Vitaly Gorelik [Photo] courtesy Mountain.ru
The Russian attempt on the first winter ascent of K2 was abandoned today, when Vitaly Gorelik died of heart failure in Base Camp. Gorelik and partners Valery Shamalo and Nicholas Totmyanin made it to a highpoint of 7200m on the South-Southeast Spur, and descended to Base Camp by February 2 with bad weather in the forecast and frostbite on both of Gorelik’s hands. Expedition medic Sergei Bychkovsky called for Gorelik’s evacuation, but the helicopter did not reach them through the worsening weather.
An accomplished Russian mountaineer, Gorelik was nominated for the Piolet d’Or for his 2009 route on Peak Pobeda’s north face. Gorelik and partner Gleb Sokolov climbed in alpine style for more than seven days to establish this difficult, 2400m route up the Tien Shan’s highest peak.
Two years earlier, Gorelik summited K2 as part of a large Russian expedition that put up the direct route on the west face over the course of two and a half months in summer 2007. The route remains one of the most difficult on the mountain.
At the Piolet in Chamonix, Gorelik met Denis Urubko, who writes from the Nanga Parbat Base Camp on his own 8000m winter expedition, “I am far away, I do not know what and how… I only know that for sure everything possible was done to save him. I feel bad from what I’ve lost a friend. I’m crying.”