A former Petaluma man hiking toward Mount Everest who was unaccounted for after a deadly earthquake struck Nepal has been found and is alive and well, his family said Tuesday.
Spencer Dickinson, 21, was on board a helicopter headed to Kathmandu, said his father, Bob Dickinson.
The 2011 Petaluma High School graduate called his dad at about 7:50 p.m. via satellite phone and asked him to tell his mom he was OK, Bob Dickinson said.
Bob Dickinson said he let out a scream when he heard his son’s voice.
“I am overjoyed,” the father said. “I can’t even tell you.”
Spencer Dickinson provided few details during the brief conversation but said he was on a helicopter that was transporting dead bodies off the mountain, his father said.
He had time for “about three sentences” of conversation and did not say when he would call again, Bob Dickinson said.
“It sounds like it’s been quite a harrowing experience,” the father said. “We know he’s alive. He sounded good. He sounded strong.”
His mother, Lisa Rosenbush, said she got the word from Bob Dickinson as she was attending a vigil for Nepalese earthquake victims at UC Santa Barbara.
Rosenbush said she hasn’t slept since her son went missing over the weekend. “I’m exhausted,” she said. “I can’t wait to sleep.”
Social media sites broadcast Dickinson’s discovery in celebratory fashion.
Spencer Dickinson’s last prior contact with his family was on April 19, when he told his mother via Skype that he was in Namche Bazaar, a Himalayan village on the hiking route to Everest, and planned to head toward the mountain’s base camp, arriving in six or seven days.
Among the more than 5,000 quake casualties are 18 people who perished when the magnitude-7.8 temblor triggered an avalanche that buried part of the camp at 17,700 feet on Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. The disaster hit at the start of the spring season, when people from around the world attempt to reach the 29,035-foot summit.
Two Sonoma County residents who were in Nepal to climb Everest — Scott Holder, a Santa Rosa financial adviser, and Jon Reiter, a Kenwood contractor — were not caught in the avalanche.
Bob Dickinson said his fears were somewhat allayed by email reports from a cinematographer that an Everest guide had seen Spencer Dickinson heading down toward the village of Lobuche on Saturday morning before the avalanche struck. He could not confirm Tuesday night that that is what happened.
Bob Dickinson said he was “thinking positive thoughts” and envisioning his son assisting in Nepal’s rescue and recovery efforts. “I’m not grieving,” he said. “I’m just anxious. Worried sick as a father.”
After high school in Petaluma, Spencer Dickinson spent two years at junior college in Santa Barbara and moved to Hollywood. He had reached Nepal during the course of a six-month “spiritual journey” that had previously taken him to Thailand and Sri Lanka, his father said.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ppayne.