Anatoli Boukreev


Anatoli Boukreev : biography

January 16, 1958 – December 25, 1997

Climbing accomplishments

The major highlights of Boukreev’s climbing career are as follows:

  • 1987
    • Lenin Peak (7,134 m) – First solo ascent
  • 1989
    • April 15 Kangchenjunga (8,556 m) – new route with Second Soviet Himalaya Expedition
    • April 30 – May 2 Kangchenjunga – first traverse of the four 8,000 m summits of the massif
  • 1990
    • April Mount McKinley – Cassin Ridge route
    • May Mount McKinley – West Rib route
  • 1991
    • May 10 Dhaulagiri – new route on the west wall with First Kazakhstan Himalaya Expedition
    • October 7 Mount Everest – South Col route
  • 1993
    • May 14 Mount McKinley (6,193 m)
    • July 30 K2 (8,611 m) Abruzzi route.
  • 1994
    • April 29 Makalu II (8,460 m)
    • May 15 Makalu (8,476 m)
  • 1995
    • May 17 Mount Everest – North Ridge route
    • June 30 Peak Abai (4,010 m) – guide for President of Kazakhstan
    • October 8 Dhaulagiri (8,176 m) – fastest ascent record (17h 15m)
    • December 8 Manaslu (8,156 m) – with Second Kazakhstan Himalaya Expedition
  • 1996
    • May 10 Mount Everest – South Col route
    • May 17 Lhotse – solo ascent, speed record
    • September 25 Cho Oyu (8,201 m) with Third Kazakhstan Himalaya Expedition
    • October 9 North summit of Shishapangma (8,008 m)
  • 1997
    • April 24 Mount Everest (8,848 m)
    • May 23 Lhotse (8,501 m)
    • July 7 Broad Peak (8,047 m) – solo ascent
    • July 14 Gasherbrum II (8,035 m) – solo ascent


Boukreev was born in Korkino, within the Russian SFSR of the Soviet Union (in the present Chelyabinsk Oblast). He came from the narod, the common people, and his parents were both poor. After completing high school in 1975, he attended Chelyabinsk University for Pedagogy, where he majored in physics and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1979. At the same time, he also completed a coaching program for cross-country skiing.

After graduation, the 21-year-old dreamed of mountain climbing. Boukreev moved to Alma-Ata, the capital of the neighbouring Kazakh SSR (present day Kazakhstan) located in the Tian Shan mountain range. From 1985 he was part of a Kazakhstani mountaineering team, and he became a citizen of the Kazakhstan Republic in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Death on Annapurna 1997

In 1997 Boukreev was the recipient of the David A. Sowles Memorial Award given by the American Alpine Club. It was presented to him by Jim Wickwire, the first American to summit K2. The award is the American Alpine Club’s highest award for valor in recognition of his role in rescuing climbers in the 1996 Everest disaster.

Three weeks later, Boukreev was attempting to climb the south face of Annapurna I () along with Simone Moro, an accomplished Italian mountaineer. They were accompanied by Dimitri Sobolev, a cinematographer from Kazakhstan who was documenting the attempt.

On December 25 around noon, Boukreev and Moro were fixing ropes in a couloir at around the level.Boukreev; Wylie; Above the Clouds pp. 226–227. Suddenly, an enormous cornice broke loose from the heights of Annapurna’s Western Wall and rumbled down the long couloir. The avalanche knocked Moro down the mountain where he landed just above their tent at Camp I . Fortuitously, Moro had somehow stayed near the top of the avalanche debris and managed to dig himself out after a few minutes.

Unable to see or hear any signs of Boukreev or Sobolev, who had disappeared beneath "car-sized blocks of ice",Boukreev; Wylie; Above the Clouds p. 1 Moro descended to Annapurna base camp where he was flown by helicopter back to Kathmandu for surgery on his hands, which had been ripped down to the tendons during the fall.Anatoli Boukreev memorial at [[Annapurna base camp]]

News of the accident reached New Mexico on December 26. Linda Wylie, Boukreev’s girlfriend, left for Nepal on December 28. Several attempts were made to reach the avalanche site by helicopter but inclement weather in late December prevented search teams from reaching Camp I. On January 3, 1998, searchers were finally able to reach Camp I and an empty tent. Linda Wylie subsequently issued a somber statement from Kathmandu: This is the end… there are no hopes of finding him alive.

Boukreev had dreamt in detail of dying in an avalanche nine months before his death. The only thing missing was the name of the mountain. When Anatoli’s girlfriend tried to convince him to take a different path in life to avoid a fate that Boukreev was convinced of, he responded, "Mountains are my life…my work. It is too late for me to take up another road."Boukreev; Wylie; Above the Clouds p. 31.

At the site of Annapurna base-camp there is a memorial chorten to Boukreev including a quotation of his: "Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion."