Partly sunny

Reiter reflects on Everest tragedy

Kenwood contractor Jon Reiter was standing some 15 feet downslope from Dawa Sherpa, both men clipped into a fixed rope snaking through the final few hundred yards of the Khumbu Icefall, statistically the most treacherous part of the southern route up Mt. Everest, when all frozen hell let loose.

A huge chunk of a hanging glacier broke free of the mountain’s west shoulder and thundered into the icefall like a meteor, exploding into a furious cloud of ice particles and lethal chunks, sending a billowing wave of frozen debris churning down the route that three or four dozen climbers were following up to Camp I.

“That first second or two when it cracked off, maybe the first tenth of a second, I had the thought that, ‘Maybe I should film that.’ I had been filming avalanches every day.”

But then Reiter looked up at Dawa, who had his back to the advancing storm and was waving his arms and screaming at Reiter to get down, to take cover.

“My next thought was, ‘Oh my God, how many people are underneath that.’ But Dawa wasn’t thinking about himself. He was standing there, warning me, and I could hear chunks of snow slamming into his head. It was like a hail storm coming right at you.”

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