Mummified body of missing American mountaineer found after 22 years in Peru

William Stampfl’s body, clothes, and passport found preserved in snow on Huascaran mountain

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Tuesday 09 July 2024 07:18
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FILE: Mummified bodies found

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The mummified remains of an American climber have been found 22 years after he went missing while scaling a snowy peak in Peru.

William Stampfl, then 59, went missing in June 2002 after an avalanche on the 22,000ft-high Huascaran mountain in the Yungay Province buried his climbing party.

Stampfl’s body, clothes, climbing gear and passport were all found preserved by the cold. The mummified documents allowed police to identify his body.

Peruvian police told the AFP that the body emerged after ice on the Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes melted.

Peru has lost more than half of its glacier surface in the last six decades and 175 glaciers have disappeared entirely due to the climate crisis between 2016 and 2020, scientists from a state agency studying glaciers found.

The World Meteorological Organisation said last year that the previous decade was the hottest on record, leading to polar and mountain ice melting and sea levels rising faster than in the 20th century. Glaciers have thinned by an “unprecedented” one metre a year while the Antarctic continental ice sheet lost nearly 75 per cent more ice between 2011 and 2020 than it did between 2001 and 2010, it said.

The increase in average global temperatures has accelerated the retreat of glaciers, especially in the tropics, Jesus Gomez, director of glacier research at Inaigem, told the Associated Press.

Stampfl’s is the second mummified body to be found in the Andes.

The remains of a woman mountaineer who disappeared in the mighty mountain range 41 years ago was found last year.

Marta Emilia Altamirano, better known as Patty, died during an expedition in March 1981.

The 20-year-old slipped on ice at an altitude of about 5,000m and fell hundreds of metres to her death, according to her sister who accompanied her.

Her body was found attached to a glacier and authorities had to break the ice to extract it.

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