Army Aviation successfully rescues Russian climber from an altitude of 20,650 ft (6257m)

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ISLAMABAD, Jul 31 (APP):In a daring rescue early Tuesday Pakistan Army Aviation rescued Russian climber Alexander Gukov, from an altitude of 20,650 feet (6,257 meters) on Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan, after remaining struck on a narrow ridge for over six days.

The army aviation helicopters extracted Alexander Gukov from the Biafo Glacier in northern Pakistan, a statement from the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The rescue was a success, after eighth attempt over the past five days, as inclement weather and poor visibility hampered the efforts. The army aviation rescuers used a 200-feet long sling to reach out to the stranded climber stranded on a ridge at a steep incline. The unprecedented rescue mission under extreme weather conditions was the first ever by the army aviation at this height in Pakistan.

Gukov and his climbing partner, Sergey Glazunov, were on an expedition to climb the Latok-I peak in Gilgit-Baltistan. The peak has never been successfully scaled. Glazunov lost his life while repelling from the mountain on July 25. The Russian climber was struck on Latok top since July 25 and exhausted his supplies three days back.

A statement from the Foreign Office said the Russian government conveyed its deep gratitude to Pakistan for the rescue and lauded the professionalism of Pakistan Army for successfully carrying out this courageous operation.

The Russian climber has been shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Skardu for medical care, ISPR said.

A report sent by Anna Piunova for the Russian mountaineering website of www.mountain.ru stated “After persevering and putting their lives in danger for two consecutive days, the pilots of 5th Army Aviation High Altitude Squadron proved once again that they are amongst the best by rescuing Alex Gukov through sling operation at 6300m.”

The report said that the weather cleared up during the night however they had to fight strong winds at 6300m during the sling operation. The operation was carried out by two Écureuil helicopters of the Pakistan Army Aviation that worked in tandem to spot the exact location of the climber and for rescuing him from his position.

The courageous rescue was reflective of the expertise, training and competence of the Pakistan Army Aviation pilots who braved extremely treacherous conditions to recover the climber. Early this month the army aviation rescued two British climbers from a remote 19,000ft-high peak by helicopter after their climbing partner was killed in an avalanche.

Scotsmen Bruce Normand and Timothy Miller were left stranded for two days when a storm hit their tent as they scaled Ultar Sar near Hunza in northeast Pakistan.