Reiter survives Everest avalanche

<p align="left">Kenwood climber and custom-home contractor, Jon Reiter, attempting to summit Mt. Everest, has survived a devastating avalanche Friday that thundered through the Khumbu Icefall, killing at least 16 Sherpa guides and injuring three. At this writing two more remained missing.</p>

<p align="left">It was the deadliest accident in Mt. Everest climbing history.</p>

<p align="left">The Sherpas were reportedly moving gear through the icefall to higher camps, a routine practice preceding the push to higher altitudes by Everest expeditions.</p>

<p align="left">Reiter was making his second Everest attempt, in his effort to complete the Seven Summits, the highest peak on every continent. He has already climbed the other six, most of them after losing much of one lung to cancer.</p>

<p align="left">Reiter and climbing partner Marcus Bridle, of Melbourne, Australia, were in the icefall with a group of Sherpas when the avalanche hit. The Khumbu icefall is a 3,000-foot chaos of frozen ice that fractures and splits into giant blocks and deep crevasses as the glacier flows off the side of Mt. Everest, traveling an estimated four feet a day. It has historically been the most dangerous part of an Everest climb, subject to unpredictable shifting and sudden explosions of falling snow and ice separating from overhanging mountain walls.</p>

<p align="left">Because of the danger of warming snow and ice letting go, passage through the icefall is usually attempted very early in the morning, sometimes during pre-dawn hours.</p>

<p align="left">By agreement with the government of Nepal, teams of expert Sherpas set the aluminum ladders and stationary ropes that lead climbers through the icefall. Those Sherpas, who in the course of a climbing season will make dozens of trips through the heart of the icefall, run the greatest risk of all Everest climbers.</p>

<p align="left">The following blog reports Reiter sent from Everest explain how the Sherpas saved his life and what has happened since the avalanche.</p>

<p align="left">“There was a large avalanche in the icefall today,” writes Reiter. “It came down off the left shoulder of Everest just as we were entering the ‘football’ field, which is just below camp one. Marcus and I were each pushed down behind large blocks of ice by our Sherpas, which shielded us from the brunt. These guys are truly amazing! We are shaken, but OK. Unfortunately, there are some still up there who were not so lucky today. As I write this, I feel emotional and don’t know what to say. 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.</p>

<p align="left">“I’m so near to this situation right now that I can’t think straight. Of course we are all asking ourselves that serious question of, ‘Why are we here?’ I don’t want to try to answer that question in this state of mind but it is the big question floating over our whole camp today.</p>

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