Anatoly Bukreev - domestic climber, is also known as a writer, photographer and guide. In 1985, became the owner of the title “Snow Leopard”, conquered eleven 8-thousanders of the planet, making a total of eighteen ascents on them. He was repeatedly awarded various orders and medals for his courage. In 1997, he won the David Soules Club Prize, which is awarded to climbers who saved people in the mountains at the cost of their own lives. In the same year, he died while climbing the summit of Annapurna along with cameraman Dmitry Sobolev during a snow avalanche.
Anatoly Bukreev was born in 1958 in the small town of Korkino in the Chelyabinsk region. He began to dream of climbing mountains when he was still in school. At 12, he became interested in mountaineering. He made his first ascents in the Urals.
In 1979, Anatoly Bukreev became a graduate of the State Pedagogical Institute in Chelyabinsk. He received the specialty of a teacher of physics, and at the same time also a diploma of a ski coach. It was in his student years that he made his first ascent into the mountains, the Tien Shan obeyed him.
In 1981, Anatoly Bukreev moved to Kazakhstan, where he settled not far from Alma-Ata. The hero of our article begins to work as a ski coach at the youth sports school. Over time, he became a mountain instructor in the sports society of CSKA. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he decided to stay in Kazakhstan, and not return to Russia, having received the citizenship of this particular republic.
As part of the Kazakhstan mountain climbing team, Anatoly Bukreev, whose photo is in this article, climbed the seven thousand meters high Pamir. In 1989, he became part of the Second Soviet Himalayan expedition, led by Eduard Myslovsky. The traverses of all four peaks of the Kanchenjunga massif at a height of 8,494 to 8,586 meters submitted at one time to its participants.
For this outstanding achievement, climber Anatoly Bukreev was awarded the title of Honored Master of Sports of the USSR, as well as a master of sports of international class. In addition, he was awarded the Order for Personal Courage.
In 1990, the hero of our article travels to the United States to conquer the top of McKinley, 6,190 meters high, located in Alaska. As a result, he rises twice to her: first as part of a group, and then along the so-called western edge alone.
In the Himalayas
In 1991, climber Anatoly Bukreev was invited to represent Kazakhstan on the First Expedition to the Himalayas. In the autumn of the same year, he rises to the peak of Dhaulagiri, which is 8 167 meters above sea level. Then the highest point of the planet also submits to Anatoly Bukreev - Everest, whose height according to official data is 8,848 meters. In this lifetime, he will rise to this peak three more times. In the Himalayas, he becomes a guide and high-altitude escort, who is hired by various expeditions for professional consultations.
President of Kazakhstan
The biography of Anatoly Mitrofanovich Bukreev also has a unique experience of climbing mountains in the company of the president of the state. It was he who was chosen by the Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev as an accompanying and personal guide when he went to Alatau. When climbing Abay Peak, whose height is 4,010 meters above sea level, Bukreev personally accompanied Nazarbayev throughout the route.
Such an action was timed to coincide with the mass alpiniade; it took place in the summer of 1995. In the same year, Russian climber Anatoly Bukreev went on two expeditions to the Himalayas. In them, athletes set themselves an ambitious goal: to conquer all the peaks, whose height exceeds eight kilometers.
Anatoly Bukreev makes new ascents to Cho Oyu and Manasla, which he had not been to before. Alone, he climbs on Lhotse, then on Shisha Pangma, and in the end on Broad Peak. As a result of this voyage, Bukreev actually becomes one of the most famous, strong and talented climbers on the entire planet.
The tragedy on Everest in 1996
In May 1996, the name of Bukreev was regularly found in the Western media in connection with the tragedy that occurred on Everest. Today, the events that took place there, at least about one of the versions, are well known thanks to the dramatic catastrophe film of Baltazar Kormakur "Everest", which was released in 2015. You can meet the hero of our article there, whose role was played by the Icelandic actor Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson.
As you know, in 1996, it was Bukreev who was one of the guides on the American commercial expedition organized by the company under the original name "Mountain Madness." They were led by Scott Fisher.
The company was engaged in organizing the ascent to the summit of Everest for its customers, who paid quite a lot of money for this. As it turned out later, at the same time as Fischer’s expedition, which included Bukreev, the New Zealand company’s commercial expedition called "Adventure Consultants" also went to the top. It was led by the famous New Zealand climber Rob Hall.
In the course of the work of both companies, a number of organizational and tactical miscalculations were made, which led to the fact that some clients of both groups, as well as their leaders, did not have time to return to the assault camp after dark after reaching the summit. The camp itself was located at an altitude of approximately 7,900 meters above sea level on the South Saddle. The weather turned bad at night, which led to the death of eight climbers, including Fisher and Hall, and two more people were injured.
On the role of Bukreev in this expedition, ambiguous, often conflicting, opinions appeared. In particular, one of the New Zealand expedition participants named John Krakauer, who was a journalist and managed to survive during the conquest of Everest, indirectly blamed the hero of our article for starting the descent from the mountain before everyone, without waiting for his clients. Although at the same time, Bukreev was their guide, which means that he had to accompany at all stages of the trip.
At the same time, Krakauer stated that later, upon learning that the expedition was in a disastrous situation, it was Bukreev who went alone in search of freezing and lost customers, despite the blizzard. Anatoly managed to save the three members of the expedition, in the middle of the night he dragged them to the tents of the assault camp right during a blizzard.
At the same time, they still accused Bukreev that, having gone to the rescue of the injured, he saved his clients by not helping Japanese Yasuko Namba, who was from another group, but her condition caused more serious concerns.
In 1997, it became known that the hero of our article is not only a talented climber, but also a writer. In co-authorship with Weston De Walt, Anatoly Bukreev's book "Ascent" is published. In it, he set forth his own vision of the causes of the tragedy, describing everything that happened from his point of view.
For example, in this book, Anatoly Bukreev states that one of the reasons for the death of some of the expedition members was poor preparation, as well as the recklessness of both of the dead leaders. Although they were professional climbers, their actions did not correspond to the conditions in which they were.
For example, in this book, also known as “Everest. Death Climb,” Anatoly Bukreev stated that for the big money the expedition took poorly trained and elderly people who did not have the necessary experience to make such a difficult and dangerous transition. In this, by the way, Bukreev and Krakauer do not contradict each other, insisting that it was unprofessionalism and poor physical fitness that caused the death of so many people. Immediately after the release of Anatoly Bukreev’s book “Deadly Ascent” became a bestseller. Like the work of Krakauer, it was repeatedly published in Russian.
To make a full impression of what was happening at that time on Everest, it is also possible on the basis of the book of American actor and climber Matt Dickinson. On the same days, he was on the northern side of Everest, but he did not take direct part in the affected expeditions.
Eight people became victims of the tragedy on Everest. From the Adventure Consultants company, these were:
- The expedition leader Rob Hall from New Zealand, who died on the southern slope due to radiation, hypothermia and frostbite.
- Guide Andrew Harris from New Zealand. Death occurred on the Southeast ridge, presumably during a fall on the descent.
- Client Dag Hansen from the USA. He died on the southern slope, most likely falling during the descent.
- Yasuko Namba from Japan. She died on the South saddle due to external influences.
Of the Mountain Madness company, only the leader, American Scott Fisher, died.
Three Indian-Tibetan border guard officers were also victims: Corporal Dorje Morup, Sergeant Tsevang Samanla and Senior Constable Tsevang Paljor. All of them died on the Northeast ridge due to frostbite and exposure.
Consequences of the tragedy
In early December 1997, Bukreev was awarded the David Solus Prize, which is awarded to climbers who saved people in the mountains, risking their own lives. Awarded this award by the American Alpine Club. The courage and heroism of Anatolia was even appreciated by the US Senate, which offered him, if he wanted, to obtain American citizenship.
In 1997, the first film was released dedicated to the events that took place on Everest. It was a picture by American director Robert Markowitz, entitled "Death in the Mountains: Death on Everest." Markowitz filmed it, based on the book of Krakauer, not paying attention to other existing sources. The tape caused an ambiguous assessment among professional climbers, as well as viewers and film critics.
In the winter of 1997-1998, Bukreev planned to climb the summit of Annapurna with a height of 8,078 meters above sea level. He went to conquer her in conjunction with the climber Simone Moro from Italy. They were accompanied by Kazakhstani cameraman Dmitry Sobolev, who meticulously recorded on the video camera all the stages of the ascent.
On December 25, 1997, the expedition members made another exit in order to process the route. All three, having completed the necessary work, returned to rest in the base camp. During the descent, a snow cornice fell on them, which provoked a sudden snow avalanche of great power. In an instant, she dared all three members of the expedition.
The Italian Moro, who was last in the bunch, managed to survive. An avalanche dragged him about 800 meters, he was seriously injured, but managed to get to the base camp on his own to call for help. Sobolev and Bukreev died on the spot.
A rescue expedition from Alma-Ata was sent to search for them. It consisted of four professional climbers, but they could not find the bodies of Sobolev and Bukreev. In the spring of 1998, climbers repeated a search operation in the same area, hoping to find the dead and bury them, but this time too, it ended to no avail.
The materials that Sobolev managed to shoot in 2002 were included in a 40-minute film about Bukreev called "The Unconquered Peak."
In Kazakhstan, the climber was posthumously awarded the medal "For Courage", including in the list of the best athletes of the country in the XX century.
Not much is known about Bukreev’s personal life, but he had a girlfriend - a public figure and a doctor from the USA, Linda Wiley. She was very worried about the death of Anatoly. It was on her initiative that at the foot of Annapurna a stone pyramid was installed in the traditional style for Buddhists. On it is written the phrase that Bukreev himself once uttered, explaining why he was engaged in mountaineering, why the mountains attract him:
Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions, they are temples where I profess my religion.
In 1999, Wiley became the founder of the Bukreev Memorial Fund, which helps young climbers from Kazakhstan conquer McKinley Peak, located in the United States in Alaska. With the help of the same fund, young Americans have the opportunity to go to the northernmost seven thousandths on the planet - Khan Tengri in the Tien Shan system in Kazakhstan. This is not only a help to novice athletes, but also the development of relations between the two countries.
For example, in 2000, the Bukreev Foundation became the main sponsor of the US-Kazakh expedition, which went to conquer the Himalayas. It was with her that the career of the most famous modern Kazakh climber Maksut Zhumayev began, becoming the second person in the territory of the former USSR, who conquered all fourteen 8-thousanders.
Wiley herself released the book “Above the Clouds. The Climber’s Diaries,” in which she collected notes from the mountain magazines and diaries of Bukreev himself from 1989 to 1997. The book is equipped with a large number of photos of the hero of our article.
In 2003, Italian climber Simone Moro, who survived the avalanche, wrote the book Comet Above Annapurna.