Edmonton man climbing mountain in Nepal during quake describes his experience

WATCH ABOVE: The impact of Nepal’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake is being felt in Edmonton as many in the Nepalese community worry about those back home. Eric Szeto reports. 

EDMONTON – An Edmonton man who is attempting to become the first Canadian to summit the world’s 14 tallest peaks is alive and safe following the Nepal earthquake.

Al Hancock was at Annapurna base camp when Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake shook the Himalayan nation, killing more than 2,500 people. In a voicemail left with his PR representative, the 55-year-old high-altitude climber said he and his team are lucky to be alive.

“You probably heard the news; we had a major, major earthquake today,” Hancock said from his satellite phone. “It shook here at base camp. We thought that the whole mountain would cover the tent and it just went on and on.”

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READ MORE: How Canadians can help the victims of the Nepal earthquake

The day before, Hancock and his team were at Annapurna’s camp 4 when an avalanche hit.*

“An avalanche hit us, just about buried us in our tents, we had to use our knives to cut our way out … After that, myself and two sherpas had to do a rescue of a teammate,” Hancock said, his phone cutting out.

After spending more than 12 hours attempting to reach the summit, the group turned back and made its way down to base camp.

“We were so lucky. We got down from the mountain yesterday. No summit. We made a gallant effort,” Hancock said in his voicemail. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”

Global News spoke to Hancock in February as he was preparing for his big 14 challenge. He spent fours hour a day, every day, training for the trek.

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“The plan is the mental game, then there’s a physical game, then it’s the cohesiveness of the team, and then it’s Mother Nature and she really decides who gets to the top and who gets to come home,” Hancock said in February.

WATCH: Al Hancock prepares for big 14 challenge

After taking on Annapurna, Hancock planned to go on to Lotshi. Then after resting up in Nepal, Hancock hoped to travel to Pakistan to conquer Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum II.

At this point it’s not known if Hancock will follow those plans. His PR representative says she will learn more about his plans in the coming days when they touch base again. No one in Hancock’s team was injured in the avalanche.

*Editor’s note: This story previously stated Hancock was in an avalanche following the earthquake. Global News has since learned he was at camp 4 when the avalanche occurred. 

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