Mummified American climber found in Peru after 22 years as glaciers melt

Mummified American climber found in Peru after 22 years as glaciers melt


Peruvian mountain police and mountain rescue workers gather around the remains of American climber William Stampfl, who went missing in 2002 and is suspected to have died in an avalanche in Huascaran, this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters July 9, 2024.

Peruvian mountain police and mountain rescue workers gather around the remains of American climber William Stampfl, who went missing in 2002 and is suspected to have died in an avalanche in Huascaran, in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters July 9, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Peruvian police and mountain rescue workers have recovered the body of an American climber who went missing in 2002, as glaciers continue to melt on Peru's highest mountain and surrounding area.

The mummified, skeletal corpse still has well-preserved climbing boots, crampons and clothing, as well as William Stampfl's driving license and passport. It is suspected that Stampfl died in an avalanche more than 20 years ago.

This photo distributed by the Peruvian National Police shows the remains of William Stampfl, an American climber, on Huascaran Mountain in Huaraz, Peru, July 5, 2024. Peruvian authorities announced Tuesday, July 9, 2024, that they had found the mummified body of the American man who died 22 years ago along with two other American climbers when all three were caught in an avalanche while trying to climb Peru's tallest mountain.

This photo distributed by Peru's National Police shows the remains of American climber William Stampfl on Huascaran Mountain in Huaraz, Peru, July 5, 2024. Peruvian authorities announced Tuesday, July 9, 2024, that they had found the mummified body of the American man who died 22 years ago along with two other American climbers when all three were caught in an avalanche while trying to climb Peru's tallest mountain. | Photo credit: AP

In a statement, police said they recovered his body on July 5 at an altitude of 5,200 metres (17,060.37 feet), well below Huascaran's 6,768-metre peak.

Edson Ramírez, park ranger and risk assessor at Huascarán National Park, explained that the glacial mass in the area has been retreating for the past 10 years. “What was buried years ago is now coming to the surface.”

Peru has an estimated 68% of the world's tropical glaciers, making it one of the most vulnerable ice packs on a warming planet. A November report from the Peruvian government shows the country has lost 56% of its tropical glaciers over the past six decades.

Many of these glaciers are located in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, where Huascaran and other iconic mountains attract thousands of climbers annually.


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