Anna Gutu was an American mountaineer who was in a close race with a fellow mountaineer Gina Marie to make history in the mountaineering world as the first American woman mountaineer to complete all the 14-peak expeditions.
She lost her life ascending the last peak of the 14-peak expedition, Mt. Shishapangma at an altitude of 8,027 meters (26,335 feet). The American mountaineer just had completed her expedition to Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu before setting out to scale the Shishapangma.
The rescue operation initiated by the Imagine Trek recovered the body of Anna and her mountain climbing guide Mingmar Sherpa after the avalanche hit the high slopes of Mt. Shishapangma on 7th October 2023.
Young American Mountaineer With Big Ambition
The American mountaineer who was in a close race to engrave her name in mountaineering history as the first-ever American woman to summit all 14- highest peaks in the world was just 32 years old during her unfortunate demise on Mt. Shishapangma.
Born in the Odesa region of Ukraine but later moved to the United States, she was in a tough competition to scale all 14- highest snow-clad peaks with fellow American mountaineer Gina Marie Rzucidlo.
During the scaling of Mt. Shishapangma, the expedition team of both climbers pushing for the summit was hit by a devastating avalanche at an altitude above 7,800 meters. According to eyewitnesses, the avalanches hit the main climbing route on the mountain times before completely wiping it out.
The rescue operation that was immediately initiated was able to recover the bodies of Anna Gutu and her climbing guide Mingmar Sherpa. However, the expedition team of Gina Marie Rzucidlo and her mountain guide Tenjen Lama Sherpa went missing after the incident and are reported dead now.
Tenjen Lama was the popular record-holding Sherpa mountain guide who climbed all the 14 highest peaks in the world along with the Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila within 92 days.
The avalanche on Mt Shishapangma also injured other members of the expedition teams like Kami Rita Sherpa, Karma Gyalzen Sherpa, and Mitra Bahadur Tamang, who were rescued by the rescue team.
Part of 52 Climbers Pushing for the Summit of Shishapangma
According to the Chinese state media outlet, Xinhua News Agency, the American mountaineers, Anna Gutu and Gina Marie Rzucidlo were part of the 52 climbers group who were aiming to reach the top of Shishapangma.
This diverse mountaineering climbing group belonged to several nations like the United States, Italy, Japan, Romania, Britain, Albania, and Pakistan according to the report shared by Xinhua News.
After the avalanche, the mountaineers were reported to be missing on Saturday, and the rescue team was able to retrieve the bodies of Anna and Mingmar from the snow on Sunday and confirmed their deaths.
Anna Gutu was an accomplished mountaineer who was trying to make the record climbing with the Elite Exped, the mountaineering company established by the previous fastest 14-peak challenge record holder Nirmal Purja a.k.a Nimsdai.
The American mountaineer had just completed her 13th peak scaling of Mt. Cho Oyu on the 2nd of October 2023. The successful completion of this final peak on the ‘14-Peak Challenge’ would have concluded her long mountaineering journey for the challenge.
However, the avalanche near the summit wiped out the entire main climbing route on the mountain where both Anna and Gina were pushing for the summit. As Mt. Shishapangma represented the final peak in both of their respective journey to conquer all the 14- peaks, there was fierce competition on the slope.
By the time Anna Gutu began her scaling the mountain with the Elite Expedition crew, Gina Marie Rzucidlo was already at the High Camp on the mountain.
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This Autumn Climbing Season at More Risk?
There are generally two ideal climbing seasons for mountain expeditions, spring (March, April, and May) and autumn (September, October, and November). Both of these seasons are also considered the peak seasons with the most stable weather conditions with appropriate temperatures.
For the autumn climbing season, October is the top choice among the other months as it is farther from both occasional post-monsoon rainfall and pre-winter light snowfall. However, experts have become worried as the avalanches have become more frequent due to climate change.
According to the data, more than 120 deaths have occurred on the Indian side of the Himalayan in just the past two years due to avalanches. Mt. Shishapangma which is at an elevation of 8,027 meters is considered to be one of the easiest expeditions among all other mountains in the ‘14-Peak Challenge’’.
Despite, its low-tier scaling difficulty compared to other highest peaks in the world, the risks of avalanches are pretty high on this mountain. According to the reports, the devastating avalanches struck an altitude of over 8,000 meters as well as slopes near 7,800 meters wiping away the main climbing route from both elevation points.
Until further notice, the scaling activities on Mt. Shishapangma have been suspended due to the snow conditions.