BUENOS AIRES – A mummified body discovered on the slopes of El Rincon mountain appears to be that of a Spanish climber who disappeared 29 years ago while trying to reach the summit, Argentine authorities told EFE on Friday.
“Everything indicates” that the body is that of Mateo Parrilla, the public safety ministry in the western province of Mendoza said.
Identification documents in the name of the Valencia native were found on the body and records show that Parrilla is the only climber to have gone missing on El Rincon in the last 30 years.
Mateo Parrilla, 35, disappeared on Jan. 18, 1990, while scaling El Rincon, an Andean peak that rises 5,315m (17,438ft) over the town of Potrerillos.
The Spaniard tackled the climb solo.
Authorities spent five days searching for Parrilla without success.
Last Sunday, a hiker spotted a body and notified authorities.
The body extracted from a small patch of glacier was “totally mummified.”
Medical examiners are working to definitively identify the remains.
El Rincon is part of Cordon del Plata provincial park, a protected area popular with hikers and “trekkers.”
Argentine officials shared the news of the find with the Spanish Consulate, but the consular staff declined EFE’s request for more information, citing Spain’s data-privacy law.
The recovery team took more than 12 hours to reach the location of the body, at an altitude of 4,500m, rescue patrol chief Alejandro Alonso told Argentine newspaper Diario Los Andes.
They extracted the body from a sheet of ice, he said.
“The climber perished with his backpack on, Alonso said, suggesting that death was instantaneous.
Alonso said the patrol members agreed that the climber must have lost his balance and fallen while crossing the ice while heading toward or returning from the summit, suffering a blow that either killed him outright or left him incapacitated.
“At that altitude, bodies become mummies, you don’t see the skeleton, as it’s often depicted in movies,” he said.