Shishapangma Tragedy: In a heart-wrenching turn of events, a series of avalanches struck the Shishapangma mountain in the Himalayas past Saturday, resulting in the tragic deaths of Anna Gutu and her supporting guide, Migmar Sherpa. At the same time, the other two Gina Marie Rzucidlo and Tenjen Lama Sherpa remain untraceable. However, Both Gina Marie Rzucidlo and Tenjen Lama Sherpa were declared deceased by the Chinese Authorities on Monday afternoon.
The incident, now known as the “Shishapangma Tragedy,” unfolded as the climbers were on a historic mission to become the first U.S. women to conquer the daunting challenge of all 14 peaks above 8,000 meters. The avalanches occurred at an altitude of 7,800 meters, posing extreme risks to those attempting the ascent.
Tenjen Lama Sherpa, who had recently earned recognition for his role in guiding Kristin Harila during her remarkable three-month speed climb of all the 8,000-meter peaks, had returned to guiding for Seven Summit Treks. He had successfully summited Manaslu and Dhaulagiri earlier this fall, further highlighting the depth of expertise lost in this tragic incident.
Rescue efforts, led by Mingma G and a team of dedicated climbers, managed to recover the lifeless bodies of Anna Gutu and Migmar Sherpa from the avalanche site. However, the whereabouts of Gina Marie Rzucidlo and Tenjen Lama Sherpa remain unknown. Additionally, several other climbers, including Kami Rita Sherpa, Mitra Bahadur Tamang, and Karma Gyalzen Sherpa, sustained injuries during the avalanches and are currently receiving medical attention.
Eyewitnesses reported that “at least two avalanches struck the climbing route when two American women climbers and their guides were positioned above 7,800 meters.” Notably, most Elite Exped and Imagine Nepal climbers had wisely turned back at 7,600 meters, perhaps due to concerns about the perilous conditions. While details surrounding the incident remain scant, Naila Kiani, a Pakistani climber, experienced a halt in her tracker’s movement for over an hour before she too decided to retreat to safety.
Shishapangma Region After Avalanche
The Shishapangma region has been grappling with challenging communication conditions in the aftermath of the avalanches. Climbers and expeditions have reported adverse weather conditions on both sides of the Tibet-Nepal border, including heavy snowfall and subsequent periods of cold and strong winds, significantly elevating the risk of avalanches. This tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the formidable challenges that climbers face in their quest to conquer the world’s highest peaks and the unyielding power of nature in the high-altitude wilderness.