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with Stefan Nestler

Alexander Gukov rescued from Latok I

Alexander in the rescue helicopter

Good news from the Karakoram: Alexander Gukov is saved. The 42-year-old Russian climber had been trapped for almost a week on the North Ridge of the seven-thousander Latok I at 6,200 meters, without food or equipment. With finally good visibility, but strong wind, Pakistani helicopter pilots managed to get Alexander off the mountain on a long line. Two helicopters were in action.

Flown to hospital in Skardu

After the pilots had discovered Gukov’s orange snow-covered tent on a small ledge, they tried to lower the lifeline to the climber. After 15 minutes Alexander managed to grab the line and latch on. He forgot, however, to remove his anchor to the mountain. Fortunately, the anchor gave way after a while. Gukov was first flown to the base camp and, after supplying him there first aid – to the military hospital in the northern Pakistan city of Skardu. In the past few days, the rescue helicopters had taken off a total of seven times, but had had repeatedly to return empty-handed due to thick clouds on the mountain.

Frostbite on his feet

Rescue near the North Ridge

Gukov seems to be doing as well as can be expected. He has frostbite on his feet and a slight injury to his chest due to transport with the lifeline, reports, citing the doctors in Skardu. Besides, Alexander is severely dehydrated. “I was about to hallucinate,” Gukov is quoted. “Avalanches went down day and night. I thought they wouldn’t rescue me anymore. I had no more strength to dig my feet out of the snow. I just lay there.”

Gukov had been on the mountain for 19 days. As reported, his 26-year-old rope partner Sergey Glazunov fell to his death on Tuesday last week while abseiling. The two Russians had tried to climb the North Ridge of Latok I up to the 7,145-meter-high summit for the first time. Apparently they turned back at an altitude of almost 7,000 meters.

First aid in BC

Since the legendary first attempt in 1978 by the Americans Jeff and George Henry Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Jim Donini, who were forced back by a storm about 150 meters below the summit, around 30 attempts to master the route failed.

In 2015, Gukov was awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Climbers”, together with his compatriot Aleksei Lonchinsky for their new route via the South Face of the 6618-metre-high Thamserku in Nepal.

P.S.: Thanks to Anna Piunova from for the first hand information during the past days.


31. July 2018 | 8:03