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Nims Recovers Bodies of American Woman and Sherpa Attempting Record-Setting Climbs

The recovery occurred on Shishapangma, the same mountain where Kristin Harila was denied a similar request to recover her former climbing partner.
View,Of,Upper,Langtang,Valley,With,Mt.,Sishapangma,In,TheView of upper Langtang Valley with Mt. Sishapangma in the background; (photo/Shutterstock)
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The bodies of an American climber and her Sherpa guide were recovered from a Himalayan mountain last week. A team of rescuers led by Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal “Nimsdai” Purja spent several grueling days retrieving the bodies from Mount Shishapangma, a mountain in the Chinese region of Tibet that rises to 26,335 feet.

Anna Gutu, 33, and her guide Mingmar Sherpa, 27, were buried in an avalanche on Shishapangma 7 months ago on Oct. 7. It took 3 days and nights for a team of nine climbers led by Nimsdai to complete the mission. Of those involved, three got sick, two needed supplementary oxygen, and a sixth was sent to Mount Everest on another mission.

“Manpower was limited, and the mission nearly failed,” wrote Nimsdai, an accomplished mountaineer. “I have never felt this level of exhaustion.”

The bodies of Gutu and Mingmar Sherpa were brought to Kathmandu on Saturday. Meanwhile, another pair of climbers who died on the mountain that day are still somewhere on its slopes, waiting to be returned home to their families.

Setback for Recovery of Harila’s Partner

The Oct. 7 avalanche on Shishapangma ended the lives — and ambitions — of two climbing teams.

Gutu was trying to become the first American woman to climb all 14 mountains over 8,000 m. Though she had no previous experience in the Himalayas, Gutu had summited 14 in 6 months. Only Shishapangma was left.

By coincidence, another American climber, Gina Marie Rzucidlo, was on the exact same mission, with only the Shishapangma summit left to go. But Rzucidlo happened to have Tenjen Sherpa as her partner. Tenjen had achieved international fame for breaking a new record for the fastest ascent of the world’s 14 highest peaks with Norwegian climber Kristin Harila. 

The two teams died in separate avalanches on the same day. Then in January, Harila announced her intention to bring back the bodies of Tenjen and Rzucidlo. However, she did not receive permission from the Chinese government and must now restart efforts later this year.

“I am so disappointed and feel totally empty in this situation,” Harila wrote on Instagram last week. “It feels like everything in my life is on hold, at least until we have tried to find them. We need a closure. But unfortunately, not now, not this time.”

Nimsdai had obtained permission from the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association to go to Shishapangma to fetch the bodies. China had closed the mountain to all other foreign groups this spring, ExplorersWeb reported.

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