DETROIT (WWJ) – The world’s highest mountain has seen its deadliest-ever disaster Friday.

As Nepalese Sherpa guides worked to set up ropes for other climbers on Mount Everest, an avalanche swept down the climbing route. At least 12 of the guides were killed.

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Scott Derue, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, climbed Everest last May and says very matter of fact, ” … Everest is a dangerous place.”

Derue says five of the sherpa who died were part of the team that assisted his ascent up the mountain. He describes the Sherpas as a very humble people, who in many cases have dedicated their lives to helping adventurers climb Mt. Everest.

“It’s not about the adventure for them – that’s their livelihood and in many cases these people are making enough money in two to three months to support their family, and in some cases their entire village.”

For Derue, the Sherpas helped give him a lifetime memory, “it was on a clear day and you can see for miles upon miles and three-hundred and sixty degrees, and I will forever cherish the videos I have and the memories I have,” he said of his trip to the top of Everest.

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CBS News reports that the avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak. Several more were injured.

The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche struck an area known as the “popcorn field” for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp, where he was monitoring rescue efforts.

An injured survivor told his relatives the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche struck at an elevation just below 21,000 feet. As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help.

“It took out many of the ladders, so this has now trapped over 100 climbers above the collapse, and also no one can climb below it,” Alan Arnette, an experienced climber who has scaled Everest four times, told CBS News. “So, basically, Everest has come to a complete stop at this point, and I’m sure many of the teams are reevaluating exactly how they want to move forward.”

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Rescue workers pulled out 12 bodies from under mounds of snow and ice and were searching for the four missing guides, Lamsal said. Officials had earlier said three were missing.