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The Sherpas on his team were unharmed, he said. The guides "are truly amazing," Reiter wrote on his blog Friday. "We are shaken but OK. Unfortunately there are some still up there who were not so lucky today. As I write this I feel emotional and don't know what to say. One thought is that we were so lucky. But the overwhelming feelings are for the poor families of the people that didn't make it."

The Healdsburg High School graduate, who is on his second bid to climb the 29,035-foot Everest, told his wife, Susan, that he is going to reassess the ascent before deciding whether to continue.

"He said it was horrible watching the helicopters getting the dead bodies down," she said. "Physically, he's doing great. Emotionally, he's in a state of shock."

Mount Everest in Nepal is the last challenge in Reiter's goal of climbing the highest peak on each continent — the so-called Seven Summits.

He was forced to turn back on Everest last year at about the same spot when an ice bridge collapsed and cut off his team's climbing route.

Reiter, a father of two boys who builds custom homes in the Sonoma Valley, appeared in his online post, at jononeverest.blogspot.com, to be contemplating his mountaineering goals in the wake of the disaster that also injured several climbers.

"Of course we are all asking ourselves that serious question of &‘why are we here?'" he wrote. "I feel so grateful. I do know this is part of climbing these big mountains and I'm willing to accept the risk. But I do love and appreciate my family and friends more than this adventure. I have a wonderful life and I'm so lucky today."

In the interview Friday evening (Saturday morning in Nepal), Reiter resolved to continue the climb in a few days.

"We'll probably go up," he said. "It was a horrible day, but that's part of being in the mountains. We'll sit quietly for a couple of days. Then we're going to go on. But we'll play it safe."

Hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews are at Everest's base preparing to climb to the summit when weather conditions will be at their most favorable early next month. They have been setting up camps at higher altitudes, and guides have been fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.

Western climbers pay upward of $50,000 for the experience, which, over the years, has included increasing luxuries. Reiter's tented base camp includes a Wi-Fi connection, which is how he has communicated with family and friends, he said.

More than 4,000 climbers have summited Everest since 1953, when New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the top of the famed Himalayan peak. Hundreds have died attempting the same feat.

Before Friday's tragedy, the worst recorded disaster on Everest had been a snowstorm on May 10-11, 1996, that caused the deaths of eight climbers. The deadly episode was chronicled by American author and climber Jon Krakauer in his book "Into Thin Air."

An avalanche on the mountain in 1970 killed six Nepalese guides.

Reiter took up serious mountain climbing after his younger brother, Jesse, was shot and killed during a carjacking in Sacramento in 2007, said his mother, Carol Reiter. He carries his brother's ashes on each of his climbs, she said.

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"He's very driven," said Carol Reiter, an Oakmont resident. "We don't understand why he does it, but he loves to climb."

Reiter trains for major expeditions by climbing the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades.

He climbed 20,322-foot Denali in Alaska, the highest peak in North America, in 2008. That same year, he knocked off 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa's high point, and he attempted Mount Aconcagua, the 22,841-foot apex of South America.

Near the summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, Reiter experienced trouble breathing and was forced to abort the climb. A helicopter plucked him off the mountain and carried him to a safe elevation.

Doctors later discovered that Reiter had a tumor in his lungs and performed a double lobectomy. Nine months after the surgery, he was standing on top of Antarctica's 16,050-foot Vinson Massif.

His Seven Summits goal back on track, Reiter next climbed Russia's 18,554-foot Mount Elbrus and Puncak Jaya, a remote, craggy 16,024-foot peak on the Indonesian side of the island of New Guinea that is considered the highest point in Oceania.

Reiter returned to Argentina to tick Aconcagua off his list, which left Everest, the highest point in Asia and the world, and the goal of many a mountaineer.

Climbers who know Reiter say he is level-headed and cautious in potentially dangerous situations. Sonoma mountaineer Jacob Lange, who has climbed with Reiter on expeditions to Elbrus and Aconcagua and in California, said he would not take an unnecessary risk on Everest.

"He values life and family enough to where he knows that getting to the top does not trump the experience," Lange said. "He's got a sound mind and he is a calculated climber. He should be okay."

Staff Writer Chris Smith and the Associated Press contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.

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