To set foot on Mount Everest is to risk death. Mountaineering tourists and their native Nepali guides both have this on their minds, as they straddle cavernous ravines in the ice.
But nothing could have prepared American climber Jon Reiter for last week's avalanche, the deadliest accident in the history of the world's highest peak.
"We've all seen death on the mountains," he told CNN. But to see so many limp bodies hanging from cables as helicopters brought them down the mountain shocked him.
Reiter was one of the fortunate ones. His Sherpa guide Dawa shoved him behind an ice block, when the icy avalanche thundered down, killing 13 Sherpa guides Friday.
Three more Sherpas are missing and feared dead. Buddhist clergy commended all 16 souls Monday in a religious ceremony.
The search for those still missing has been suspended and it is doubtful it will resume, Nepalese officials said.
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A high-altitude avalanche Friday killed 12 Sherpa guides and seriously wounded three in the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said.
Four others are missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal's Tourism Ministry, adding that six people were injured in total.
A group of about 50 people, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by the avalanche at more than 20,000 feet, said Tilak Ram Pandey of the ministry's mountaineering department.
The avalanche took place just above base camp in the Khumbu Ice Fall.
The climbers were accounted for, Pandey said. "Rescue teams have gone ... to look for the missing."
Before Friday, the deadliest single-day toll was from an accident in May 1996, when eight climbers disappeared when a huge storm hit. Their tragic story was chronicled in Jon Krakauer's bestselling book "Into Thin Air."
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