The talent-packed team of Russians attempting a bold winter ascent of K2 suffered the death of Vitaly Gorelik today in base camp, apparently from a heart attack, and has decided to end its expedition.
“Today on 11-30 am Vitaly Gorelik died in BC. Condolences to Vitaly’s family and friends from the whole our team,” they reported on the expedition website. “The weather’s extremely bad for the fourth day: snowstorm, cloudness, the strong wind. The ordered heli couldn’t fly to BC because of the weather conditions. Now we wait the heli for the transportation Vitaly’s body.
“The expedition is over. All members in the base camp prepare the expedition gear for the transportation down.”
Gorelik suffered severe frostbite on both hands two weeks ago hauling loads and fixing ropes to 7000 meters and was in base camp waiting the weather to clear so he could be evacuated. The Russians have experienced extreme conditions on K2, also known as the Savage Mountain, including hurricane-strength winds that forced them to abandon high camps temporarily.
The Russians are one of a number of teams in the Himalaya and Karakorum this season in a renewed interested in high-altitude winter climbing. On Nanga Parbat, Simone Moro and Denis Urubko suspended their planned summit attempt today in the face of high avalanche danger.
“I am very sad that Vitalka died,” wrote Urbuko from base camp. “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 I’ve lost a friend. I’m crying…Vitaly Gorelik was a man as strong as a mountain climber.
“We console with Simone Moro, all the relatives and friends of Vitaly Gorelik. We grieve with the friends of the Russian expedition to K2. Come back alive, guys. ”