Two dead, two missing after avalanche hits Tibet’s Mt Shishapangma

Tour operators informed AFP on Sunday that an American mountaineer and her Nepali guide were murdered in an avalanche on Mount Shishapangma in Tibet, southwest China, with two people still missing and one critically hurt.

One of the highest mountains in the world, Mount Shishapangma, is totally contained inside the borders of China and reaches a height of 8,027 meters (26,335 feet) above sea level.

The accident occurred Saturday afternoon “at an altitude of between 7,600 and 8,000 meters”, China’s state news agency Xinhua said, citing the Tibet Sports Bureau, which confirmed the toll.

Mingma AFP was informed by David Sherpa of Elite Exped, the organization in charge of the expedition, that an American mountaineer named Anna Gutu had perished.

“We have received reports that Anna and her guide were hit by the avalanche yesterday, their bodies have been recovered,” he said.

“There are other climbers missing as well and rescue efforts are under way,” he said, adding those efforts were complicated by the fact “helicopters cannot be used” on the mountain due to Chinese restrictions.

Tashi Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks identified the missing American climber as Gina Marie Rzucidlo and her guide as Tenjin “Lama” Sherpa.

“Two avalanches hit the mountain yesterday, impacting several climbers. Some were injured and two, American climber (Gina Marie Rzucidlo) and our guide Tenjin, are missing,” he said.

“Search efforts are underway.”

According to the English-language Nepali publication The Himalayan Times, the two women were competing to be the first American woman to climb all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters.

On Mount Shishapangma, all mountaineering operations have been put on hold, according to Xinhua.

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