One US climber dead, another missing, after deadly avalanche thwarts race for new 14 peaks record

Mt Shishapangma, Tibet, China
Two were killed in the slide on the world's 14th highest mountain, another two remain missing (Image credit: Reinhard Goldmann)

An American mountaineer hoping to become the first US woman to scale all 14 peaks over 8,000 meters has been killed in an avalanche, along with two Nepalese guides. Anna Gutu, 32, was killed in the slide on Saturday on the Tibetan mountain Shishapangma, with her guide Mingmar Sherpa. Another US climber, Gina Marie Rzucidlo, 45, is still missing, while her guide Tenjen Sherpa has been confirmed dead.

Tenjen recently completed the 14 peaks in just 92 days with Norwegian mountaineer Kristin Harila, outdoing Nirmal Purja's previous record of 189 days. Gutu and Rzucidlo were in a race to complete the 14 peaks and had completed 13 summits in their mission. Gutu most recently climbed Tibet's Cho Oyu on October 2, after which she wrote  on her Instagram page she hoped there would be time to complete, and tell, her tale.

"One step, one peak closer to accomplish all 14 highest mountains on earth.
I don’t think I fully comprehend what has happened for the past 6 months, but I am sure there will be a lot of material to wright (sic) a book or entire sequel."

Shishapangma was to be the final summit for both climbers, but they were caught in a series of two avalanches which hit the slopes at elevations of 7,600 metres and 8,000 metres. There were a total of 52 climbers pushing for the summit when the slides hit, according to Reuters

Shishapangma is the world's 14th tallest peak, and to date there have been 300 successful summits, with a less than 10 percent fatality rate. In comparison, Annapurna has a 30 percent fatality rate amongst those who attempt it, making it the world's deadliest mountain.

October is a popular time for climbing in the Himalayas because the conditions typically grow more stable as monsoon rain eases, however scientists have warned that global warming is raising avalanche risk in high-altitude regions like the Himalayas.

Gutu is reportedly Ukrainian born, but according to her Instagram profile she left home at 16 to travel to Moldova and moved to the US aged 21. Crews are reportedly still searching for Rzucidlo.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.