Golovchenko Feared Dead on Gasherbrum IV

After days without word from Gasherbrum IV, the worst possible news. Dmitry Golovchenko has suffered what is likely a lethal fall. Sergey Nilov has returned to Base Camp safely and raised the alarm, according to Mountain.ru.

Sources at Gasherbrum Base Camp have confirmed the story and added that Pakistan Army helicopters are ready to fly to the mountain and try to locate Golovchenko. Unfortunately, the weather is very bad.

New high-difficulty route

Golovchenko and Nilov were on their third week alone above 7,000m, on a completely unknown route up the southeast ridge of Gasherbrum IV.

They were climbing with minimum gear, fast and light. To preserve their battery, they only communicated short reports over satellite phone. The latest news on their progress was from August 30.

Concern grew over the last few days. Nilov and Golovchenko were climbing off-season; they were the last climbers in the Karakoram this summer.

Gasherbrum IV as seen from the South.

The south face of Gasherbrum IV and, to the right, the east face. The ridge on the right is the one climbed by Bonatti and Mauri in 1958, which leads to the north summit and then traverses to the peak’s main summit. Photo: Dmitry Golovchenko

A long push

Golovchenko and Nilov were climbing their long new route in alpine style. They left the normal Base Camp at the base of the Gasherbrum Glacier on August 18. Then they set camp for the night in the middle of the icefall before carrying the tent up to the plateau at the base of the mountain. There, they left the tent and supplies.

On August 21, they started the climb to the summit and spent their first night at the beginning of the ridge. On August 22, they spent their first night above 7,000m. Since then, they have progressed slowly but also spent some days unable to move from their little bivouac tent because of stormy conditions.

Cutting-edge climbers

Golovchenko and Nilov won two Piolets d’Or, one for their new route up the north face of Thalay Sagar in 2016 (with Dmitry Grigoriev) and one for the first ascent of the northeast ridge of Muztagh Tower (with Alexander Lange) in 2012. All their new routes featured high difficulty and commitment.

The two Russians are also well-known for their incredible effort on the southeast face of Jannu and their epic descent. The expedition led to an excellent film called The Wall of Shadows. You can see the trailer here.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.