Second American woman killed on remote Tibet peak

Tragic end: Gutu was killed after two avalanches hit the Shishapangma mountain last Saturday. — The Straits Times/ANN

BEIJING: A second woman hoping to be the first American female climber to scale all of the world’s 8,000m mountains has been declared dead on a remote peak in Tibet, according to her family.

China has suspended all activities on Shishapangma since two avalanches hit the mountain on Saturday, killing American climber Anna Gutu and her Nepalese guide Mingmar Sherpa, according to Chinese state media.

Fellow American climber Gina Marie Rzucidlo and her Nepalese guide Tenjen Sherpa were declared missing on the same day when avalanches hit the slopes at elevations of 7,600m and 8,000m as more than 50 mountaineers and their guides made their way up the peak.

“The Rzucidlo family wants to share that Chinese authorities have declared my sister Gina and her Sherpa Tenjen Lama as deceased,” said Christy Rzucidlo in a post on Facebook.

“Requests for search by helicopter from Nepal have been declined by the Chinese government. We have been told the search for their bodies may resume in the spring once weather conditions are favourable.”

Rzucidlo and Gutu were climbing separately with their sherpas in their bids to become the first American female to scale all of the world’s 14 peaks that exceed 8,000m in elevation.

Shishapangma was their final summit.

Rzucidlo’s climbing companion, Tenjen Sherpa, was recently the guide for Norway’s Kristin Harila when they ascended K2 Pakistan in July, completing their final 8,000-m peak in 92 days and becoming the world’s fastest climbers to scale all of the world’s 14 tallest peaks. Tenjen Sherpa and Kristin Harila summitted Shishapangma in April.

Chinese authorities started to allow foreign climbing expeditions to enter Tibet in 2023 after dismantling three years of zero-Covid restrictions that denied foreign mountaineers their chance to summit Shishapangma, which lies entirely in China.

Shishapangma is widely regarded as one of the easier mountains of that height, known among climbers as the “eight-thousanders”. — Reuters

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