Search teams recovered a 13th body from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.
Another three guides remained missing, and searchers were working quickly to find them in case weather conditions deteriorated, said Maddhu Sunan Burlakoti, head of the Nepalese government's mountaineering department.
But the painstaking effort involved testing the strength of newly fallen snow and using extra ropes, clamps and aluminum ladders to navigate the unstable field.
The avalanche barreled down a narrow climbing pass known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m. Friday.
The group of about 25 Sherpa guides were the first people making their way up this climbing season to dig paths and fix ropes for their foreign clients to use in attempting to reach the summit next month. One of the survivors told his relatives that the path had been unstable just before the snow slide hit at an elevation near 19,000 feet.
The area is considered particularly dangerous due to its steep slope and deep crevasses that cut through the snow and ice covering the pass year round. As soon as the avalanche occurred, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help, and all other climbing was suspended.
First published April 19 2014, 6:01 AM