It’s been a tough season for major Alpine Climbers. Early in July, Canadian Climber Serge Dessureault suffered a fatal fall on K2. Now Latok I, in the Karakoram range of Pakistan has claimed another climber’s life and left Russian climber Alexander Gukov stranded on the North Ridge of the mountain.
On July 25, Gukov’s partner Sergey Glazunov fell during a rappelling accident. Now, Gukov is stranded on the North Ridge of Latok I while a rescue mission is quickly taking shape. Rescue climbers from several different countries, as well as helicopters, have been standing by, waiting to make a rescue attempt, but poor weather prevented any attempts up the mountain as of the day this article was written.
The two Russian climbers began climbing Latok I’s North Ridge on July 14th, taking only a five-day supply of food with them. They encountered poor climbing conditions during their entire ascent thanks to the unseasonably warm weather that Pakistan has experienced this climbing season. On July 23rd, the team was just shy of 7,000 meters—the second highest point that any climbers have ever reached on Latok I. Given their shortage of food, Gukov and Glazunov opted to head back down and make another attempt at a later date. During their descent, Glazunov fell to his death, leaving Gukov trapped at about 6,200 meters and unable to descend any further on his own. The distress signal was transmitted by Gukov on July 25th and rescuers have been waiting for a break in the weather ever since.
This certainly isn’t the first time that Latok I has been a headliner among dramatic climbing news. Back in 1978, a foursome of climbers from America attempted to tackle the mountain. They made it just a few hundred feet short of the summit before they had to head back down because one of the party became seriously ill. Since then, more than two dozen climbing teams have attempted to reach the summit and none of them have been able to make it as far as the original team back in `78.
The alpine climbing community is standing by with positive thoughts and prayers for the safe rescue of Alexander Gukov.