Gukov Rescued From Latok I

The dramatic rescue effort on Latok I has succeeded: Alexander Gukov was pulled off the mountain by helicopter early this morning and is now recovering at the hospital in Skardu.

Despite six days with little food or water, Gukov is said to be in miraculously good shape. Though he is very weak, he appears to have escaped severe frostbite.

Gukov en route to the hospital in Skardu. Photo:

The Russian mountaineer had been trapped at approximately 6,200m on Latok I since July 25, following the death of his climbing partner Sergey Glazunov as they attempted to descend the 7,145m peak. The pair had set off on their summit push on July 12. On July 15, they abandoned their heavy equipment at approximately 5,500m, taking only five days worth of food for the final push.

Gukov and Glazunov had aimed to climb Latok I via the infamously difficult north ridge. Photo: Alexander Gukov, 2017

Bad weather turned the pair back before the summit, and tragedy struck as they tried to descend: Gukov could only watch as Glazunov fell to his death while rappelling. Gukov sent out an SOS and was forced to wait for outside help, clinging to the wall without equipment to descend himself. He managed to build a snow cocoon to shield himself from the elements and stayed in contact with rescuers via a satellite phone.

Gukov’s precarious position on Latok I, with a rescue helicopter moving in. Photo: Askari Aviation / Pakistan Army

High winds and poor visibility repeatedly delayed rescue efforts, and the likelihood of reaching Gukov alive seemed to be slipping away. Finally, this morning, the weather cleared for long enough to attempt a daring air rescue. Details are still coming in, but shortly after, the Russian site reported that the mission to extract the stranded climber had been successful, thanks to the Pakistani helicopter pilots who had “done the impossible”.

Gukov was stranded for six days on Latok I before today’s rescue. Photo: