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Shock over how highly experienced climbers 'froze to death' in Altai Mountains

By The Siberian Times reporter
17 August 2015

Tomsk mountaineers had radioed for help but rescuers failed to reach them in time.

On 14 August 14 at 4 am the rescue operation stated again. All four were found dead at around 10 am. Picture: Emergency Ministry in Altai Republic

The climbers died on the night of 13-14 August, and their bodies were eventually evacuated on 16 August. 

Alisa Rotanova, Oleg Tverdokhlebov, Dmitry Shelefontyuk, Andrey Martynov, all aged 50 to 55, had set off to climb glacier 'Maly Aktru' (Small Aktru) which was considered modest for their mountaineering experience and capabilities. 

The radioed the rest of their group at 5pm on 13 August to say they got caught in heavy rain, asking fellow climbers to bring dry clothing. They also reported strong winds which made them halt a climb to the summit, as they had planned, but were returning to mountaineering camp 'Aktru'.

By 8pm they were in contact again to call for help. Rescuers and other climbers tried to reach them, but rain turned to snow and a rockfall prevented them reaching the four. 

Alisa Rotanova


Oleg Tverdokhlebov


Dmitry Shelefontyuk


Andrey Martynov

Alisa Rotanova, Oleg Tverdokhlebov, Dmitry Shelefontyuk, Andrey Martynov, all aged 50 to 55, had set off to climb glacier 'Maly Aktru' (Small Aktru) which was considered modest for their mountaineering experience and capabilities. Pictures: TV2 

On 14 August 14 at 4 am the rescue operation stated again. All four were found dead at around 10 am. Friends have strongly disputed the climbers were ill-equipped for the mountains saying they had experience in Nepal.

President of the climbing club Takt, Alyona Ryabova, said: 'They were all highly trained climbers. What is written now about the fact that they were not prepared, is all nonsense. 

'They are all trained. They were skiing, snowboarding, biking... They had such training that not every young man has. What happened is not clear, we are all in shock.'

The head of 'Aktru', Sergei Astakhov, confirmed all the climbers were very experienced and they climbed the mountains every year. He suggested weather was the main cause of tourists death, even though they were equipped for such conditions, and experienced in adverse weather.

Comments (1)

Looks like they did not have adequate rain gear...........some decent type of shelter........hypothermia ? Bad enough if they were inexperienced , but experienced outdoorsmen / climbers ? very sad
paul a mitchell, marathon florida usa
17/08/2015 23:05
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