An estimated 100 climbers on Mount Everest are reported trapped above the site of a massive avalanche that killed at least 12 Himalayan guides early Friday.
Three other Sherpa guides were injured and four others remain missing, in what is believed to be the worst-ever climbing disaster on the world's tallest peak. Search and rescue efforts were to resume Saturday.
Noted mountaineer Alan Arnette, speaking from the site of the disaster, told CBS news the avalanche has brought the climbing community on Everest to a complete stop. He also writes in a blog that it could take days for the opening of new routes that will allow those stranded to reach safety.
Nepal's Tourism Ministry said the Sherpas, renowned for their climbing skills, set out to fix ropes for other climbers when disaster struck at 5,800 meters at a site known to climbers as the "popcorn field."
The avalanche struck ahead of the peak climbing season, with hundreds of climbers and guides at the mountain's base camp preparing to climb the 8,850-meter peak in the coming weeks. Weather conditions are at their most favorable in early May.
More than 4,000 climbers have scaled Mount Everest since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay completed the first ascent in 1953. Nearly 250 people have died trying.