Responses to Boukreev's Death
People from around the world are moved by the legendary climber's death

Co-author Weston DeWalt
Weston DeWalt, who co-wrote The Climb with Anatoli Boukreev, has issued this statement to The Mountain Zone after hearing confirmation that the famed Russian climber died in a Christmas Day avalanche on Annapurna in Nepal.

DeWalt's Statement:
Boukreev & Moro Boukreev & Simone Moro
(photo: Boukreev)
I met Anatoli Nikoliavich Boukreev on May 28, 1996, eighteen days after the tragedy on Mount Everest. When I heard his story and those of the other survivors, I recalled a quote that I had tacked over my desk more than five years before. The words are those of Andrey Tarkovsky, a Russian film director. He said, "I am interested above all in the character who is capable of sacrificing himself and his way of life — regardless of whether that sacrifice is made in the name of spiritual values, or the sake of someone else, or of his own salvation, or of all these things together. Such behavior precludes, by its very nature, all of those selfish interests that make up a 'normal' rationale for action; it refutes the laws of a materialistic world view. It is often absurd and impractical. And yet — or indeed for that very reason — the man who acts in this way brings about fundamental changes in people's lives and in the course of history. The space he lives in becomes a rare, distinctive point of contrast to the empirical concepts of our experience, an area where reality — I would say — is all the more strongly present." Anatoli Boukreev, in my experience, was one of those characters, and I am honored to have collaborated in his effort to tell his story.

A few days after Anatoli and Dimitri Sobolev had gone missing on Annapurna, I got a phone call from a leading, weekly news magazine. The caller was "fact" checking a sketch of Anatoli they were planning to run. As he read, the caller said, "Anatoli Boukreev will most likely be remembered as the villain of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air." I stopped the reader and said, "likely not." I said I thought Anatoli would be remembered for the consummate climber he was. I said I thought it would be remembered that his peers had seen him through eyes different than those of Jon Krakauer when they awarded him the David Sowles Memorial Award for his valor on May 10 and 11, 1996.

Considering the avalanche that took Anatoli and Dimitri away, I remember a conversation I had with Anatoli in December, 1996 about his almost having lost his life during the rescue of two fellow climbers on Manaslu the year before. Anatoli said, "There is not enough luck in the world. That night I got somebody's share." Remembering those words, I think that it's not that Anatoli ran out of luck on Annapurna on Christmas day, but that he gave it to somebody who needed it more. I haven't the words to express how much he will be missed.

— Weston DeWalt, Co-Author of The Climb

Indonesian Climbers Mourn Coach and Friend

Dear Mountain Zone,
I just arrive from Kathmandu, invited by Nepal Tourism Department to attend the inauguration of Visit Nepal Year 01 January 1998.

Friends in Kathmandu inform me about Anatoli Boukreev accident.

Me and all friends of Tolya's in Indonesia are very shock!

Tolya is more than a coach and friend to us...

We will always remember his responsibility and commitment to us, especially during Indonesia-Everest Expedition 1997... Some people think that Tolya is a difficult person, but it's because he's a real professional mountaineer, he knows the truth and always straight.

Good bye Tolya, thanks for everything, may you rest in peace, we'll always remember you.

When his Russian friend Vladimir Bashkirov died on Lhotse May 27, 1997, Tolya told me he hopes that like Bashkirov, rest forever in the place he loves, high on the mountain.

I'm sure he's happy now.

Selamat jalan sahabat,
Monty Sorongan

News Updates

I want to thank you for your updated news on Mr. Boukreev. I check your site at least three times each day... Your site is the only source I have found who takes the time to update this news, as for the rest of the US news it's, business as usual. Thanks for your continued coverage.

Tim Healy
Portland Oregon

The Bravery To Do What No One Else Could

I am a 12 year old girl whose only experience with climbing has beein in an indoor rock gym yet somehow my dad and I became interested in the '96 Everest disaster. I have read Jon Krakaur's book on the event and the National Geographic account of the Everest rescue and Anatoli's heroic actions have fascinated me. I discovered his death after a lecture that he was teaching and I was going to attend was canceled. Using your web site I became informed of his death. Boukreev should not have died at such a young age as he had the will for the mountains and the heroism inside of him to blossom for longer than a lifetime. If not for this man 3 people would have perished on the South Col on the night of May 10, 1996 but he had the bravery to do what no one else could, he left the boundaries of Camp IV to enter the dangerous and deadly night. The only consolation offered to me, his family, and the rest of the world is that Anatoli died where he loved most.

Self-reliance And Personal Responsibility

Dear Mountain Zone;
Thank you for your excellent and up-to-date coverage of the Boukreev tragedy that unfolded during the past couple of weeks on Annapruna. Having read both Into Thin Air and The Climb I am inclined to believe that Toli had it right, and that Jon Krakauer is just not justified in his criticism. Furthermore, I agree with Toli's overall philosophy of the role of the guide as a "coach" or "trainer" as opposed to a "guardian." It is certainly ironic that it is the former Soviet citizen who is the strongest advocate for self-reliance and personal responsibility...

Thanks again. Keep up the good work!


Great Man, Mountaineer and Hero

Mountain Zone - Thank you very much for your excellent coverage of this terrible tragedy. I especially liked the real audio interviews although I must say I was moved to tears hearing Toli's voice and thinking about his tragic demise. It brings to mind the death of Guenter Messner, also killed in an avalanche while making an epic decent with his famous brother. His body was never found, although Reinhold and some Sherpas searched for many days. Good bye, Anatoli, you were a great man, mountaineer and hero to many.

Robert Quinlan
Boulder, CO

Mountaineers Push the Limits

As an avid mountaineering enthusiast, I offer my condolences to the family of Anatoli.

Without knowing him personally, I believe he was a professional at what he did and achieved great feats, to receive in return only the passion that Mountaineering brings forth.

I am about halfway through reading The Climb and his passing has had a tremendous impact on how I interpret Anatoli and his actions on May 10/11 1996 based on the information I read in Into thin air.

I believe Anatoli acted in the best of faith on Everest and even if he had acted in less than the best of judgment on Everest prior to the storm, he still saved lives!

Mountaineers push the limits. They work in conditions uncontrolled by humans. If anyone had any impact on overcoming the uncontrollable, it was Anatoli.

Mountaineering lost a legend with Anatoli gone.

Bill C.
Miami, FL

More Like An Elemental Force

Anatoli Boukreev seemed like one of those athletes who is more like an elemental force than a human being. His death is therefore shocking.

Thanks for honoring Boukreev during his life by giving him a voice in the media, and thanks for treating his death like the important news it is.

Brian Wachter
[email protected]

Rest in Peace

May Anatoli rest in peace and may he be remembered for his efforts and successes on Everest.

In my eyes, he is a hero, not only in the world of mountaineering, but in the existance of all mankind. His story should remain as is.

Anchorage, Alaska

Prepared for the Many Challenges

A new mountaineering and backcountry skiing enthusiast, I returned from a trip out west the other day and gleefully found the "Mountain Zone." My joy at finding a web site that could keep me in touch with the endeavors of other mountaineers quickly changed to shock and sadness when I saw the file reports about the search for Mr. Boukreev.

I was on a mountain learning about avalanches as he was being entrapped by one. I have followed the daily updates on the web site since my return. Although my knowledge of Mr. Boukreev's experiences is limited, I believe that he was a man of great emotional and physical strength, prepared for the many challenges that he faced in life. I can only imagine that his loss must be a great tragedy for both his loved ones as well as for the climbing community. My condolences to all.

Thank you "Mountain Zone" for keeping me posted. I have much to learn about mountaineering and will stay in touch.

[email protected]

He Will Be Missed

I am truly saddened that Anatoli Boukreev is gone... but he went the way I'm sure he wanted to, and I hope that he is in eternal peace now... He was one of the most influential climbers of the modern day, and a source of inspiration to me.

I will miss the reports of his great accomplishments, something that I always looked forward to. He will truly be missed.

David Mech
Bridgeport, CT

The Climbing World Has Lost...

As an avid winter trekker, hiker and skier I have been intensely engrossed with the Everest Tragedy and Anatoli over the past year or so. I have read Into Thin Air, The Climb and Everest — Mountain Without Mercy, and I believe that Anatoli's actions were justified on that tragic day in 1996. After following the story through different sources (Krakauer, Toli himself, Beidelman, Lene, David Breashears, etc) I have all the respect in the world for Anatoli, his decisions, his actions and the way in which he attacked mountains like no one else.

I was utterly shocked when I first came across your Mountain Zone bulletin a few weeks back, and have been following it daily since. I obviously did not know the man, but feel as though I have lost a well-respected friend with this unfortunate accident.

I will certainly miss reading about Toli's adventures in the future. My condolences go out to both Toli and Dimitri's families as well as Linda Wylie.

The climbing world has certainly lost a strong motivator and important figure.

Mountain Zone — Thank you for your up-to-date news on the accident. If not for you, I would not have heard ANYTHING about it. Keep up the good work.

Portsmouth, NH

Still Hope...

Thank to all people for warm words about Anatoli. The special thank Linda Wylie for [her] involvement and help in search of my friends ? Anatoli and Dimitry. A thank Mountain Zone for the possibility, given all people, to express the feelings on these pages... I still hope for a miracle.

Alexandr Severnuk

Anatoli Will be Missed by Friends

Thanks for your news and superb forum regarding Anatoli. It is comforting to see that people really understand what he stood for. He was here in Salt Lake just a couple months ago, and gave a little slide show at my school before the book-signing. He was looking forward to being back in the mountains.

It was strange that my mom sent me a video her friend Ned took of Anatoli for Christmas: playing and singing beautiful Russian songs on the guitar when they all were visiting here in 1993. I always thought he could have had a career as a professional musician! I may try to get that video on the web! That's how I will remember Anatoli: singing ? often about the mountains ? and enjoying being with his friends, especially in the mountains.

Anatoli would always send cards to us from base camp, even to my grandmother, ever since he stayed with her going through New York during his first U.S. visit, and he'd call her every time he was back. When my friends Elliott and Carol took their honeymoon in Almaty, and I joined them, Anatoli was as great a host as he was with everything: introducing us to his friends, his mountains, and his country, on climbs, picnics, trips to the sauna

He enjoyed the U.S. very much: his time in Santa Fe with Linda and Weston, in Telluride and Boulder with Kevin, Beth, Martin, Neal, and others, in Salt Lake, and California with so many good friends. Not so many people know he had climbed in the Needles of S. Dakota with his friends Todd and Beth among others, and and enjoyed the East Buttress of El Cap with Elliott.

After the Everest circus, in which all his clients came back safely, he was exhausted, confused, and saddened at being villainized by Jon Krakauer, and perhaps more by not feeling the support of a comrade. He spent most of his days sleeping, being nurtured at the home of his friend and climbing partner Jack.

Driving back to Salt Lake after we volunteered at the Tibetan Freedom concert, my friend Micah and I took Anatoli up a climb on the back of Half Dome, always waiting to help Micah, who was on his second climb ever. On the top, he stalked the marmots for photos, and went for a swim above Nevada Falls on the way down. He shared my fondness for the Tibetan people, and always carried a dorje I gave him and wore a protection string with a knot tied by the Dalai Lama when he was in the mountains....

But since the tragedy, Anatoli had recovered his peace of mind, thanks to the support of his friends. Linda, Weston, and Galen Rowell's friendship and public support meant a great deal to him. The Tibetan's say that one's most precious possession is one's peace of mind, so it seems the most noble calling to give peace of mind to others. And that's also what Anatoli did for us... when we think of him, it still brings only inspiration, peace, and happiness.

Bob Palais
Salt Lake, Utah

Thank You For the Toli Coverage

Just had to send a note of thanks for your coverage of the unfolding events of Anatoli Boukreev's loss.

Your site is/has been outstanding already, but with the news coverage has shown its excellence in a whole new dimension.

Ed McReynolds
Hood River, OR

Ode to Climbing Wild


My memories of you I'll cherish. I know you'll be there when things get wild. But now I suppose you have what you knew so well... the mountains, the Himalaya, the wind, the snow, the beauty... Maybe tonight I'll let myself cry... and I'll remember you...

Wild... roaring in a storm... like a bear... taking in what nature gives... feeling it ... thriving in it... its life... climbing wild...

But also,
Strumming a guitar singing Zoika...or about the Caucuses... or about coming to San Francisco. Eating an Almaty apple fresh off the tree... or making a big loaf of bread... heartier than I ever knew.

Jogging along talking... mountains... sport... training... politics... oxygen... right... wrong... socialism... capitalism... changing the world... living in the world...

Contemplating the hands we've been dealt... our fate... sudba. Soul... more soul than I ever thought I would have as a friend... I'll miss you... and in thirty-three years when you're seventy-two like Jack we'll sit down and drink a beer and eat some salt fish and hear your guitar.

Regards to Gennady Vasilienko...

Always climb wild!
Elliott Robinson

Buka, We Miss You

Thank you for your excellent coverage on Anatoli Boukreev.

Buka's untimely death came as a tremendous shock to Serguei and I. When last they spoke, just before his departure to Annapurna, Serguei told me Anatoli sounded very tired, almost subdued.

I first met Boukreev in passing. The year was 1992 and the place was Kathmandu. Later in 1993, we met in the stationary camp of our mutual friend, Kazbek Valiev. Buka was training in his beloved Tian-Shan Mountains. Russian fast climbing was his specialty. And as a cross-country ski trainer in Kazakstan and a runner, Buka had a tremendous level of endurance. When the climbing season ended, we stayed in Anatoli's flat in Alma-Ata. Those were desperate times; just to be able to pay for your food in the market was a luxury. It was also a sad time with the death of another great climber, Valeri Khrishchaty.

Serguei had told me many stories about Buka and how they had met in 1986 to compete for a place in the Kanchenjunga Expedition. And how in 1989, Buka and Serguei had been selected to be on the same rope team, together with Valeri Khrishchaty and Vladimir Balyberdin. Of course it was, for me, the most outstanding expedition, to climb all 4 tops of Kanchenjunga and then to go back and traverse the 8000er. I don't think it will ever be repeated again, not like that.

The competition to be accepted to go on this expedition had been grueling. Any climber worth his salt wanted to go to climb an 8000er. So to make it fair the Soviet Union's Department of Sports held a series of physical tests of endurance, which included rock climbing, ice climbing and overall endurance. Of the 50 climber invited to the Mount Elbrus phase, only 35 were selected to continue on to Peak Communism. From these competitors 26 went on to Peak Pobeda to simulate the Kanchenjunga Traverse.

Now the Pobeda traverse is greater than 10 miles at an altitude of 7000 meters plus. The Soviet trainers considered this to be the ultimate test for the Kanchenjunga climbers. So, after undergoing as many competitions as humanly possible, of the 26 climbers left, 22 were chosen to go to Kanchenjunga.

So as you can see the only chance a Soviet Climber had to go to the Himalaya was to compete within the system and win that privilege. Having the freedom to just go to the Himalaya, whether or not you are competent enough as a climber, was never an option. It was a dream.

I will always remember Buka as the staunch, competitive Climber that he was. He lived, breathed and loved mountains. Perhaps we should be grateful that he did not meet with Balyberdin's fate. It is a good thing that Buka is resting in the mountains.

Before Buka became famous there was a time when nothing came easily for him. But he pursued his dreams tenaciously with a vigor unlike anyone I have ever known. In 1994 Buka came to my home in Telluride. He had just climbed K2. Still pursuing the dream he was desperate for cash and in need of sponsorship to continue his quest for more 8000ers.

I did not have much to offer him, the local slide show. My home was small but nevertheless a far cry from Anatoli's barren flat in Alma-Ata. He slept in my son's top bunk. We found him a job shoveling snow on Main Street. Despite any hardships, Buka continued to train relentlessly every morning and every afternoon. I remember Buka decided to compete in the local cross-country ski race. He would have won that too if not for a mere technicality. One last thought of Buka is the day he woke up feeling not so good, a sore throat, and headache. "Oh Well", he said, "I feel like I need go for run". I guess those days are gone now.

Buka, we miss you.
Fran & Serguei Arsentiev

Anatoli, May his Spirit Carry On

After reading The Climb and viewing Larry King's interview of Anatoli Boukreev, I became an instant admirer of the Man. As a person with no climbing experience I have even fantasized of climbing Everest with Anatoli as a guide, or coach as he might have said. I would trust that he would have been the one to follow. I feel compelled to say that I am sad that he has died. Although I did not know him I feel he was a great contributor to mountaineering. May his spirit carry on.

Mark Sternberg
Redlands, Ca.

January 16th

Happy Birthday, Anatoli, wherever you are.

Michelle Papp
Akron, Ohio

What a Hero!

I first found out about Anatoli Boukreev after reading Jon Krakaeur's Into Thin Air. Because of this book he has received bad press. My feelings towards Anatoli were the exact opposite after reading the book. What a hero! The efforts he made trying to save Scott Fisher and company were heroic. It is with stunned sadness that I read about his death. To me his memory will live on.

Paul Spain
[email protected]


My name is Tim and I was an avid climer in my early years. I have a great respect for Mother Nature and the things she can do. To lose a person like Anatoli Boukreev is a tragedy and I really don't think that the world will ever replace a climber of that caliber.May he rest in Peace.

[email protected]

Toli, you will be missed

Although I did not know Anatoli, I feel a great loss to mountaineering and to everyone who climbs for the love of it like he did. I too have dreamed of going to Everest with Anatoli as my guide. Ever since the tragic events of May '96 on Everest

I have read everything I can on high altitude climbing and Mt. Everest in particular.

Jon Krakauer's book "Into thin Air" was excellent from a journalists point and even though he is a good climber he did not have the high altitude experience that Anatoli had, I think it was unfair what he had to say about Anatoli's actions on May 10.

After reading the book "The Climb" I relized that he was truly an awesome climber with extra ordinary strength, both physical and mental. I wonder how many of us could have or would have done what Anatoli did that night on the south col.

I have been in conditions as cold, but never at that altitude and I can't imagine the strength that it took, let alone the courage to risk his life for people that really were not his responsibility, he could of done what Krakauer was doing, sleeping.

Anatoli knew that he would probably die in the mountains and he accepted that, for me, that is proof enough of the type of man that he was. Anatoli, you will be missed.

David Wibiral
Las Vegas, NV.
[email protected]

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