Mon, Jul 24, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Star Venezuelan climber buried on Pakistani peak


Search teams found the body of a Venezuelan mountain climber and buried him on a snowcapped peak known as "Killer Mountain" in Pakistan, nearly a week after he went missing while scaling the world's ninth highest mountain, officials said.

Jose Antonio Delgado's body was found by a six-member team of Pakistani mountaineers with help from the Pakistan army on 8,125m Nanga Parbat, said Manzoor Hussain, a spokesman for the national Mountaineering and Climbing Federation.

"We found Delgado's body today at 12:30pm at a height of 7,500 meters," he told reporters on Saturday, adding that they immediately informed the man's family, which agreed that he be buried on Nanga Parbat.

"Our team collected his belongings for his family. We have buried him where he was found," Hussain said.

Hussain's comments came after Venezuelan Information Minister Willian Lara confirmed Delgado's death and expressed his condolences.

Delgado, one of the top mountain climbers of Latin America, was found out in the open and just 400m from a tent thought to be his, according to his expedition's Web site. Though the mountain's name translates as "Naked Mountain" in Pakistan's Urdu language, it is more widely known as "Killer Mountain" because of the many climbers who have died on its slopes.

The summit was first conquered by German mountaineer Herman Buhl in 1953 after 31 people died attempting to scale it.

Delgado, 41, had already reached the peak's summit on July 12, but was lost during the descent in a snowstorm.

Others managed to make it down, and a Japanese team at base camp used satellite phones to report that he was stranded on the peak that night.

Climbers at the base camp later spotted Delgado through a telescope at a high-altitude camp, but bad weather prevented rescue teams and a helicopter from trying to reach him immediately.

Last Sunday, after being without food or water for two days, Delgado radioed to others that he planned to hike down to a lower elevation camp on his own. That was his last conversation with the base camp, though climbers also received what seemed to be a communication attempt from him on Thursday, according to his expedition's Web site.

A Pakistani air force helicopter participated in the search, along with a six-member rescue team on the ground. The precise cause of Delgado's death was not immediately clear.

Delgado was renowned as the first Venezuelan to reach the summits of five mountains higher than 8,000m, including Mount Everest.

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