Mummified remains discovered on a mountain in the Andes have been identified as a female climber who disappeared 41 years ago.
Marta Emilia Altamirano, better known as Patty, died aged 20 during an expedition in the Andes in March 1981.
The young woman slipped on ice at an altitude of around 5,000 metres and fell hundreds of metres to her death, according to the sister who accompanied her.
At least four expeditions have taken place over the years to find the young woman’s body, however, without any success.
Over the years, the search was dropped and her disappearance became a legend in the mountain village of Barreal in Argentina’s San Juan province, Jam Press reports.
On 28 January, a body was found on the Cerro Mercedario, the highest peak of the Cordillera de la Ramada range and the eighth-highest mountain in the Andes.
It was discovered at an altitude of around 5,000 metres and it was soon confirmed that the mummified remains belonged to a woman aged between 18 and 30 years.
The climber’s body was found attached to a glacier and the authorities had to break the ice to extract it.
According to a news report at the time, Patty embarked on the fateful expedition with her sister Corina and experienced climber, Sergio Bossini on 23 March 1981 from Barreal.
They embarked on their ascent to the summit on 27 March and stopped to set up camp at an altitude of over 5,000 metres at around 7pm.
Patty went off to survey the surrounding area alone and lost her footing, sliding hundreds of metres down an icy slope.
Corina and Sergio searched for her throughout the night, but to no avail. They managed to find her the following morning, but Patty had already passed away.
Due to the weather conditions and difficult terrain, the pair decided they would not be able to bring her body back with them, so they left to ask for help. Corina and Sergio arrived at the nearest gendarmerie post on 29 March to report the tragedy.
However, snow and ice had buried Patty’s body in the time it took the authorities to assemble a search team and they were unable to find her.
Another search operation was organised the following year, but again with no luck.
In the subsequent years, at least two other unsuccessful search operations were carried out to find Patty’s remains.
The authorities announced that the recently-found body was indeed Patty (7 February). Her four siblings travelled to the area on 2 February and confirmed that they recognised the victim’s clothes and belongings as Patty’s.
Days later, DNA results also confirmed that the mummified body was the young woman who fell to her death nearly 42 years ago.
Patty’s sister Corina Altamirano said: “The four of us were able to find out it’s her. “It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to know this with certainty. We now feel a kind of deep peace.”
The family said Patty’s remains will be taken to Tucumán so other relatives can say goodbye before cremating her. They then plan to sprinkle Patty’s ashes on the mountain she died on as “that was her wish”.