Tragedy has befallen climbers on Mount Everest, as a Sacramento man tries to become the oldest American to summit the highest peak.

At least a dozen Sherpa guides are dead after an avalanche plowed down a slope of the mountain.

A Tourism Ministry official says three mountaineering guides were also hurt today and up to five people are missing.  

Helicopters and teams on foot are joining the rescue efforts. 

Jim Geiger, 68, of Sacramento is on the mountain attempting to become the oldest American to summit Mount Everest.

Hours after the avalanche hit, Geiger reportedly sent an email to family saying he was safe.

But, the rush of snow hit the most popular route to Mount Everest's peak.  

This marks the first major avalanche of the climbing season and the deadliest in eight years.