top of page

How it was…

Every time Andryushka (Andrey Tselishchev) came to Almaty, we, in the company of our doctor Valentin Makarov, loaded into my old Volga, went to Anatoly Bukreev at Gorny Sadovod. The night of songs with the final “Zoyka” and discussions under the sauce of mountaineering memories charged us with a good mood until the next meetings. This tradition originated after our ascent of Dhaulagiri on the western face.  Knowing how risky our passion for extreme climbing is, you least of all expect tragic cases for yourself and your friends.
   The news of the tragedy reached our city three days after the avalanche descended on Anatoly Bukreev and Dmitry Sobolev during the ascent to the top of Annapurna.
   Chairman of CSKA Kazakhstan Novikov P.M. and senior coach of Kazakhstan in mountaineering Ilyinsky E.T. decided to send a group of Kazakh climbers to the accident site. 
   The group was determined as follows: Rinat Khaibullin - head, Dmitry Muravyov, Sergey Ovcharenko and Andrey Molotov. A day and a half was spent on issuing visas, and on December 30 at night we drove by car to Tashkent, from where we flew to Kathmandu via Delhi. 
   We got to the Tashkent airport half an hour before departure  aircraft. With the help of Shabanov and Radik Bakaev, we went through customs and boarded the plane. 
In Delhi, there were no seats on Kathmandu, and the next flight was only early in the morning. Spending the rest of New Year's Eve
  at the hotel, we arrived in Kathmandu on a Nepal Airline flight and went to the Gauri Shankar hotel, where Linda Wiley, a close friend of Anatoly, was waiting for us. 
   Departing from Almaty, we had absolutely no idea where  we will look for a group, because after heavy snowfalls, the team changed the original climbing plan. We hoped to get information from Linda, but she was only able to provide an approximate climbing route, which she knew from the words of Simone Moro, Anatoly's partner, who miraculously survived after falling from eight hundred meters. By that time, Simone had already been transferred to Italy for treatment. Having contacted him by phone, we received additional information to search for Anatoly Bukreev and Dmitry Sobolev. 
   On January 2, according to the plan, I, together with the colonel of the Nepalese military aviation, took off in a four-seater helicopter in the direction of Annapurna. After two hours of flight, we found ourselves in the center of the rock-ice circus of the Annapurna massif. A giant ridge surrounds the glacier, and our task was to find the tent in which the climbers spent the night before the tragedy. After almost half an hour circling over the circus, I began to lose hope, but then the pilot noticed a point, approaching which we realized that it was a tent. After dropping me off at the base camp at 4100m, the helicopter flew back to Kathmandu. The next day, at eight in the morning, a Mi-8 MTV helicopter, piloted by our friend Sergei Danilov, arrived with the rest of the rescuers on board.  Under  the noise of the blades, I began to explain where the tent was, set up on the wall at about an altitude of 5900 m.  Knowing full well that we had no chance of getting to the scene of the accident on foot  (lack of acclimatization plus accumulated fatigue), I hoped only for the skill of Sergei Danilov. Having made several circles over the place of the avalanche, Sergey began to look for a site where we could land. Taking into account the complexity of the terrain, the possibility of a repeated avalanche, as well as the height of the landing, Sergey hovered over the slope in two meters. Jumping down, I waved to the others to follow me. The helicopter went down into the valley. 
When planning our departure, we hoped for a miracle - Anatoly and Dmitry managed to get out of the avalanche and waited for the rescuers to arrive. However, having reached the tent, we found there only things left by the climbers.
   It's all over - a thought flashed through my head - an avalanche with an area of more than a hundred square meters is beyond our strength. 
   We, spreading out along the slope, began to search for any things that would help clarify the whereabouts of the guys.  After several hours of fruitless searching, looking at the setting sun, I realized that a decision had to be made.  To continue the search, that is, to spend the night at a height of six thousand, without acclimatization, without knowing the route of descent, was undoubtedly risky. Moreover, there was no rescue team that could insure our four.  The decision was made to descend. Having loaded some of the personal belongings of Anatoly and Dmitry into backpacks, our group began to move down. Splitting into two deuces, we went in the direction of the base camp. One of the avalanches that came down covered our deuce, fortunately, without consequences. The avalanche slopes around created a certain risk for the group, besides we were tired. Already in deep darkness we reached a safe glacier.
A month later, Linda organized a memorial day in Colorado dedicated to Anatoly Bukreev.
  This day was not a memorial day, it was a meeting of Anatoly's friends, slides were shown there and “Zoyka” sounded. There I met Simone, who had already recovered from his injuries. We decided to repeat the trip to the accident site next spring, when the snow melts. We still hoped to find Anatoly and Dmitry. 
In March Linda, Simone and I met in Kathmandu. The helicopter dropped us to the site of the avalanche. New avalanches left no trace of the tent that served us as a landmark in January. We started the descent. And then another avalanche breaks Simone, and then me. After ten meters I managed to linger, Simone hung on my rope. Severe pain in the knee of the leg, stuck in the dense snow ... No, this time nothing happened. With redoubled caution we descend to the glacier. It can be seen that Anatoly is destined to remain forever in these snows.

Rinat Khaibullin

bottom of page