DENVER (CBS4) – A climber from Colorado has been waiting at Everest Base Camp to see if he’ll be able to scale the mountain. There’s talk of canceling all Mount Everest climbs after last week’s deadly avalanche.
Crews struggled over the weekend to get to more than a dozen Sherpas killed in Friday’s avalanche. The mountain’s most experienced guides are so shaken they may not go up again this season, and that could leave a Colorado man stranded in Nepal for more than a month.
Ricardo Pena, a mountaineer from Broomfield, was leaving Mount Everest’s base camp as disaster unfolded up the trail.
“They were looking at the ice fall as the avalanche happened. So he literally saw it with his own eyes. He heard the thundering of the avalanche,” Ricardo Pena’s brother Victor Pena told CBS4.
Ricardo Pena has been training, trying to acclimate to the Nepalese altitude before his own climb. He was there as rescuers brought survivors from the avalanche field to medical tents.
Ricardo Pena called his family, relieved he was not on the mountain at the time.
“He sounded a little bit shell-shocked and he had seen things that he had never seen before,” Victor Pena said. “He did point out that he saw the fear in a couple of the Sherpas’ eyes.”
Sherpas are threatening to boycott the climbing season altogether.
Before outfits can resume their climb, sections of the path will need to be re-secured. Several large climbing companies have already pulled out of their plans to summit the mountain. There may be added pressure from for everyone else to follow suit.
On his blog, Ricardo Pena said, “If our Sherpas decide they do not want to continue we will have to respect their decision, but so far it looks like they will want to continue.”
“We have all been weary of the idea and Everest has been in Ricardo’s imagination his entire life,” Victor Pena said.
Ricardo Pena raised $30,000 for his Everest expedition. His brother says if he can’t summit the mountain before his return date he probably never will.
Only a few hundred people are allowed to summit Everest every year. Ricardo Pena hopes to climb the mountain in the last week of May. His family says the avalanche hasn’t added more fear for them because the climb is inherently dangerous to begin with.