Body of Missing U.S. Climber Discovered 22 Years Later

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The preserved remains of William Stampfl, an American mountaineer who vanished 22 years ago while climbing in Peru, have been discovered as a result of melting glaciers due to climate change, according to police reports on Monday. Stampfl, who was 59 at the time, was reported missing in June 2002 after an avalanche engulfed his climbing group on Mount Huascaran, which rises above 22,000 feet.

Stampfl was climbing with his friends Matthew Richardson and Steve Erskine when the tragedy occurred. While Erskine’s body was recovered shortly after the incident, Richardson remains missing.

Authorities indicated that the thawing ice on the Cordillera Blanca range in the Andes led to the exposure of Stampfl’s remains. His identification was confirmed through personal items found with his body, including his passport and a driver’s license that listed his residence in San Bernardino County, California.

Over the last weekend, his body was transported down the mountain by guides and police officers and was taken to a morgue in the city of Huaraz. The northeastern mountains of Peru, home to peaks like Huascaran and Cashan, are popular among global mountaineering enthusiasts.

There have been similar tragic discoveries in the area. An Israeli hiker’s body was found last May nearly a month after he went missing, and just last month, an experienced Italian mountaineer was found deceased after a fall on another Andean peak.

The occurrence of bodies being discovered as glaciers melt has increased over the years. This phenomenon, widely attributed to global warming, has exposed the remains of hikers, skiers, and climbers who had been missing for decades.

Recently in June, five bodies were recovered from Mount Everest, including skeletal remains, as part of Nepal’s mountain clean-up initiative. Other notable discoveries include the 2017 recovery of multiple hikers’ remains from the 1980s or 1990s on Mont Blanc, and that same year, a couple that disappeared in 1942 was found on a Swiss glacier.

In 2016, an avalanche casualty from 1999 involving a prominent climber and an expedition cameraman was discovered on a Himalayan glacier. A year before, the remains of two Japanese climbers missing since 1970 were found on Switzerland’s Matterhorn, with identities confirmed through DNA testing.

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