American mountaineer among two killed by avalanches on Tibetan mountain as two others remain missing

Anna Gutu was chasing to become first American woman to climb the true summits of all 8000m peaks

Namita Singh
Sunday 08 October 2023 13:41 BST
Comments
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Mount Shishapangma is seen from Baiku Lake in Xigaze, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region on 2 September 2023
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Mount Shishapangma is seen from Baiku Lake in Xigaze, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region on 2 September 2023 (AP)

An American and a Nepalese mountaineer were confirmed dead on Sunday after avalanches struck high on the slopes of a Tibetan mountain, as reported by local media.

Anna Gutu was climbing Shishapangma, the world’s 14th tallest peak when two avalanches hit its slopes at elevations of 7,600m and 8,000m on Saturday, killing American climber along with her guide Mingmar Sherpa, reported Xinhua news agency.

American climber Gina Marie Rzucidlo and her Nepalese guide, Tenjen Sherpa, were reported missing by Chinese state media. Both Gutu and Rzucidlo were racing to become the first American women to climb the true summits of all 8,000-metre peaks.

Mr Sherpa guided Norway’s Kristin Harila in July of this year as they successfully climbed K2 in Pakistan, becoming the world’s fastest climbers to scale all 14 peaks over 8,000 metres. Their bodies were recovered by a team led by Mingma G from Imagine Nepal Treks, as reported by the Himalayan Times.

A total of 52 climbers, including those from the United States, Britain, Romania, Albania, Italy, Japan and Pakistan were pushing for the summit when the avalanches hit, the outlet reported. It seriously injured Nepalese mountain guide Karma Geljen Sherpa, who was escorted down the mountain by rescuers and is currently in stable condition.

Two Pakistani climbers narrowly escaped the avalanches on Saturday after calling off their summit bid because of poor weather despite coming within a few hundred metres of the peak, Pakistani media reported.

According to private estimates reported by Reuters, more than 300 successful summits of Shishapangma have been logged to date, with fewer than 10 per cent of climbers who attempted to reach the top dying in their attempts.

File: Nepal's sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa, 35, smiles during an interview with the Associated Press in Kathmandu, Nepal
File: Nepal's sherpa guide Tenjen Sherpa, 35, smiles during an interview with the Associated Press in Kathmandu, Nepal (AP)

Among those who had previously died on Shishapangma was famed American climber Alex Lowe in 1999, also because of an avalanche.

His body as well as the remains of his climbing companion David Bridges were found in 2016 in a partially melted glacier.

October is a popular time to trek the Himalayas as it’s after the rainy monsoon season, but experts have cautioned that climate change has increased the risk of avalanches in the region.

At least 120 people in the Indian Himalayas were killed by avalanches over the past two years.

Additional reporting from the agencies

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in