Body of American climber found mummified in ice 22 years after he vanished

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By stefan armitage

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The mummified remains of American mountaineer William Stampfl have been uncovered - 22 years after he vanished.

GettyImages-965729622.jpgWilliam Stampfl was reported missing in June 2002. Credit: Bruno PEROUSSE / Getty

Peruvian authorities made the startling discovery in the high Andes mountains, where a climbing expedition on Huascaran - a towering peak exceeding 22,000 feet in elevation - discovered Stampfl's remains.

Stampfl, aged 59 at the time of his disappearance in June 2002, was part of a climbing party engulfed by an avalanche while navigating Huascaran, located in the Cordillera Blanca range, CBS News reports.

Despite initial search efforts, his fate remained a mystery until recently, when melting ice due to climate change revealed his remarkably preserved body, along with his clothing, climbing equipment, and even his passport, facilitating his identification by authorities, per The Independent.


Back in 2002, The Los Angeles Times reported that Stampfl was accompanied by friends Steve Erskine and Matthew Richardson during a 19-day round trip when they were claimed by the avalanche.

Stampfl - a self-employed civil engineer born in Austria - had a "running joke" with his wife that he would always carry a bag of small origami turtles with him on his climbs. "Since I couldn’t go, the turtles went instead," his wife, Janet, said at the time.

The revelation of Stampfl's remains underscores a broader trend driven by global warming: as glaciers across the world recede at alarming rates, long-lost bodies of hikers, skiers, and climbers are being rediscovered decades after their disappearance.

Peru’s glacier shrinkage, exacerbated by rising global temperatures, has accelerated these discoveries. According to Jesus Gomez - director of glacier research at Inaigem - the average global temperature increase has contributed to unprecedented glacier thinning, particularly affecting tropical regions like the Andes.

As such, Stampfl’s discovery is not an isolated incident. Last year, the remains of Marta Emilia Altamirano, known as Patty, were found attached to a glacier in the Andes -- 41 years after she tragically slipped on ice during a 1981 expedition.

And the tragic trend extends beyond Peru. In recent years, similar discoveries have been made in the Swiss Alps and Himalayas, where melting glaciers have unveiled the remains of climbers missing for decades.

Last month, five frozen bodies were retrieved from Mount Everest, per CBS News. And last year, the body of a German climber who had been missing since 1986 was found on a glacier in the Swiss Alps.

Following the discovery, authorities in Peru are now conducting further investigations into Stampfl's death.

Our thoughts continue to go out to his family at this time.

Featured image credit: Bruno PEROUSSE / Getty

Body of American climber found mummified in ice 22 years after he vanished

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

The mummified remains of American mountaineer William Stampfl have been uncovered - 22 years after he vanished.

GettyImages-965729622.jpgWilliam Stampfl was reported missing in June 2002. Credit: Bruno PEROUSSE / Getty

Peruvian authorities made the startling discovery in the high Andes mountains, where a climbing expedition on Huascaran - a towering peak exceeding 22,000 feet in elevation - discovered Stampfl's remains.

Stampfl, aged 59 at the time of his disappearance in June 2002, was part of a climbing party engulfed by an avalanche while navigating Huascaran, located in the Cordillera Blanca range, CBS News reports.

Despite initial search efforts, his fate remained a mystery until recently, when melting ice due to climate change revealed his remarkably preserved body, along with his clothing, climbing equipment, and even his passport, facilitating his identification by authorities, per The Independent.


Back in 2002, The Los Angeles Times reported that Stampfl was accompanied by friends Steve Erskine and Matthew Richardson during a 19-day round trip when they were claimed by the avalanche.

Stampfl - a self-employed civil engineer born in Austria - had a "running joke" with his wife that he would always carry a bag of small origami turtles with him on his climbs. "Since I couldn’t go, the turtles went instead," his wife, Janet, said at the time.

The revelation of Stampfl's remains underscores a broader trend driven by global warming: as glaciers across the world recede at alarming rates, long-lost bodies of hikers, skiers, and climbers are being rediscovered decades after their disappearance.

Peru’s glacier shrinkage, exacerbated by rising global temperatures, has accelerated these discoveries. According to Jesus Gomez - director of glacier research at Inaigem - the average global temperature increase has contributed to unprecedented glacier thinning, particularly affecting tropical regions like the Andes.

As such, Stampfl’s discovery is not an isolated incident. Last year, the remains of Marta Emilia Altamirano, known as Patty, were found attached to a glacier in the Andes -- 41 years after she tragically slipped on ice during a 1981 expedition.

And the tragic trend extends beyond Peru. In recent years, similar discoveries have been made in the Swiss Alps and Himalayas, where melting glaciers have unveiled the remains of climbers missing for decades.

Last month, five frozen bodies were retrieved from Mount Everest, per CBS News. And last year, the body of a German climber who had been missing since 1986 was found on a glacier in the Swiss Alps.

Following the discovery, authorities in Peru are now conducting further investigations into Stampfl's death.

Our thoughts continue to go out to his family at this time.

Featured image credit: Bruno PEROUSSE / Getty