American Climber Anna Gutu

The bodies of American climber Anna Gutu, 33, and her Sherpa guide Mingmar Sherpa, 27, were recovered from Mount Shishapangma last week, seven months after they were buried in an avalanche on October 7. Led by Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal “Nimsdai” Purja, a team of nine rescuers faced three grueling days and nights to retrieve the bodies from the 26,335-foot mountain in Tibet. The mission was fraught with challenges: three climbers fell ill, two needed supplementary oxygen, and one was redirected to Mount Everest for another mission.

Nimsdai described the mission as nearly failing due to limited manpower and extreme exhaustion. Despite these hardships, the bodies of Gutu and Mingmar Sherpa were successfully brought to Kathmandu on Saturday. Tragically, another pair of climbers who died on the mountain that day remain on its slopes, awaiting recovery.

Gutu was attempting to become the first American woman to climb all 14 mountains over 8,000 meters. She had already summited 14 peaks in six months, with only Shishapangma left. Coincidentally, another American climber, Gina Marie Rzucidlo, was on the same mission, also with Shishapangma remaining. Rzucidlo’s partner, Tenjen Sherpa, had gained international fame for breaking the record for the fastest ascent of the world’s 14 highest peaks with Norwegian climber Kristin Harila.

Both teams perished in separate avalanches on the same day. In January, Harila announced plans to retrieve the bodies of Tenjen and Rzucidlo but was denied permission by the Chinese government. She expressed her disappointment and frustration on Instagram, stating that her life feels on hold until they can attempt the recovery again.

Nimsdai secured permission from the China-Tibet Mountaineering Association for the retrieval mission. This spring, China closed Shishapangma to all other foreign groups, as reported by ExplorersWeb.

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