OGDEN -- In the face of high winds, falling rocks and an enormous avalanche, two Ogden men are on their way to the top of Mt. Everest.
Friends Will Calton and Tom Burton, both 50, both of Ogden, make up half of a team climbing the Earth's highest mountain. Team leader Jeff Reynolds, of Santa Fe, N.M., and fellow climber Rob Cassady, from Colorado, make four.
This is the Ogden men's first go at Mt. Everest. And just their luck, it's during some of the worst conditions the region has seen in about a decade, said Calton's wife, Jill.
"They've had little snow, which has caused a lot of rocks that would normally be encased in snow and ice to fall."
It has been "a roller coaster" for her back home, she said. She's excited for her husband and proud of him, but she said not knowing where they are most of the time and being unable to contact them on a daily basis is very difficult.
"My days are full of worry," Jill Calton said.
She and the other climbers' families only hear from the team every four days, if that, because of poor satellite reception. Only villages below the base camp have Internet connections.
Both Jill Calton and Burton's wife, Gaylynne, read online blogs every day to check the weather and see how their men are progressing.
Reynolds has been relaying stories about their quest for the summit to Ogden Outdoor Adventure, a local news site for outdoor excursions.
As of the latest post, May 3, they had made it to Camp 3, one of four camps on the path to the top -- this one 23,500 feet above sea level.
Earlier, a massive avalanche from high up a neighboring peak wiped out most of Camp 1, the first stop from base camp.
The team wasn't at Camp 1 at the time of the slide, but another team that was there had to jump into a shallow crevasse to seek cover, Reynolds wrote in his dispatch.
A Sherpa also suffered minor back injuries and was evacuated to Katmandu, Nepal's capital city, according to the dispatch.
Almost 40 tents, including the Ogden men's, were wiped out by the time the avalanche was over.
They had to dig their tent out of the snow and recovered all of their gear.
Fortunately, they and their team feel confident enough about the rest of the climb that they won't need to return to that camp.
Gaylynne Burton got a call from her husband Saturday -- which, for the team that's 12 hours ahead, was Mother's Day.
Over a satellite phone, Tom Burton relayed that they were doing great and waiting for the weather to clear so they could climb farther up the mountain.
Although the weather has tried their patience, Gaylynne said, "They've got a good, positive attitude."
They originally expected to reach the top by Monday, but unfavorable conditions have set them back.
There was the avalanche, and one night, temperatures plummeted as the sun dropped below the ridgelines and the winds whipped up around them, collapsing the walls of their tent, according to a dispatch from Reynolds.
But they're not discouraged, both wives said, and they have come too far to stop now.
After flying halfway around the world, the climbers departed from base camp April 29. After reaching Camp 3 earlier this month, they took a much-needed break at lower altitude in the Nepalese village of Dingbouche to wait for good weather and figure out a strategy for reaching the summit, Reynolds wrote.
Right now, conditions are expected to stay favorable for the next few days, giving the team a shot at reaching the summit of Everest.
Jill Calton said the men expect to reach the summit by our Saturday -- their Sunday morning -- though the date is, and it has been, subject to change.
Ahead of them is Camp 4, about 3,000 feet above Camp 3. From there, it's another 2,200 feet to the south summit and a final 535-foot climb to the coveted top of the mountain.
But according to Reynolds' dispatches, other climbing teams' attempts to reach the summit haven't gone so well.
Many of the other teams have been discouraged by the weather or conditions on the mountain, Reynolds wrote. As a result, they haven't made the necessary advances to Camp 2 or Camp 3.
"I am pleased that we are not among these teams. I believe the relatively small size and high experience of the Summit Team has benefited our success ... We are doing well," Reynolds wrote.
He noted that he's impressed by the strength of his climbing teammates. Tom Burton and Will Calton have climbed the highest peaks on two continents together.
"In my 32 years of climbing experience, I would place the members of this Summit Team in the highest category of hardened climbers," Reynolds wrote. "Their performance makes a solid statement to this mountain that fortitude and character will prevail."
He added that while they were prepared with oxygen in the event that someone failed to acclimate to the elevation, no one has needed any, even at more than four and a half miles above sea level.
When they're not scaling the highest summit in the world, the climbers contemplate serious questions, such as whether the Himalayan Yeti is a vegetarian or if they should watch "Get Smart" for the fifth time or "Enchanted" for the seventh time on their iPad for movie night, Reynolds wrote.
The climbers expect to return to their wives and children around June 1.