
A group of tourists dig their way through heavy snow above 16,000 feet in the Himalayan mountains near Mount Everest Nov. 11, 1995. The early snowfall triggered avalanches and landslides that killed 61 people and trapped throusands of trekkers for days. (AP Photo/Stacy Standley)
Hospital staff get ready to receive the injured from an avalanche, on helipad of Grandy hospital, in Katmandu, Nepal, Friday, April 18, 2014. An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving three missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Relatives of Mount Everest avalanche victims wait for the mortal remains of their loved ones to arrive at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of a Mount Everest avalanche victim grieve as bodies arrive at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of Mount Everest avalanche victims give their last respects after the bodies arrived at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of Mount Everest avalanche victims give their last respects after the bodies arrived at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
The daughter (L) and son of Mount Everest avalanche victim Ang Kazi Sherpa comfort each other as they wait for his body to arrive at Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers searched Mount Everest for bodies as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from an avalanche that killed at least 12 Nepalese guides in the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese relatives and volunteers shift the body of a Mount Everest avalanche victim after arrival at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Relatives of a Mount Everest avalanche victim grieve as bodies arrive at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
A photograph of Mount Everest avalanche victim Ang Kazi Sherpa is pictured as his children look through photographs on his recovered mobile phone at the Sherpa Monastery in Kathmandu on April 19, 2014. Rescuers on Mount Everest April 19 found the body of a 13th Nepalese guide buried under snow as authorities ruled out hope of finding any more survivors from the deadliest accident ever on the world's highest peak. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) -- Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

Another three guides remained missing, and searchers were working quickly to find them in case weather conditions deteriorated, said Maddhu Sunan Burlakoti, head of the Nepalese government's mountaineering department. But the painstaking effort involved testing the strength of newly fallen snow and using extra clamps, ropes and aluminum ladders to navigate the treacherous Khumbu icefall, a maze of immense ice chunks and crevasses.

The avalanche slammed into the guides at about 6:30 a.m. Friday near the "popcorn field," a section of the Khumbu known for its bulging chunks of ice. The group of about 25 Sherpa guides were among the first people making their way up the mountain this climbing season. They were hauling gear to the higher camps that their foreign clients would use in attempting to reach the summit next month.

One of the survivors told his relatives that the path had been unstable just before the snow slide hit at an elevation near 5,800 meters (19,000 feet). The area is considered particularly dangerous due to its steep slope and deep crevasses that cut through the snow and ice covering the pass year round.

As soon as the avalanche occurred, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help, and all other climbing was suspended.

Seven of the 12 bodies pulled out and brought down Friday were handed over to their families in the Everest region, while the other five were taken to Katmandu, Nepal's capital.

Four survivors were conscious and being treated in the intensive care units of several Katmandu hospitals for broken ribs, fractured limbs, punctured lungs and skin abrasions, according to Dr. C.R. Pandey from Grande Hospital. Others were treated for less serious injuries at the Everest base camp.

Jon Reiter from Kenwood, California, said he was climbing with an Australian partner when his Sherpa guide pushed him behind ice blocks and out of harm's way when the avalanche struck.

"We were moving up to Camp 1 just after dawn when we heard that `crack,' " said Reiter, 49. "My first thought was to film it, and I reached for my camera. But the Sherpa yelled to get down. Things started happening in slow motion. Big blocks of snow and ice started coming down all around."

He talked to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ( http://bit.ly/1hcOA0R ) in an interview by satellite phone from base camp in Nepal, where he wrote a blog entry to let family and friends know he was OK.

It's not clear how close Reiter was to the avalanche when it killed the Sherpa guides. But in response to questions, Reiter wrote on his blog Saturday: "There were very few western climbers in the area and all of us had our climbing Sherpa by our sides and they all survived."

Hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews had been at Everest's base camp preparing to climb the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak when weather conditions are most favorable next month. As with each year, the Sherpa guides from each of the expedition teams had been working together to prepare the path by carving routes through the ice, fixing ropes on the slopes and setting up camps at higher altitudes.

One of the injured guides, Dawa Tashi, said the Sherpas were delayed on their way up the slope because the path was unsteady. With little warning, a wall of snow crashed down on the group and buried many of them, according to Tashi's sister-in-law, Dawa Yanju. Doctors said Tashi, who was partially buried in the avalanche, suffered several broken ribs.

The Sherpa people are one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal's alpine region, and many make their living as climbing guides on Everest and other Himalayan peaks.

More than 4,000 climbers have summited Everest since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds have died trying.

The worst recorded disaster on Everest had been a fierce blizzard on May 11, 1996, that caused the deaths of eight climbers, including famed mountaineer Rob Hall, and was later memorialized in a book, "Into Thin Air," by Jon Krakauer. Six Nepalese guides were killed in an avalanche in 1970.

Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at (5,300 meters) 17,380 feet, where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season, which ends in May.


Previous update:

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Rescuers were searching through piles of snow and ice on the slopes of Mount Everest on Saturday for four Sherpa guides who were buried by an avalanche that killed 12 other Nepalese guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.

Krishna Lamsal, a Nepal Tourism Ministry official at the base camp, said the bodies of the 12 guides were pulled out and brought down Friday. Weather was fine Saturday morning, but conditions could quickly deteriorate and hamper the search efforts, he said.

The avalanche swept down a climbing route when the group of Sherpa guides were making their way up to the higher camps to fix ropes and dig a path for their foreign clients ahead of next month's peak season for scaling the summit.

The avalanche struck an area known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m. Friday.

An injured survivor told his relatives that the path up the mountain was unstable just before the snow slide hit at an elevation just below 19,000 feet (5,800 meters). As soon as it occurred, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help.

Four survivors with serious injuries had to be airlifted to hospitals in Katmandu. Others with less serious injuries were being treated at base camp.

The avalanche struck just as hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews were at Everest's base camp preparing to climb the summit when weather conditions are at their most favorable early next month. They had been setting up camps at higher altitudes, and guides were fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.

One injured guide, Dawa Tashi, lay in the intensive care unit at Grande Hospital in the capital late Friday after being evacuated from the mountain. Doctors said he suffered several broken ribs.

Tashi told his relatives that the Sherpa guides woke up early and were on their way to fix ropes but were delayed because of the unsteady path. Suddenly, mounds of snow came tumbling down on the group and buried many of them, according to Tashi's sister-in-law, Dawa Yanju.

The Sherpa people are one of the main ethnic groups in Nepal's alpine region, and many make their living as climbing guides on Everest and other Himalayan peaks.

More than 4,000 climbers have summited Everest since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Hundreds have died attempting to reach the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak.

The worst recorded disaster on Everest had been a fierce blizzard on May 11, 1996, that caused the deaths of eight climbers, including famed mountaineer Rob Hall, and was later memorialized in a book, "Into Thin Air," by Jon Krakauer. Six Nepalese guides were killed in an avalanche in 1970.

Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at 17,380 feet (5,300 meters), where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season that ends in May.

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