Columbus mountain climber recalls Mt. Everest dangers on day of - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Columbus mountain climber recalls Mt. Everest dangers on day of record tragedy

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Bud Allen Bud Allen
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It's being called the worst single incident of fatalities in the history of climbing Mount Everest.

As of Friday evening, April 18, 14 are confirmed dead and 4 are still missing in an avalanche on the world's highest mountain.

A man from Columbus who has attempted the climb several times recalls the dangerous pass where Friday morning's tragedy took place.  

Bud Allen has been to Mount Everest three times, and he's lost a member of his team on every trip. In an average year, he says the mountain will claim about seven or eight lives throughout the entire climbing season.

Friday's avalanche has already far exceeded that number.  Allen said the amount of snow that abruptly came loose is enough to fill several Superdomes.

"There's millions of tons of snow that collapsed and rumbled down the mountain. A number of these guys will probably never be found," said Allen.

Allen passed through the same area where the tragedy occurred. In 2012, he said he nearly missed being the victim of an avalanche himself when one slid down over the camp where he slept the night before.

Allen has never made it to the top, always forced to turn back due to dangerous conditions.  He said the key to survival is knowing when to quit.

"You don't call 911. Above 18,000 feet, you're on your own. There's no helicopter rescue. There's no way anybody can help you," he says.

Helicopters can't fly at the highest altitudes of the mountain, because the air is too thin for the rotors to gain traction. 

All of the people killed in Friday's accident are Sherpa, very experienced climbers who are native to the area and make a living out of guiding visitors to the top. But no amount of experience can beat a natural disaster of this magnitude.

"The community that climbs Everest is a very small community," Allen says. "This touches a lot of people, and it's a tremendous tragedy."

Allen said some of the Sherpa who guide western climbers are related by blood, and there's a good chance that multiple victims could be from the same family.

In spite of the danger, Allen said he is determined to return to Everest to finally reach the summit. And when he does, he'll be one of a few hundred people to have climbed the highest mountain on every continent.

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