Mummified American climber found 22 years later in Peru as glaciers retreat

The police recovered the body on July 5 at an altitude of 5,200 meters, well below Huascaran's 6,768-meter summit

Updated - July 10, 2024 02:15 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 01:37 pm IST

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 picture received 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 picture received by Reuters July 9, 2024. | Photo Credit: Reuters

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

The mummified, skeletal corpse still had well-preserved climbing boots, crampons and clothing, as well as a driver's license and passport belonging to William Stampfl. Stampfl is suspected to have died in an avalanche more than 20 years ago.

This photo distributed by the Peruvian National Police shows the remains of who police identify as U.S. mountain climber William Stampfl, on Huascaran mountain in Huaraz, Peru, July 5, 2024. Peruvian authorities announced on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, that they have found the mummified body of the American man who died 22 years ago, along with two other American climbers, after the three were trapped in an avalanche while trying to climb Peru’s highest mountain.

This photo distributed by the Peruvian National Police shows the remains of who police identify as U.S. mountain climber William Stampfl, on Huascaran mountain in Huaraz, Peru, July 5, 2024. Peruvian authorities announced on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, that they have found the mummified body of the American man who died 22 years ago, along with two other American climbers, after the three were trapped in an avalanche while trying to climb Peru’s highest mountain. | Photo Credit: AP

In a statement, police say they recovered his body on July 5 at an altitude of 5,200 meters (17,060.37 ft), well below Huascaran's 6,768-meter summit.

Glacial mass in the region has been retreating for about the last 10 years, said Edson Ramirez, a park ranger and risk assessor for the Huascaran National Park. "What was buried years ago is coming to the surface."

Peru has an estimated 68% of the world's tropical glaciers, which are among the most vulnerable ice packs in a warming planet. A November report by Peru's government shows the country has lost 56% of its tropical glaciers in the last six decades.

Many of those glaciers lie in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, where the Huascaran and other iconic mountains draw thousands of climbers a year.

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