Mountaineer who found Otzi feared dead

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The Independent Online

The German mountaineer who discovered Ötzi, the Bronze Age mummy, in a glacier more than a decade ago, was missing and presumed dead yesterday, three days after he set off on a four-hour climb in the Austrian Alps.

The German mountaineer who discovered Ötzi, the Bronze Age mummy, in a glacier more than a decade ago, was missing and presumed dead yesterday, three days after he set off on a four-hour climb in the Austrian Alps.

Rescuers said they had suspended the search for Helmut Simon, 67, because of the risk of avalanches. Mr Simon, a retired concierge from Nuremberg and passionate mountaineer, set off from Bad Hofgastein on Friday to climb the 2,465m (8,087ft) Gamskarkogel peak.

Gerald Lehner, a spokesman for the Salzburg-based rescue team, said: "Assuming he did not suffer a heart attack, but was lying stranded, he would have had no chance of surviving after Saturday night."

Mr Simon and his wife stumbled across Ötzi in a melting glacier while climbing in the South Tyrolean Ötztal mountains in 1991. The discovery of the 5,300-year-old preserved corpse was a scientific sensation that has shed light on important aspects of the Bronze Age.

But the discovery also provoked arow between Austria and Italy over ownership, because the mummy was on their border and it is still the subject of dispute. After six years on display in a museum in Innsbruck, Ötzi was moved to one in Bolzano in 1997.

Mr Simon's status as official discoverer was confirmed by Italian courts only last year. Since then he has been fighting for a reward. Italy offered him €25,000 (£17,000), which Mr Simon rejected. His lawyers demanded €250,000.

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