NZ-born climber helping family of lost mountaineers determine identity of remains found on K2.

Relatives of an American-New Zealand father and son who died on K2 were horrified after another climber shared a video of human remains on the mountain which they believe could be those of their loved ones.

Sequoia Di Angelo, daughter and sister of Marty and Denali Schmidt, told the Herald from San Francisco she was working to determine the identity of the remains exhibited on Facebook by Swiss climber Mike Horn.

The video was removed after an outcry by Ms Di Angelo, her mother Joanne Schmidt-Patti and relatives of other mountaineers who met their fate on the world's deadliest mountain in northeastern Pakistan.

Although 80 people have died on K2 compared with 302 to have reached its summit since 1954, the Schmidts were the most recent, killed in an avalanche in July 2013.


Ms Di Angelo, 24, is working from the United States with Timaru-born climber Chris Burke, who is in Nepal after completing an expedition up neighbouring Broad Peak, to have the remains DNA-tested so they can get a proper burial.

Ms Burke, who has dual New Zealand and Australian citizenship, last year became the first woman of either nationality to reach K2's 8611-metre summit.

Ms Di Angelo said, while packing up an exhibition of her late brother's paintings which she hopes to bring to New Zealand next year, that the video led to revelations of "multiple body parts" washed almost as far down the mountain as its base camp by a massive avalanche.

Her father and brother are believed to have died in their tent 7400m up the mountain, where Sherpas found an axe and crampons matching what they had been using.

She was scathing of Mr Horn, who she said did not try to bury the remains which he came across last month but noted a number of other climbers photographed remains without telling bereaved families.

"It turns out there were multiple body parts, dismembered body parts, and they have just been left there by the other climbers," she said.

"Mike Horn just took photos and video, posted them to the world, and then left them there to rot."

Mr Horn had last night not replied to a Herald email.

But he said on Facebook it was "not my intent to offend - only to inspire".

"Being accused of being disrespectful towards the dead and their families is, of course, a matter of opinion," he wrote.

"However, I do apologise if I have offended anyone who lost loved ones and do not see life, and death, in the same way I do."

Another online poster scolded Mr Horn for not putting a warning on the video, from which "that twisted face with its mangled jaw haunts me every day".

Ms Sequoia, who lives in Texas but grew up in Hawkes Bay, acknowledged yesterday that the remains could be of a number of people but there was "definitely a good chance" they included those of her father and brother.

She said they were still where they were found, but was confident about arrangements to identify and bury them.

Ms Burke told the Herald she was shocked and horrified by the video.

"Respect, dignity and compassion for the deceased and the deceased's family and friends must be paramount.

"And that definitely does not involve putting graphic images in the public domain."

Auckland mountaineer Graeme Dingle was reluctant to pass judgment.

But he said human remains could take many years to decompose in frozen conditions.

That was evidenced by the discovery high on Mt Everest several years ago of the remains of George Mallory, leader of a British expedition in 1924.


July 28, 2013

Sherpas find evidence of an avalanche having passed through Camp Three, 7400m up the 8611m peak of K2. There is no sign of the bodies of American-New Zealand father and son climbers Marty and Denali Schmidt, but an iceaxe and crampons are found.

July 28, 2015
Explorer Mike Horn reports on his website and social media of an unsuccessful bid to reach the K2 summit, and posts video of human remains, including a head.