Avalanches have struck the slopes of the Tibetan mountain Shishapangma as more than 50 climbers were making a push for the summit, killing two American female climbers and their two sherpas.
Anna Gutu and Gina Marie Rzucidlo were climbing separately with their sherpas, aiming to become the first American women to scale all 8,000-meter peaks
Anna Gutu was the first declared dead, when two avalanches hit its slopes at elevations of 7,600m and 8,000m, killing the American climber along with her guide Mingmar Sherpa.
American climber Gina Marie Rzucidlo and her Nepalese guide Tenjen Sherpa were reported missing at the time but her family soon released the news that they had passed.
“The Rzucidlo family wants to share that Chinese authorities have declared my sister Gina and her Sherpa Tenjen Lama as deceased,” Christy Rzucidlo, sister of Rzucidlo, said in a post on Facebook.
She added that “China has halted all activity on Mount Shishapangma due to unsafe snow conditions and has closed the mountain for the season”.
Requests for search by helicopter from Nepal have been declined by the Chinese government, the sister claimed in the post. “We have been told the search for their bodies may resume in the spring once weather conditions are favourable.”
A total of 52 climbers, including those from the United States, Britain, Romania, Albania, Italy, Japan and Pakistan, were pushing for the summit when the avalanches hit, China’s Xinhua news agency reported. It seriously injured Nepalese mountain guide Karma Geljen Sherpa, who was escorted down the mountain by rescuers and is currently in stable condition.
Tributes quickly surfaced on Social Media for all four fallen climbers.