A Florida attorney set to scale the world’s tallest mountain Friday says moments after the avalanche swept the Everest’s slopes killing at least 12 Sherpas, climbers from the base camp scrambled to find them.

MyFoxTampaBay.com reported that Tampa Bay attorney Jeff Brown, an avid climber,  was at Everest’s base camp when at least a dozen Sherpas died in the avalanche. The camp is crowded because weather in May is known to allow climbers the greatest chance to summit.

"It's just been a really tragic day," Brown said. "It's unbelievable."

Brown told the station that the Sherpas left the base camp early to fix ropes for hundreds of climbers and their guides. These Sherpas, all Nepalese, had been setting up camps at higher altitudes.

Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association said the area where the avalanche hit is nicknamed the "popcorn field" and is just below Camp 2 at 21,000 feet.

Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at 17,380 feet, where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season that ends in May.

The Associated Press contributed to this report