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5/15/13 – Alexey Bolotov, 50, who planned to start a new route on Everest’s southwest face this week with Denis Urubko, has died in a fall fairly low on the mountain. The top Russian mountaineer reportedly fell in the Khumbu Icefall. He apparently was rappelling when his rope cut against a sharp rock and broke, sending him for a 1,000-foot fall.
In a message reported at mountain.ru, Urubko said, “I do not know how to write this. May 15 at 5:00, Alexey Bolotov to descend on a rope… On a sharp rock edge frayed rope. Bolotov fell on the rocky gully to a depth of about 300 meters. Death was instantaneous.” [Translated with Google from Russian.]
Urubko, who had hoped to start the route with Bolotov today or tomorrow, was unharmed. The two men planned to attempt a difficult new route without supplemental oxygen, climbing alpine-style from the glacier above the Khumbu Icefall (where fixed ropes for the normal route on Everest’s south side make alpine-style climbing impossible).
Bolotov had been one of Russia’s top Himalayan climbers for many years. He played key roles in new routes on the west face of K2 and north face of Jannu, and the first ascent of Lhotse Middle (8,414 meters), among many other climbs.
This is the second planned attempt on Everest’s southwest face that has had to be scrapped this season. Earlier, Simone Moro and Ueli Steck’s expedition was canceled when they were embroiled in conflict with a group of Sherpa climbers en route to Camp 3 on the normal route while acclimatizing.
Date of accident: May 15, 2013