Portrait of Vitaly Gorelik compiled on an image of K2 at sunset.
courtesy K2 winter Russian expedition, SOURCE
The Russian winter K2 expedition at arrival in Islamabad, some weeks ago .
Image by Karrar Haidri/ExplorersWeb, Pakistan courtesy Karrar Haidri/ExplorersWeb in Pakistan, SOURCE
Winter Karakoram newsflash: Vitaly Gorelik lost on K2 - the expedition is over

Posted: Feb 06, 2012 12:36 pm EST
(Angela Benavides/story updated 1:35 pm with video) "Today at 11:30am Vitaly Gorelik has passed away in BC," a brief report from the Russian K2 winter expedition reads. "Condolences to Vitaly's family and friends from all members in the team."

While further details are expected, the team leader Viktor Kozlov has decided to call the attempt off altogether. "The expedition is over," he reported. "All members Base Camp are preparing to head down. We've ordered a helicopter to airlift Vitaly's boby, but the chopper is grounded due t bad weather conditions: a wind and snow storm."

Seriously frostbitten

Vitaly was frostbitten on the team's latest climb above 7,000 meters, two weeks ago. Together with Nick Totmjanin and Valery Shamalo, Vitaly carried gear to 7,000 meters anf fixed ropes further up for 4 days, until a fresh 3-men team (Iljas Tukhvatullin, Andrew Mariev and Vadim Popovich) took teir place.

By Feb 2, however, all team members were back in BC, ready to wait out a forecasted spell of bad weather.

Evacuation impossible due to bad weather

Vitaly Gorelik returned with frostbitten fingers in both hands. "The doctor is helping him with the first aid," the team reported back then . "We've ordered a heli evacuation, but current weather allows no flights."

The mountain has been wrapped in a fierce storm since then, preventing the badly needed rescue chopper to reach BC.

The news has quickly spread among other teams currently in pakistan 8000ers. Simone Moro, in Nanga Parbat's BC, points to a heart attack as cause of Vitaly's death, according to conversations with members in the Russian team. "Denis is in very low spirits," Moro added. "He was a very good friend of Gorelik's."

During the day, Lena Laletina of RussianClimb.com forwarded the following link to a tribute video about Vitaly made by expedition TV correspondent Yuri Dimchuk.

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