Everest Veteran Alan Arnette on the Death of Climber Alexey Bolotov

Bolotov, who was attempting a new route on the Southwest Face, died Tuesday in an apparent fall. A veteran mountaineer pieces together what is known.

Abnormally heavy rockfall on Everest is made 2012 one of the most dangerous in recent history. (Photo: Grayson Schaffer)
everest rockfall

Russian alpinist Alexey Bolotov died Tuesday, May 14 while attempting a new route on the Southwest Face of Everest. 

While details are still emerging, early reports have Bolotov and his partner Denis Urubko flying to the base of the Lhotse Face to begin their summit push. They had planned on six days to climb the new route and two for the descent.

Initial reports by Urubko said Bolotov was rappelling when his rope was cut by sharp rocks and fell 300 meters down a rock filled ravine. Later the Nepal Mountaineering Association said he was killed by a falling boulder on the Lhotse Face.

His body was found by their Sherpa who was at camp with them. He reportedly left camp at 3:00AM

The two highly experienced and respected climbers had spent several weeks preparing for their summit bid including climbing the Lhotse Face to establish their camp at 7000 meters. 

They were climbing in alpine style meaning they carried all their gear on the entire summit push. They were not using Sherpas or supplemental oxygen and were fixing their own ropes as they determined the new route.

In an earlier interview, they had said the new route would start at 6650 meters on a slope of 55 degrees. His body was found at 5600 meters.

The Southwest Face of Everest has only been climbed a few times. The first successful climb was led by Chris Bonington in 1975. In 1982 a Soviet expedition climbed the Face, and the last successful climb was by the late South Korean climber Park Young-Seok in 2009. 

Bolotov, 50, won mountaineering most coveted award, the Piolets d’Or in 1998 for his climb of Makulu’s West Face and again in 2004 for the first traverse of Jannu’s North Face. He had climbed Everest in 1998 and again in 2002 without supplemental oxygen. He was born in Dvurechensk village (Sverdlovsk region), Ural, and lived in Russia. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Stick with Outside for updates from climbers on the mountain.

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Filed To: ClimbingMountaineeringMount Everest
Lead Photo: Grayson Schaffer
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