Sacramento man abandons Everest climb in wake of avalanche that killed Sherpa guides

Jim Geiger, a Sacramento climber who sought to become the oldest American to summit Mount Everest, announced today that he is abandoning the effort in the wake of an avalanche Friday that killed 16 Sherpa guides.

In a post on his blog today, Geiger said he was OK and doing well at the almost 18,000-foot elevation. But he said, “Since the accident on Friday my priorities have completely shifted away from climbing this mountain or setting any records. Respecting and honoring the 16 Sherpa that died and their families as well as honoring my responsibilities to my family and staying safe are of utmost importance now. In addition to remaining a supportive team member, it is very clear what I need to do. I have clarity, focus and grace.”

Geiger, 68, arrived at Everest base camp earlier this month and had been acclimating himself to the thin air. He was hoping to break the record for the oldest American climber, a mark held by Bill Burke, who made it to the summit and back at age 67. The oldest man to climb Mount Everest is Yuichiro Mirua of Japan, who reached the summit at age 80.

Before he left Sacramento in late March, Geiger said that he was in the best shape of his life. He has climbed many of the highest peaks in the world.