Gasherbrum IV: Golovchenko and Nilov Are Ready to Go

Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov have told ExplorersWeb that they are back at Base Camp after acclimatizing on Gasherbrum IV (7,925m).

The Piolet D’Or duo will now rest before starting their alpine-style ascent of the southeast ridge of Gasherbrum IV. Golovchenko reports that the weather was unstable yesterday, so the climbers will wait for an improvement.

Dmitry Golovchenko ascending during acclimatization.

Dmitry Golovchenko acclimatizes on Gasherbrum IV. Photo: Sergey Nilov


Old ropes and trashed camps

After their acclimatization, Golovchenko told Mountain Ru that the first icefall is very torn and the typical climbing route has collapsed, with old ropes hanging in a bad state. The two climbers had to find and mark a fresh passage for themselves. Fortunately, it seems that further up, the glacier is normal.

Golovchenko also reported that Camp 1 for Gasherbrum I and II (used by commercial teams this season) is a dump, full of trash. “Only the crows are happy, I guess,” he said.

Trash left at Gasherbrum I and II.

Trash left at Gasherbrum I and II. Photo: Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov


It is a straight line from the first camp to the second icefall, but they marked it anyway. “The icefall on the plateau between Gasherbrum III and IV [at about 6,900m to 7,200m, they told Montagna Magica] A real labyrinth and huge seracs,” Golovchenko wrote.

The climbers reached the plateau in two days. They then aimed for a line below the Italian route, but there was bad weather and poor visibility. They left a depot there to pick up on their way down. So Golovchenko and Nilov plan to climb the southeast ridge but descend by the Italian route.

“The plateau is constantly windy and the mountain is noisy,” Golovchenko wrote. “We want to climb the southeast ridge, and it looks like we can do it.”

A front-on view of Gasherbrum IV's south face from Gasherbrum's Camp 1.

Gasherbrum IV’s south face from Gasherbrum’s Camp 1. The icefall that the climbers must navigate is visible at the base of the mountain. Photo: Dmitry Golovchenko


Despite the weather forecasts, they will get started

“According to Denis Urubko and our previous experience, the weather forecast is not sustainable. So we will start in any case,” Golovchenko told Montagna Magica. Golovchenko mentioned that they are alone on the mountain. They do have a liaison officer in a nearby military camp and a cook at base camp.

This is an important, very difficult climb, yet Golovchenko and Nilov, two-time Piolet D’Or award winners (in 2013 for 7,273m Muztagh Tower and in 2017 for 6,904m Thalay Sagar), do not consider themselves professional climbers. They do receive some help from companies for logistics and materials, but both men work and save money from their salaries to fund their climbing projects. Golovchenko works as a statistician, and Nilov is an electrician.

Nilov and Golovchenko will start their ascent today or tomorrow.

Sergey Nilov (left) and Dmitry Golovchenko during their bold attempt on the east face of Jannu in 2019.

Sergey Nilov (left) and Dmitry Golovchenko during their attempt on the east face of Jannu in 2019. Photo: The Wall of Shadows

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.