Atanas Skatov fell to his death on K2

Atanas Skatov
Atanas Skatov (1978-2021)

Sad news from the second highest mountain on earth: Bulgarian climber Atanas Skatov fell to his death on K2 while descending from Camp 3. His body was recovered by the crew of a Pakistani rescue helicopter. Atanas was only 42 years old.

“While changing his safety from one rope to the other, seems some errors occured and he fell down,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa, expedition leader of Nepali operator Seven Summit Treks, let it be known from K2 base camp. “We had fixed the mountain with new ropes and it’s not broken.” Initial reports of Skatov’s fall had said a fixed rope had broken.

Atanas had arrived at Camp 3 at around 7,300 meters on Thursday, but had then decided to turn back – exactly why is still unclear. ” With humility and prayers to the King of the Mountain – Mount Chogori! God forward and we after him!,” Atanas had written before setting off for the summit attempt.

As a vegan high up

Atanas Skatov on the summit of Mount Everest
Atanas on the summit of Mount Everest (in 2014)

Until 2010, the Bulgarian had only admired the mountains from a distance. His scientific career took up all his time. He studied in Plovdiv and Berlin and finally received his doctorate on plant protection. Atanas’ passion for the mountains was awakened ten years ago when the scientist set out on a 650-kilometer long hiking trail in Bulgaria. Then the mountains that Skatov climbed quickly became higher. Much higher.

His goal was to be the first vegan in the world to scale all 14 eight-thousanders. He already had ten of the world’s highest summits on his account, on one of them – Cho Oyu – Skatov had climbed without bottled oxygen.


Atanas scaled Mount Everest from both the Tibetan north side (in 2014) and the Nepalese south side (in 2017), as well as Manaslu (in 2015), Annapurna, Makalu (both in 2016), Lhotse (in 2017), Cho Oyu (in 2018) and in 2019 the four eight-thousanders Kangchenjunga, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and Dhaulagiri. In 2017 he became the first vegan to complete the collection of the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on all continents.

Before leaving for Pakistan, Atanas had told me: “Of course, it will be very difficult. And only the mountain will decide who will climb.” K2 took him.

Update 5:15 p.m.: There is still no first-hand information on whether John Snorri Sigurjonsson, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr have reached the summit. Sajid Ali Sadpara returned to Camp 3 due to a malfunctioning oxygen regulator. The other climbers reported at Camp 3 on Thursday had apparently all refrained from attempting the summit.

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