American Climber Found Frozen In Ice After 22 Years Missing

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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The frozen body of an American climber who went missing in Peru in 2002 was recently found, police said Monday.

William Stampfl went missing during a climbing trip to South America in June 2002 at the age of 59, according to CBS. He was scaling a peak along the 22,000-foot-tall Huascaran mountain when an avalanche buried him and his climbing party. Despite search and rescue efforts, Stampfl’s body was never recovered.

Recent snowmelt along the Cordillera Blanca range within the Peruvian Andes exposed Stampfl’s resting place. His body, clothes, and climbing gear such as his harness and boots, were well preserved within the ice. His passport was also found within his possessions.

The brutality of climbing in the Peruvian Andes is well-known to climbers. It’s best chronicled in the book “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson. Simpson plunged over the vertical face of an ice ledge, breaking his leg, while climbing with his friend Simon Yates.

Knowing that they’d both die if he didn’t move fast, Yates was forced to cut the rope, letting Simpson fall into the darkness. What happened next is so powerful that I try to read this book at least once a year. It’ll really show you how small your problems are. (RELATED: Video Shows Huge Avalanche That Reportedly Killed 6 People In France)

Finding bodies frozen in time is not uncommon on Earth’s greatest peaks, either. In 1999, a team of researchers claimed they finally found the body of George Mallory, one of the first men who may have reached the summit of Mount Everest, well before Edmund Hillary. In reality, Mallory’s body was identified in 1936 by climber Frank Smythe, according to the Guardian.

But it just goes to show how complicated and life-threatening these environments truly are.