SPOKANE, Wash. -

An avalanche on Mt. Everest has claimed the lives of 13 sherpa from Nepal, some of whom were working for a Seattle-based climbing company, in the single deadliest disaster on the tallest mountain in the world.

Witnesses said the deadly avalanche came out of nowhere during the early morning hours as the guides had gone to set up ropes for hundreds of climbers gathered at base camp.

Among the dead were five sherpa who were contracted through the Seattle guide company Alpine Ascents.

Local climber Kay Leclaire summated Everest in 2009, used Alpine Ascents before and has been to the exact spot where the sherpa were killed.

"They were wonderful strong people," Leclaire said.

When she summited Everest in 2009, Chhewang Nima Sherpa was by her side. The next year he was killed while climbing.

Sherpa are native mountain people who are extremely fit. Many have climbed Everest multiple times.

"Most climbers, the majority of us, would not be able to summit Everest without their help," Leclaire said.

Thirteen of those sherpa were killed Thursday and three others remain missing. Leclaire recognized a few of the names among the dead and missing.

"Always had a sense of humor and hardworking and caring," she said.

The deadly avalanche happened near an ice fall and sherpa were setting up ropes for climbers where the terrain is unstable. Leclaire even snapped a shot of an avalanche in the area back in 2009.

"That particular section is extremely dangerous and it's just prone to avalanches," she said.

"While you expect something like this, you hope it will never happen," Leclaire added.

Meanwhile a Coeur d'Alene climber who's up at the Mt. Everest base camp is safe. The wife of Peter Erbland said Friday she heard from him shortly after it happened and he is okay.