Friday is being called the "deadliest day" ever on the world's highest peak. Tragedy swept down Mount Everest in its early hours, as an avalanche claimed the lives of at least 12 Sherpa guides.
Two Alaskans were on Mount Everest when it happened. Joyce Mayer says her husband, Douglas Franklin, was trekking Everest for the first time when he heard the snow slide.
"He was on a slope with a view of Everest by base camp when the avalanche happened," Mayer said.
Mayer says her husband, who does computer work for Cycle 360, always wanted to see Mount Everest.
"They were not at an angle where they could see the avalanche, but he definitely heard it," Mayer said. "He heard two really loud cracks, and when they got a view of the mountainside there was a really big scar in it."
Franklin's wife says rugged activity at home helped prepare him for his visit to Everest.
"He's a very active guy, he hikes and climbs all over the Chugach," Mayer said.
According to Mayer, Franklin hiked back to base camp where crews were already moving bodies off the mountain. He was descending as of Saturday morning.
Ty Hardt, the director of communications director for the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., climbed the mountain last year. He says it's not uncommon for avalanches to happen in what's known as the "popcorn field," where Friday's slide happened.
"You have a massive problem with avalanches along the western shoulder," Hardt said.
Hardt says the journey through the area is challenging.
"It's a section on the mountain that you don't spend a lot of time on, you don't take a lot of rest," Hardt said. "It's an area where it's OK to move as fast as you possibly can, because -- again -- the ice that you're moving on is continually moving."
Hardt says he's sure Friday's disaster will affect everyone on the mountain, whether or not they were at the scene of the avalanche.
"I'm sure right now the attitude at base camp is very somber," Hardt said.
Paula Leonard, a Sitka woman who was also on the mountain at the time the avalanche happened, posted on her Facebook page to reassure people back home.
"The avalanche was in the ice fall this morning. My team is good," Leonard wrote. "Thanks for all of the support."