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Body Found

August 28 2004 at 1:07 PM
roger  (Login dipper)

Response to Hope Dims For Palo Alto Woman Missing on Iran's Highest Peak Mount Damavand

Searchers found the body Thursday morning of Kathleen Namphy, a breast cancer survivor and honored Stanford University lecturer last seen Sunday near the summit of Iran's tallest mountain.
But the location of Namphy's body, a few thousand feet down the mountain from where she was last seen alive, has only deepened the mystery of her death.
The only people who could explain how she got there - a group of Iranian hikers who promised to stay with the 69-year-old after she fell and struck her head - are nowhere to be found.
Namphy and two other Americans had set out Sunday morning for the 18,600-foot peak of Mt. Damavand. Accompanied by two guides and an interpreter, they hiked a trail up the mountain's northeast face, and it was there that the fall occurred.
But Cyrus Etemadi, the Iranian travel agency director who arranged the hike, said Namphy's body was found on the north face, considered the most challenging route up the mountain. Rescuers found the body, badly frostbitten, not too far off the trail, he said.
Namphy, who traveled widely, lived for a time in Iran as a young woman and climbed Damavand then. She arranged this trip to Iran in a break between trips to Iraq, where for the last few years she has volunteered as a human rights observer for a Chicago-based non-profit.
Namphy and the others in her group left for the final section of the Damavand climb at 5 a.m. local time Sunday. "Kathleen was loving every minute of it," said Aryn Baker, one of the Americans with Namphy. "She was so happy to be back."
But she soon fell behind the other two, who were far more experienced climbers and younger by decades.
Namphy and her interpreter reached the summit around 5 p.m. local time, long after the other Americans had turned back due to threatening weather. The interpreter, Mehrdad Etemadi, said Namphy was delighted to have reached the top and collected rocks for friends.
"She was very happy," said Etemadi. "We hugged each other."
About 300 feet back down the trail, she fell. Etemadi, who has a decade of experience on Damavand, didn't see exactly what happened because Namphy was behind him. But they were walking through a jumbled field of rocks, and she crashed into him as she fell. Her head was bleeding, Etemadi said, and for a minute or two she couldn't talk.

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