By Kelly Ryan

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A Sacramento man attempting to set a record summiting Mount Everest arrived home safe tonight after abandoning that effort.

“There’s some disappointment setting in because we didn’t get to climb and that’s the reason we went there,” said climber Jim Geiger.

Geiger was attempting to become the oldest American to summit the peak when a deadly avalanche killed more than a dozen people.

CBS13’s Kelly Ryan talked to the veteran climber as he arrived home to a large crowd of well-wishers.

There was a great deal of excitement and relief as family members welcomed 68-year-old Geiger home after a terrifying experience on Mt. Everest.

Happy to be greeted by a big crowd, this was not the trip ending Geiger expected. He’s bringing back some difficult memories.

“It was a disaster, and it’s a heartbreaking disaster that happened,” said Geiger.

The experienced mountain climber was ready to summit Mt. Everest on 16 April when an avalanche struck, killing 16 sherpas.

“I was there at base camp when it happened at 6:30 in the morning and we heard the rumbling,” said Geiger.

“All of a sudden we got the news at about 7 o’clock that 12 people were lost — some missing. Then all of a sudden we were up to 16 — very, very sad,” said Geiger.

Family members first heard news reports

“There’s this big avalanche above Camp 2 and that’s where he was,” said grandson Robert Prescott.

“My sister called me about the avalanche and I was panicked. We heard he was okay and we heard that a bunch of sherpas died and that was heart-wrenching,” said daughter Deanna Geiger.

Geiger said it was frightening watching rescue teams bringing down the victims.

“Very, very difficult to watch the bodies being flown off. It was so sad,” said Geiger.

A dream was dashed when the accident shut down the mountain. But Geiger says his decision to quit was the right one.

“Once that happened it was all about honoring the sherpa and their desires that we don’t go up through the ice flow, so that was what we had to do,” said Geiger.

I asked Geiger if he would attempt to climb Mt. Everest again. He said right now it’s still too early to tell but that’s been a goal of his for many years.

Geiger is a husband, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He says being able to return home to his family played a big decision in him leaving the mountain.


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