A Tyrone man who was working as a guide at Everest base camp one when the Nepal earthquake hit, is now on his way home.
Rob Smith, who has family in both Coagh and Sion Mills, was at the bottom of the world’s highest mountain when the earthquake caused a massive avalanche that killed five Sherpas and put a further eight people in hospital.
Luckily he escaped injury.
The 43-year-old was taking a team up the mountain when the 7.8 magnitude quake, that has claimed over 5,000 lives, hit.
Leading a group of six, they had to be evacuated by helicopter as there was no other way down.
Speaking about Rob’s ordeal, his mother Dorothy said: “Rob was working as a guide, taking a team up Everest - they were stranded at camp one when the avalanche hit.
We have not heard from him since the accident - We would just like to hear him on the phone, hear his voice - Rob’s mother Dorothy
“There were five Sherpas killed and eight people were taken to hospital.
“There was no way down so on Monday they were evacuated by helicopter,” she told the Newsletter.
“There was no other way they could get back down to base camp. He had six people with him.”
She went on to say that when her son got to base camp with his group - that it too had been destroyed.
“Tomorrow they leave base camp and travel to Luckla airport for Kathmandu and hopefully after that, home,” his mother, who lives between Sion Mills and Strabane, added.
“We have not heard from him since the accident. He rang his fiancée to let everyone know that he was safe but we have not been speaking to him.
“We would just like to hear him on the phone, hear his voice. Base camp is not totally safe as there is bad weather there and aftershocks.”
A professional guide since 2000, Rob works for New Zealand company the Adventure Group, spending his summers in the Antarctic and leading mountain teams in the winter.
He was in the process of helping his team to acclimatise for their climb on Everest over a period of ten weeks.
This was his third expedition on the mountain.
Rob’s adventures began with the Scouts and since boyhood, he went on to study sports science and later countryside management at university.
“From there on it was all climbing,” his mother said.
He now lives in Fortwilliam in Scotland - where he is close to Ben Nevis.