American Dies in Fall From Matterhorn
And yet he may one day return
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2016 9:11 AM CST
The peak of the Matterhorn mountain is pictured during sunrise, July 14, 2015.   (Dominic Steinmann/Keystone via AP)

(Newser) – Patrick Harper loved the Matterhorn so much that his ashes will one day be spread there—at the site of his death. The 52-year-old mountain climber and engineer from Butler, Pa., had been repeating his 2007 ascent of the 14,692-foot mountain in the Swiss Alps in order to recreate a collage of pictures when he fell to his death on Monday, family members tell USA Today. Police say Harper had been descending alone on a steep, icy trail covered in snow drifts when he fell almost 500 feet.

Harper—one of more than 500 people who've died on the mountain since 1865, per Climbing magazine—"had made it to the top and was coming down," his mother says. "They told me it was icy, and the wind came up." A helicopter was needed to retrieve Harper's body, which will be cremated in Switzerland. Harper’s wife, Beth, who was vacationing with her husband, will then take his ashes home to America, but the hope is that they'll one day return. "It has been in both their wills. When Beth passes away, their ashes will be put together and spread on the Matterhorn," Harper's mother says. (Lost remains of Matterhorn climbers were recently found.)

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