BEIJING: An avalanche struck the Tibetan peak of Shishapangma yesterday, killing an American and Nepalese climber, while two others remained missing, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
Shishapangma, standing at just over 8,000m above sea level, is the world’s 14th tallest peak. It is widely regarded as one of the easier mountains of that height, known as among climbers as the “eight-thousanders”.
An initial investigation showed one American and one Nepalese climber were killed, with another American and Nepalese still missing, Xinhua reported today, without identifying the climbers.
A seriously injured Nepalese climber has since been escorted down the mountain by rescuers by Saturday evening.
Chinese state media has yet to describe the scale of the avalanche, which it said took place at an elevation of over 7,600m, or give details on whether there were other climbing parties in the vicinity and if they were affected.
All climbing activities on Shishapangma were suspended as of yesterday.
According to the Nepalese newspaper The Himalayan Times, the two dead were Anna Gutu and her guide Mingmar Sherpa, and the two missing were Gina Marie and her guide Tenjen Sherpa.
Tenjen Sherpa was the guide of Norway’s Kristin Harila when they summitted K2 in Pakistan in July to become the world’s fastest climbers to scale all of the 14 eight-thousanders.
October is a popular month for climbers in the Himalayas due to its traditionally more stable conditions as monsoonal rains ease. However, scientists warn global warming is raising avalanche risks in high-altitude regions including the Himalayas.
Earlier this week, a Chinese expedition set up a series of weather stations on the 8,201m Cho Oyu on Tibet’s border with Nepal to measure the impact of climate change in the Himalayas.