After being trapped at an elevation of 20,341 feet on Latok I for 6 days, Russian mountaineer Alexander Gukov, 46, was rescued by members of Pakistan’s 5th Army High Altitude Squadron in a mission that was nothing short of a miracle.
Latok I’s North Ridge has remained unclimbed since 1978 when Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, George Lowe and Jeff Lowe almost reached the summit but were a few hundred meters short when one of their team members nearly died from altitude sickness, according to Alpinist.
Gukov was stranded by himself on the slope after his climbing partner, Sergey Glazunov, 26, fell to his death on July 25th while rappelling. This left Gukov without enough gear to get himself down. The duo had set out with a 5-day supply of food, and when Glazunov fell they were already on their 13th day and rationing their supplies. This was their second attempt at climbing the North Ridge.
According to a July 24th post by Mountain.RU Editor-in-Chief Anna Piunova, she had received an SOS signal from Gukov that he needed to be evacuated, this his partner had fallen, and he was hanging on the wall with no equipment.
On July 26, a rescue team assembled to retrieve Gukov via helicopter long line but were grounded until July 31st due to adverse weather conditions, according to a Mountain.RU report. The team who finally carried out the mission were members of Pakistan’s 5th Army High Altitude Squadron. The rescue had to be conducted entirely by helicopter as reaching Gukov by climbing was deemed impossible.