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with Stefan Nestler

Latok I: How high did Gukov and Glazunov climb?

Climbing into the fog

No photo, no video, no GPS data. It’s not possible to prove clearly where exactly on the seven-thousander Latok I in the Karakoram the two Russian climbers Alexander Gukov and Sergey Glazunov finished their ascent on 23 July. The GPS tracker didn’t work properly. The mini-camera they had used to document the ascent was carried by Sergey when he fell to his death on 25 July. The body of the 26-year-old could not be recovered. Two days before, the two Russians had reached their highest point in the fog. “By 7 pm, Sergey climbed up a small col between a rock and a snowy serac. I was standing ten meters below him. The snow was almost vertical,” Alexander recalls on “”, where an English translation of his statements was published today.

“I did not feel the summit”

The versions of Glazunov and Gukov

„I started shooting the video, commenting that we climbed up somewhere. ‘What do you mean, ‘somewhere’: it’s Latok I, Sanya,” Sergey shouted. ‘Take me,’ I shouted to him. ‘This is unreal(istic), Sanya. Everything is covered with snow mushrooms and vertical slopes here,’ Sergey answered and began to descend.” Was Sergey really standing on the highest point of Latok I at 7,145 meters? He is still in doubts, Gukov admits: “I did not feel the summit, I don’t remember the pre-summit ridge, we did not stand together and hug one another and enjoy ourselves on the summit as I dreamt to,” Alexander writes on “”. “I think that it was the top of the North Ridge or the western ‚summit‘ of Latok I.“

Either on top of North Ridge or main summit, says Gukov

Alexander Gukov (r.) and Sergey Glazunov (l.) before their ascent

I ask the 42-year-old whether he is convinced that he and Sergey really have climbed the North Ridge to its end. “Of course I am sure,” Gukov answers me adding that the only alternative is that – as Sergey assumed – the highest point of their ascent was not the highest point of the North Ridge, but the main summit of Latok I. Actually, Alexander continues on “”, “it does not matter to me whether we climbed this 360m summit ridge or not.“ It was a good climb, writes Gukov, although he and Sergey were together en route for the first time, they harmonized well as a team.

After Glazunov’s fatal fall, Gukov had been trapped on the North Ridge at 6,200 meters for almost a week before being flown out of the wall by a Pakistani rescue helicopter on long line. He was severely dehydrated and suffered from frostbite on his feet. “I am getting better quite fast,” Alexander writes to me from Russia. Get well soon!


28. August 2018 | 15:47