Updated: Only Three Survive the Ordeal on Klyuchevskaya

Only three of the 12 climbers on Klyuchevskaya volcano have survived.

Yesterday, we reported that the death toll had risen to eight. Last night it reached nine, when Andrey Mishchenko, one of the two guides, died of hypothermia. Mishchenko had broken his leg and could not move. He was stranded at approximately 4,100m.

Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano.

Klyuchevskaya Sopka volcano. Photo: Holger Lieberenz

Rescued from 3,300m

Yesterday, a helicopter dropped an eight-member rescue team at 1,663m. Early this morning, Russian sources confirmed that they had reached the three survivors in a shelter, located at the Pass of Volcanologists. This small hut lies at 3,300m between the Klyuchevskaya and Kamen volcanoes. It serves as a high camp for the climbers. The survivors had fuel and provisions.

Helicopters are airlifting them to the village of Klyuchi, where emergency services will transfer them to Kamchatka’s main hospital in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. Surviving guide Ivan Alabugin has frostbite on his hands and feet.

Rescuers remain on Klyuchevskaya Volcano, trying to figure out how to evacuate the bodies located at 4,158m.

Rescue team taking the helicopter.

The rescue team. Photo: IZ RU

Two groups of survivors become one

There had been two groups of survivors waiting for help on the mountain over the weekend. One group of four was waiting at 4,100m (two guides and two clients). The second two-person group did not make the final summit push on Saturday morning and had stayed at the hut at 3,300m.

Sadly, three of the upper group died of hypothermia over the weekend. One of the guides, Ivan Alabugin, was able to descend to the hut yesterday, saving his life.

Of the 10 climbers who made the summit push, nine perished. Four died immediately in a fall, and the others perished over the next few days, either from injuries sustained or from hypothermia. There is still no information on what caused the accident.

The three survivors are Ivan Alabugin, Anastasia Usacheva, and Roman Averin.

Earlier photo of surviving guide Ivan Alabugin with helmet and glacier glasses

Earlier photo of surviving guide Ivan Alabugin. Photo: Ivan Alabugin


We still don’t know what caused the initial fall that killed five and broke guide Andrey Mishchenko’s leg. But a few other details have emerged: After guide Ivan Alabugin accompanied his two clients, who weren’t feeling well, back to the shelter at 3,300m, he received a message from Mishchenko notifying him of the accident.

Alabugin took sleeping bags, a tent, and first aid equipment, and climbed up to the stricken survivors at around 4,200m. It took him several hours to reach them. Three had died in the initial fall, but others continued to succumb. Alabugin administered first aid as well as he could and stayed with them.

Ultimately, nine died. The last to perish was the guide Mishchenko, whose broken leg prevented him from moving.

After everyone had died, Alabugin descended to the shelter at 3,300m, where surviving clients Anastasia Usacheva and Roman Averin awaited. Here, rescuers found the three of them.

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.