Climber’s body found on Peru’s highest mountain after 22 years

Climbers body found on Perus highest mountain after 22 years
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Police in Peru said Tuesday they have found the body of an American mountaineer who was buried by an avalanche 22 years ago as he tried to climb one of the highest peaks in the Andes with two friends.


The body of William Stampfl was discovered on Friday near a camp 17,060 feet above sea level, police in the Ancash region told The Associated Press. The 58-year-old had been trying to scale Mount Huascaran when the avalanche struck, which presumably killed the three climbers.

Police said Stampfl’s body and clothing had been preserved by the ice and freezing temperatures. His driver’s license was also found inside a hip pouch that had also been preserved by the cold. It says he was a resident of Chino in California’s San Bernardino County.



The effort to retrieve Stampfl’s remains began last week, after an American climber came upon the frozen body while making his way to the Huascaran summit. The climber opened the pouch and read the name on the driver’s license. He called Stampfl’s relatives, who then got in touch with local mountain guides.


A team of 13 mountaineers participated in the recovery operation, including five officers from an elite police unit, and eight mountain guides who work for Grupo Alpamayo, a local tour operator that takes climbers to Huascaran and other peaks in the Andes.

Stampfl’s body was brought down over the weekend and taken to a morgue in the city of Yungay.

This photo distributed by the Peruvian National Police shows police carrying a body that they 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. (Peruvian National Police via AP)

Eric Raul Albino, the director of Grupo Alpamayo, said he was contacted and hired by Stampfl’s family to retrieve the body from the mountain.


“The climber (who first came across Stampfl’s body) opened the hip pouch and noticed there was a drivers license there with his name and address” Albino told The Associated Press. “So he contacted the family and then they contacted me.”

Lenin Alvardo, one of the police officers who participated in the recovery operation, said Stampfl’s clothes were still mostly intact, preserved by the cold. The hip pouch with his driving license also contained a pair of sunglasses, a camera, a voice recorder, and two decomposing $20 bills.

“I’ve never seen anything like that” Alvarado said.

Huascaran is Peru’s highest peak. Hundreds of climbers visit the mountain each year with local guides, and it typically takes them about a week to reach the summit.

However, climate change has affected Huascaran and the surrounding peaks higher than 5,000 meters, known as the Cordillera Blanca. According to official figures, the Cordillera Blanca has lost 27% of its ice sheet over the past five decades.


Stampfl was with friends Matthew Richardson and Steve Erskine when they attempted the ascent of Huascaran in 2002. They had travelled the world to climb challenging mountains and had summitted Kilimanjaro, Rainier, Shasta and Denali, according to a Los Angeles Times report at the time.


Erskine’s body was found shortly after the avalanche on Huascaran, but Richardson’s is still missing.

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