Dead mountaineer’s camera found in receding glacier
An old 35mm film camera has been found in a receding glacier on the mountain of Aconcagua. The Nikomat camera reportedly belonged to a woman who died in suspicious circumstances during the climb.
American mountaineer Janet Johnson set out with a group to climb the Argentinian mountain in 1973. However, along with a fellow companion, Johnson never made it home.
The camera still contained the roll of film inside, and it was handed into the New York Times. The Times sent the film to Film Rescue International, a specialist lab that rescues old films. The 24-exposure roll of film was developed, and according to a report in The Times, appears to suggest that the story of Johnson’s death does not add up.
As PetaPixel says, the images on the roll of film appear to show the work of an amateur yet competent photographer. Someone who is able to make good exposures using film. The images show spectacular mountain scenery, with the Times noting that “she still knew how to focus the lens, compose the frame, and hold the camera steady to take clear photographs.”
Statements taken from the group after Johnson’s death suggest that she was experiencing delirium as a result of the high altitude. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas, and oxygen deprivation is a significant peril to mountaineers. However, Johnson was an experienced climber.
Injuries not self-inflicted
Two years after Johnson’s trip, mountaineers found her body (and that of her companion, NASA engineer John Coope). The bodies showed significant injuries that pointed towards foul play, with battered faces and blood-stained jackets. Later autopsies confirmed that both Johnson and Coope died from brain injuries which were “not self-inflicted.”
Several of the group later admitted that there were conflicts and problems right from the start of the climb. Only four attempted to make it to the summit, with several of the team reporting to suffer from hallucinations and symptoms of altitude sickness.
Last year a camera with film inside was discovered in Canada’s Yukon territory, which amazingly dates back to a 1937 expedition.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe