Mount Shishapangma was the last mountain these mountaineers would finish climbing when a tragedy took their lives. Gina Marie Rzucidlo and Anna Gutu were competing to become the first woman to have climbed the 14 peaks in the world. It was only a matter of time that would prove either of them the first to do so. Shishapangma in China’s Tibetan Autonomous region was the last mountain they sought to conquer. The avalanche that led to one of them dying and the other missing was unforeseen by either of them, including their Sherpas.
On Saturday afternoon, October 7, 2023, Anna Gutu and Gina Marie were on the mountain with their respective guides, Mingmar Sherpa and Tenjen Sherpa. The Sherpas had been adequately trained and had several accomplishments to their names. However, the natural, disastrous nature of the mountain was way stronger than their will to survive or their capabilities as a mountaineer. Though Gina Marie or Tenjen Sherpa is yet declared dead, her counterpart Anna Gutu and her guide Mingmar Sherpa’s bodies were retrieved from Shishapangma soon after the avalanche.
What happened to Gina Marie and Anna Gutu?
Gina Marie and Anna Gutu were two competing mountaineers whose only goal was to become the first woman to climb all fourteen peaks in the world. The goal seemed achievable, and they were very close to getting to it once they had summited Shishapangma in China. Sadly, an avalanche took one of their lives. Gina Marie went missing with her guide, Tenjen Lama Sherpa. As per the evidence, both the American climbers and their guides had reached 7,800m.
Gutu and her guide Mingma were struck by the avalanche around 11 a.m. This was strong enough to kill both of them. A representative from Guru’s expedition leaders, Elite Exped, Mingma David Sherpa, revealed the news to CBS News soon after their bodies were out of the mountain. Again, around 1 p.m. the same day, the avalanche hit Tenjen and Gina, pushing to make it to the top, along with another climber, Kami Rita Sherpa. The trekkers in the latter chose a slightly different route, delaying the avalanche attack.
Tenjen Sherpa, the guide of Gina Marie, and his records
Tenjen (Lama) Sherpa was an accomplished mountain guide. He had surpassed the unbreakable record of Nirmal Purja in climbing the most extravagant fourteen peaks of the world in only 92 days, whereas Purja took 189 days to do the task. Tenjen was able to complete this goal alongside another mountaineer, Kristin Harila.
Sherpa has been a popular name among the mountaineering community due to his skills and successful ascents throughout his career as a mountain guide.
Is American mountaineer Gina Marie alive?
There is no evidence as to whether Marie is alive or not. Her body has not been found yet. And the avalanche in Shishapangma was bad enough to kill the mountaineer and her Tenjen Sherpa. Three days after the incident, rescue teams are still looking for their traces in the mountain, but to no avail. Gina Marie’s sister made a heartfelt post on Facebook on Sunday, October 8, 2023, “still praying for a miracle”.
A family friend, Julie Church, made sure to start a GoFundMe for the rescue of Gina. She mentioned in the fundraiser that the victim was on her way to “become the first American woman to climb the world’s 14 peaks above 8,000 meters.” Julie adds, “Gina was a skilled climber and mountaineer, but above all, she was a beloved daughter, sister, and aunt,”
Nepali mountaineering company Seven Summit Treks posted on X, “Our hearts were heavy as we received news of Tenjen Sherpa (Lama), who went missing on Mt. ShishaPangma on October 7, 2023. Lama’s indomitable spirit has always inspired us with his dedication and kindness. His mountaineering legacy will forever shine brightly, and his memory will be etched in our hearts. Our prayers go out to Lama and his family and those who went missing and perished on Shisha Pangma,” on Monday. Tenjen was announced dead on Monday, October 9, 2023.
Anna Gutu, on the other hand, had celebrated her climb to Cho Oyu only a few months ago. As per her Instagram, she was extremely excited to announce the probability of a book or a sequel of her journey along the world’s fourteen peaks once she was done climbing Mount Shishapangma.
As for the know-how of Marie, the search and hopes continue.