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Missing German climber Stitzinger found dead in Himalayas

The body of Bavarian mountaineer and extreme skier Luis Stitzinger was discovered high on Mount Kangchenjunga on Tuesday, after the 54-year-old went missing on May 25.

Search efforts had been limited in recent days because bad weather conditions made aerial reconnaissance unsafe.

The climber’s body was discovered more than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level, not far below the 8,586 meter summit.

Local media including English-language paper The Himalayan Times first reported that Stitzinger’s body had been found, citing local sherpas. Nepalese mountaineer and government official Khimlal Gautam later confirmed the news to the DPA news agency.

Stitzinger, one of Germany’s most prolific mountaineers, had reached the summit without oxygen and without assistance from local guides before he went missing. There he had conversed with a series of other climbers before starting his solo descent.

According to the data on Stitzinger’s own website, goclimbamountain.de, it was the first time that Stitzinger — who had previously conquered Everest and the second highest mountain on Earth, K2 in Pakistan — had scaled the world’s third-highest peak, which straddles the Indian and Nepalese border in the Himalayas.

Alix von Melle und Luis Stitzinger pose for a photo in a cold-weather chamber used for training for high-altitude climbing
Stitzinger and his wife, Alix von Melle, have jointly written a book about mountain climbingImage: HRSchulz/IMAGO

An ‘experienced’ and ‘cautious’ mountaineer, and big mountain skier

Stitzinger grew up in the Bavarian Alps. He worked as a professional mountain guide and expedition leader and was particularly well known for his love of “Big Mountain Skiing” — coming down a large mountain (or part of it) the fast way after scaling it on foot.

The circumstances of his death are not clear, but local newspaper The Himalayan Times cited sources as saying Stitzinger had hoped to descend on skis if conditions permitted.

Nevertheless, Stitzinger’s colleagues had told German media in recent days that he had a reputation as a “cautious and expert climber”.

“He’s known in our circles as a likeable and friendly mountain expert,” Michael Stange, a mountain guide working at the Summit Club, the travel segment of the German mountain climbers’ federation, said of Stitzinger, who worked with the group for years.

Stizinger’s wife, Alix von Melle, is also a mountain climber. The couple would go on some expeditions together and others separately.

They jointly authored a book in German whose title roughly translates as: “A Passion for life: Together on the highest mountains on Earth.”

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