Sad news from the eight-thousander Shishapangma: According to the newspaper “The Himalayan Times”, the American climber Anna Gutu and her Nepalese guide Mingmar Sherpa died today in an avalanche accident on the 8,027-meter-high mountain in Tibet. Gina Marie Rzucidlo, also from the U.S. and her Nepalese mountain guide Tenjen “Lama” Sherpa were reported missing. Apparently there is little hope of recovering the two missing alive.
Naila Kiani and Sirbaz Khan, both from Pakistan, who were also on the mountain and eyewitnessed the disaster, spoke of four dead. They abandoned their summit attempt and descended back to Camp 1. They were “very shaken and distressed” after witnessing how the avalanche swept their friends to their deaths, they let it be known via Instagram. Apparently, two avalanches had gone off at an altitude of around 7,800 meters. The four climbers ascending on the normal route had been caught by the snow masses.
The 33-year-old Anna Gutu, a Ukrainian-born U.S. citizen, had scaled 13 eight-thousanders in the past six months as a client of expedition operator Elite Exped – with bottled oxygen and Sherpa support. Only Shishapangma was still missing to complete her collection of eight-thousanders as the first woman from the USA.
The same goes for her missing compatriot Gina Marie Rzucidlo. The 45-year-old from New York had reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2018 – also with a breathing mask and Sherpa support – and subsequently started to climb the other eight-thousanders as a client of commercial expeditions.
Her mountain guide Tenjen Sherpa, in the service of the operator Seven Summit Treks (SST), had already made headlines worldwide this year when he had led the Norwegian Kristin Harila up all 14 eight-thousanders in just 92 days. According to SST, he has stood on eight-thousander summits a total of 29 times since 2016.
Update 8 October: According to the Himalayan Times, three more Sherpas were injured in the avalanche accident: Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Kami Rita Sherpa and Karma Gyalzen Sherma. Mingma Gyalje is the head of the operator Imagine Nepal. Shishapangma would have been his 14th eight-thousander without bottled oxygen if he had been successful. The three injured are brought back to the base camp.