Russian climbers are raising their voices against the Ukraine war – regardless of possible repression by authorities in their home country. “We, the climbers of Russia, oppose the military actions that the Russian army is conducting on the territory of Ukraine. We know firsthand how fragile human life is,” reads an open letter to President Vladimir Putin published on Facebook by top Russian climber Alexander Gukov. “We consider it a crime for the Russian army to invade the territory of Ukraine, as a result of which the people of both countries suffer. This is a stain on the history of Russia, with which not only we, but also our children will have to live.”
“Unjustified loss of life”
Ukrainians and Russians are connected by a thousand years of common history, the open letter says: “Ukrainians are our friends, side by side with whom we have passed the most terrible trials and shared difficulties in the mountains.” An appeal is made to Putin to immediately end the attack on Ukraine: “We cannot accept the unjustified loss of life on both sides and the incitement of hatred between our peoples and demand an immediate cessation of hostilities.”
138 people have signed the open letter, Gukov writes me (as of 3:45 p.m.): “So far (there has been) no pressure from anybody.”
Piolet d’Or laureate
Born in 1976, Alexander Gukov lives in St. Petersburg and is one of the best alpinists in the world. In 2015, Alexander and his Russian compatriot Aleksei Linchinsky were awarded the Piolet d’Or, the “Oscar of the Climbers”, for their new route via the South Face of the 6,618-metre-high Thamserku in Nepal.
In summer 2018, Gukov was rescued by helicopter from the 7,145-meter-high Latok I in Pakistan in a dramatic action. For almost a week, he had been stuck in bad weather at 6,200 meters, without food or equipment. His 26-year-old team partner Sergey Glazunov, with whom Gukov had previously climbed the entire North Ridge of Latok I for the first time, had fallen to his death while abseiling.
P.S. Alexander informed me that the open letter is not limited to Russian climbers: “Everybody from all of the countries is welcome to sign.”