California Man Survives Avalanche on Mount Everest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    File - Mount Everest, at 8,850-meter (29,035-foot), the world's tallest mountain situated in the Nepal-Tibet border as seen from an airplane, Tuesday, May 6, 2003.

    A California man says he feels lucky that he survived an avalanche that killed at least 13 people on Mount Everest.

    Kenwood, Calif., contractor Jon Reiter and his Australian climbing partner were climbing above 20,000 feet on the world's highest peak Friday when the avalanche swept down the climbing route.

    His Sherpa guide pushed him behind some ice blocks and out of harm's way, Reiter told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat 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.

    "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."

    Mount Everest is the last challenge in Reiter's goal of climbing the highest peak on each continent.

    It was his second attempt to climb the 29,035-foot mountain. Last year, he was forced to turn back around the same spot when an ice bridge collapsed and cut off his team's climbing route.

    Reiter told the newspaper he will likely wait a few days before continuing the ascent up Everest.

    Friday's avalanche slammed a group of about 25 Sherpa guides who were hauling gear to the higher camps that their foreign clients would use in attempting to reach the summit.

    "We are shaken but OK," Reiter wrote on his blog. "One thought is that we were so lucky. But the overwhelming feelings are for the poor families of the people that didn't make it."