July 19, 2024

Rescuers successfully retrieved the bodies of an American climber and her guide from the slopes of Mount Shishapangma, in the Chinese region of Tibet, more than seven months after they were lost while trying to summit the world’s 14th tallest peak.

The American climber, Anna Gutu, 33, and the guide, Mingmar Sherpa, 27, were buried in the avalanche around Oct. 7, 2023, while racing to make history: Ms. Gutu had hoped to become the first American woman to climb 14 mountains higher than 8,000 meters (26, 247 feet). Mount Shishapangma rises 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) above sea level.

The climbers’ bodies were brought to Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, on Saturday, after being retrieved last week, according to Elite Exped, the expedition company.

A team of nine climbers led by Nirmal Purja, popularly known as Nimsdai, brought back the bodies in a rescue mission that lasted for three days and nights. Of the rescuers involved in the mission, three fell ill; two had to be put on oxygen by the time they reached the beginning of the glacier; and one was sent on another mission, to Mount Everest.

“We were able to climb on Shishapangma and were able to bring them down the mountain and cross the border,” Nimsdai wrote on X, “From there we brought them to Kathmandu and onward to be reunited with their families.”

Nimsdai, who has summited peaks higher than 8,000 meters 45 times — more than anyone else in history — said the retrieval mission was one of the most challenging tasks he had ever undertaken.

Another American woman, Gina Marie Rzucidlo, and her guide, Tenjen Lama, were on Mount Shishapangma at the same time as Ms. Gutu and Mr. Sherpa, trying to best Ms. Gutu to achieve the record. Pushing herself to reach the summit before her competitor, Ms. Rzucidlo and Mr. Lama were caught in a separate avalanche and buried. Both died.

Mr. Lama, a renowned mountain guide working with a Norwegian climber, Kristin Harila., had already set a world record, for having climbed the 14 tallest peaks in 92 days, faster than anyone.

Seven Summit Treks, another expedition company, arranged for Mr. Lama to work with Ms. Rzucidlo.

An effort to bring back the bodies of Ms. Rzucidlo and Mr. Lama this spring was postponed after China denied the rescuers permission to enter Tibet. The two bodies remain on the mountain. Mr. Lama’s former climbing partner, Ms. Harila, had become involved in trying to bring his body back to Nepal.

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