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ISLAMABAD: Rescue operations for a stranded Russian mountaineer were delayed since Friday due to bad weather.

On Friday, the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) had quoted Alexander Gukov as saying in an SOS message: “I am hanging on to the wall without equipment.”

According to the ACP, Mr Gukov saw his partner Sergey Glazunov fall, possibly to his death, and is trapped at 6,200 metres on Latok-I, a 7,145m high mountain in the Karakorum Range.

Ashraf Aman, who is managing the two-member expedition, said helicopters could not take off in bad weather.

“Army helicopters will fly to Gasherbrum-I and Gasherbrum-II base camps to pick up climbers who have volunteered to be part of the rescue mission,” he told Dawn.

He said the plan was to drop the rescue team as close to the stranded climber as possible. Mr Aman also did not confirm the death of Sergey Glazunov, saying: “It cannot be confirmed until somebody has seen the body.”

On Friday, however, the ACP said the fallen climber may not have survived, given the sub-zerotemperatures and lack of food, water and medical aid.

Alexander Gukov and Sergey Glazunov had been aiming to ascend through the mountain’s North Ridge, famously first attempted in 1978, the ACP said.

In the following 40 years, the fearsome and seemingly never-ending arduous 2, 400m crest line has been attempted repeatedly by many of the world’s leading alpinists to see only failure, Karrar Haidri from the ACP said. Both climbers had returned to try again after a failed attempt in 2017 due to a shortage of food.

In July, three South Koreans were severely injured after being hit by an avalanche on Latok-I. They returned to their home country immediately for medical treatment.

During a climbing season in which 63 mountaineers summitted K2 and another climber is descending its slops on skis, the Karakorums have already seen two deaths – one on K2 and the other on Ultar Peak.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2018