TODAY   |  April 19, 2014

Mountaineer: 4 day delay after Everest tragedy 'appropriate'

Everest crews suspended their search for avalanche survivors Saturday as officials closed the mountain for four days out of respect for more than a dozen Sherpa guides who died in the tragedy. NBC's Duncan Golestani reports, and climber Ed Viesturs tells TODAY's Lester Holt about why the delay is an “appropriate” length.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is grabbing the world's attention. that is the deadly avalanche on mt. everest . crews managed to recover a 13th body overnight. the search has been suspended for three other people still missing.

>>> they've been working since early yesterday. first trying to rescue people, then recovering bodies. police now mountain guides . clearing a path for climbers when the avalanche happened. the mountain has been closed for four days. some are saying they will consult with their guides and continue their climb to the summit. others are calling their trip off, saying this was a reality check and spoken of a feeling of guilt because they were preparing the route for their clients, making their way through one of the most dangerous areas on everest , where huge blocks of ice hung over a passage way. those boulders, some bigger than houses, can break free without warning. they suddenly saw mounds of snow tumbling down on to them. fellow guides and climbers rushed to help. pictures of the rescue and recovery effort have come from an nbc news crew on site, preparing for production for the discovery channel . thankfully, we can say all nbc news employees are safe. we know their thoughts are with those who are injured and those who lost their lives. erica?

>> duncan golestani, thank you.

>>> "the mountain: my time on everest ." thanks for being on with us.

>> thanks for having me.

>> this is an area, i understand, mountaineers want to get through quickly but you can't really hurry through it at the same time. what's it like going through there?

>> it's this three or four-hour trip from base camp to camp one. and it's this gigantic area of jumbled ice blocks, there's cre crevaces. you try to move as quickly as possible. there's certain sections where you cause to be delayed, you're crossing a bridge. you're waiting for somebody in front of you. and there are certain places where if a block of ice tumbles and you happen to be under it at the wrong place at the wrong time, that's the tragic part.

>> tell me about the sherpas. obviously, they're the most experienced ones here, carry all the gear for the climbers. they were all together, close together when this happened. does that surprise you?

>> no. you know, i've been on that mountain many times, and the sherpas usually leave very early from base camp , carrying loads of equipment to camp one. and they tend to like to climb close together. they're friends. they work together. they know each other. and rather than separating, which actually would be a little safer, they like to climb as a clustered group. and, sadly, if there's a certain amount of people in one spot and something happens, there's more people that are going to be affected by that block of ice that might tumble and fall, which is what happened here.

>> i want to then ask you about the reality. we think of mountaineering as a solitary pursuit. there are a lot of people that gather for this climbing season. there's been a delay now. the question we raised at the top, should there be a longer delay? given what people invest to take part in this, the short season, do you think that's going to happen?

>> you know, i think the short four-day delay in respect for what happened is appropriate. and then the individuals and team leaders will have to sit down and make some decisions. some people are just going to say i'm done. i need to go home. this isn't really what i want to experience anymore and others, of course, are going to want to continue. you can't delay too long because the window of good weather is very short. by the end of may, the climbing season is literally over. so, things either have to keep going completely, as they have started, or people simply have to shut down and go home.

>> it's so good to talk with you. thank you so much for coming on with us this morning.

>> thank you.