Markus Kronthaler, the highest altitude body rescue in history
Markus Kronthaler

Markus Kronthaler, an Austrian gendarme and mountaineer, left an indelible mark on the world of mountaineering with his daring expeditions and unwavering commitment to the mountains. Born on April 5, 1967, in Kufstein, Tyrol, Kronthaler’s passion for climbing was evident from an early age. He combined his profession as an officer in Austria’s Gendarmerie with his love for the mountains, eventually transitioning to become a professional climber in 2003.

Kronthaler’s mountaineering career was marked by both triumph and tragedy. In January 2006, he miraculously survived a harrowing free fall of 150 meters into the snow, demonstrating his resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Undeterred by the near-fatal accident, Kronthaler embarked on a new expedition to Chogolisa and Broad Peak in Pakistan just a few months later, in May 2006.

Tragically, Kronthaler’s final ascent of Broad Peak ended in exhaustion and ultimately, his untimely death. Despite reaching the summit on July 8, 2006, he succumbed to the gruelling conditions of the mountain. His body remained on Broad Peak, a poignant reminder of the unforgiving nature of the high-altitude environment he so passionately explored.

In the summer of 2007, an Austrian mountaineering team undertook the arduous task of retrieving Kronthaler’s remains from Broad Peak, marking the highest-ever body recovery from a mountain. His body was brought back to Austria and cremated, and his urn was laid to rest in his hometown of Kufstein, a fitting tribute to a courageous and adventurous spirit.

Throughout his career, Kronthaler undertook numerous expeditions to some of the world’s most formidable peaks, showcasing his skill, determination, and love for the mountains. From the towering heights of Shishapangma in Tibet to the remote reaches of Nanga Parbat in Kashmir, Kronthaler’s expeditions were a testament to his passion for exploration and his unwavering pursuit of adventure.

Though his life was cut short, Markus Kronthaler’s legacy lives on in the annals of mountaineering history. His courage, resilience, and pioneering spirit continue to inspire climbers around the world to push the boundaries of human achievement in pursuit of their mountaineering dreams. As the highest-ever body recovery from a mountain, Kronthaler’s final journey serves as a poignant reminder of the risks and rewards inherent in the pursuit of the world’s tallest peaks.


It was on July 20 when Stefan Lackner and Paul Koller removed the body of Markus Kronthaler from the summit ridge of Broad Peak (8047m), which is located in the Karakoram region of Pakistan and China. That afternoon and the following day, the guides, along with five Pakistani porters, transported the body to Camp 3, even though they were contending with a blizzard. This week, the recovery team will continue the evacuation, which will be the highest-altitude body retrieval in the history of the world. [Photo] Provided by with permission

In the Karakoram region of Pakistan and China, a recovery team is currently in the last stages of extracting the body of Markus Kronthaler from the summit ridge of Broad Peak, which is located at an elevation of 8047 meters. Kronthaler passed away from exhaustion on the descent after successfully reaching the top via the regular route, which begins on the West Spur and climbs through the fore summit along the summit ridge. Kronthaler’s death occurred the previous year. The brother of Markus, Georg Kronthaler, was the one who coordinated and provided funding for the rescue effort. When it comes to expeditions of this nature, the recovery is the highest-altitude one.

As of this past Friday, July 20, Austrian guides Stefan Lackner and Paul Koller, along with cameraman Hubert Rieger and five Pakistani high-altitude porters, climbed over 8000 meters, between the fore summit and the main summit of Broad Peak, to begin the process of retrieving Kronthaler’s body. Until a storm began to develop, they dragged the bodybag through the snow and brought it to the saddle. As they descended to Camp 3, where Georg had remained owing to his illness, they left the body behind the saddle at an altitude of approximately 7,500 meters. The guides climbed up again the following day, this time in a terrible storm, and delivered the body to Camp 3. After that, they descended to basecamp, where Georg had initially descended earlier that morning. Today, July 25, Georg, Lackner, and Koller, along with six Pakistani porters, are climbing to Camp 2 to reach their destination. Overnight, they intend to begin the descent from Camp 3 with the body in their possession.

Sepp Bachmair, who was Markus Kronthaler’s companion on the excursion that took place in 2006, had a tough time assisting him in returning to safety because he, too, was having trouble descending. The two were unable to arrive at their destination before the sun went down. On July 8, around six o’clock in the morning, Kronthaler passed away on the summit ridge as a result of tiredness and dehydration. Even though Bachmair was also suffering from severe ailments, he continued down by himself. At 7800 meters, the Polish climber Piotr Morawski came across him and decided to forgo his attempt to reach the summit to assist Bachmair in returning to Camp 3. Jorge Egocheaga, a Spanish climber and doctor, climbed from basecamp to 7200 meters to treat Bachmair and bring him back down to basecamp, where he was afterwards evacuated by helicopter. Even though he was weary from his rapid ascent of the summit, Jorge Egocheaga climbed to 7200 meters.

After making preparations for the recovery at the tail end of the previous year, Georg made the following remark: “I, too, will climb Broad Peak collectively with a friend.” On the other hand, there is nothing to rejoice about in my rise. At an altitude of 8000 meters, Markus’s bones are lying exposed at a location that is frequented by climbers. Even though I am certain that many people will snap photographs, my family and I are unable to tolerate this. In light of this, my objective on Broad will be to rescue my brother and bring him back to my house, where he will be laid to rest properly. The retrieval of Markus’ body is the first mountain retrieval ever to occur from a height of more than 8000 meters, making it one of the most complex mountain retrievals in history. Furthermore, Georg has communicated that the members of the expedition would not ascend to the peak’s summit, which is located only a few dozen meters away from the base of the peak.

Christine Boskoff, who had been missing since November along with her climbing partner Charlie Fowler, will have her body recovered by a similar recovery team in August. Boskoff’s body was recently discovered on Mount Genyen, which is located in Sichuan Province’s Sichuan Province.

The bodies of climbers have often been left behind on high peaks, and these two expeditions set an interesting precedent for others to follow. It is impossible to overlook the existence of these victims; in many instances, the bodies may be lying on or near to a key route, as had been the case with Markus Kronthaler. Mountaineers who are going to the summits can be put in a difficult position because of the ethical problems that arise around how to treat and honour deceased climbers who have been left on the peaks. In the hopes of bringing about a change in some of these generally accepted practices, Georg Kronthaler is working. “I don’t just want to bring my brother down; I want to change the ethical principles that are used in high-altitude climbing,” she said. remarked Georg. It is not acceptable for us to solely concentrate on our athletic objectives and, as a result, “walk literally over corpses.” A person who has been involved in an accident does not deserve to be abandoned there like garbage.

Expeditions Led by Markus Kronthaler:

  1. 2000: Shishapangma (8013 m), Himalaya, Tibet – Gendarmerie-Mountain Guides-Expedition
  2. 2002: Ama Dablam (6856 m), Himalaya, Nepal
  3. 2004: Muztagata (7546 m), Pamir, China
  4. 2004: Nanga Parbat (8125), Kashmir, Pakistan – “Nanga Parbat – Edelweissexpedition 2004”
  5. 2006: Broad Peak (8047 m) and Chogolisa (7665 m), Karakoram, Pakistan


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