sat in his
tent on Mt Everest, more than 600m above base camp.
and other members of a team with New Zealand-based Adventure Consultants
had spent the night at the mountain's Camp 1.
, 38, could barely stand as the ground jumped.
Then Gissurardottir, standing next to him, spotted a wall of snow and ice barrelling their way.
This was a minor avalanche, of the sort that Nepali guides often saw.
But to Watkins
, it looked like something out of a Hollywood movie.
ran to his
tent, convinced he
was in his
final moments, muttering what he
feared were his
final thoughts to any higher power that was with him high on the mountain.
grew up in Topeka, Kansas, dreaming of adventures.
A West Point graduate, he served in Afghanistan with the US Army and then spent a dozen or so years bouncing around war zones as a civilian contractor.
The danger was intoxicating.
But the memories of death and destruction stuck with him, too, and Watkins
was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2005.
eventually moved to Alaska and the previous month had completed the 1610km-long Iditarod dog sled race.
Up on Camp 1, Watkins
could hear bits of ice and snow pelting his
Up at Camp 1, Watkins
listened to radio transmissions from the valley below, the crackling filled with gruesome updates.
team's base camp was among the hardest hit.
walked over to his
team camp with Adventure Consultants
Six of the company's Nepali guides had been killed by the avalanche.
Seven more were among the injured.
and others excavated the ruins with ice axes and shovels, stopping as aftershocks rumbled the glacier.