SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The death toll from last weekend's earthquake in Nepal has reached 7,000.

On Saturday, U.N. humanitarian officials say more helicopters are needed to reach isolated mountain villages. As the clean up continues, stories of hope are emerging, including one that involves a 21-year-old California native whose family lives in Coronado. 

21-year-old Spencer Dickinson set out to Nepal on a soul searching journey. Little did he know that he would wind up surviving a devastating earthquake and befriending a local family.

He was on his way to climb Mount Everest and bought a pair of hiking boots from a shoe shiner who later invited him home.

"He told me he was a shoe shiner and that he had hiking boots for me at his house. I was reluctant at first but decided to follow him back," says Spencer.

Spencer says the man introduced him to his family. He also made him tea and fed him lunch.

"The family was so warm and welcoming to me and they had so little."

After parting ways with the family, Spencer was off to Everest.

"When the first quake hit, I fell to the grown," he said. "I was traversing across a steep pass and, you know, I thought it was the altitude messing with my head. I thought I was dizzy."

Spencer was stranded for four days before a helicopter airlifted him back to safety.

When he arrived in Kathmandu, his first instinct was to go home to California, but instead he decided to check on the family who had sold him his boots.

He found their home, like so many others, in ruins. 

"I originally passed their building and didn't even recognize it. I came back and poked my head in here and was really scared to see if they made it," he said. To his surprise, he found they were alive. "I was amazed. I was shocked they were still alive."

Spencer says he is going to remain in Nepal to help them rebuild.

"I'm trying to make a big impact for one family instead of small impacts here and there. I want to put another roof over their head."