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Bold Russian Alpinists Die on Dangerous Peru Wall

Alexander Ruchkin and Vyacheslav ‘Slava’ Ivanov were killed during an attempt on the south face of Huandoy Sur in Peru.

The south face of Huandoy Sur.  Photo Damon Tighe
The south face of Huandoy Sur in Peru. Photo Damon Tighe

On Sept. 2, a rescue team discovered the bodies of Alexander Ruchkin and Vyacheslav ‘Slava’ Ivanov near the base of Huandoy Sur, one of South America’s most classic big alpine walls in the Cordillera Blanca.

Alexander Ruchkin.  Photo Valery Rozov
Alexander Ruchkin. Photo Valery Rozov

The wall was attempted in the 1960s and early 1970s and was climbed in 1976 by three different routes.

Ruchkin and Ivanov had been on the face for nearly a week when they began to descend after running into poor conditions and bad rock. The cause of their death is unknown.

Ruchkin was in his 30th year of climbing and was one of the few siege-style Russian climbers who preferred alpine-style ascents. In the 1990s, he climbed many of his biggest routes solo and established a hard new aid route on the Grand Capucin.

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Vjacheslav Ivanov. Photo courtesy RussianClimb.com
Vjacheslav Ivanov. Photo courtesy RussianClimb.com

He was involved in new routes on Great Sail Peak on Baffin Island, the Troll Wall in Norway, Shark’s Tooth on Greenland, Kyzyl Asker in Kyrgyzstan and many more. He won his first Piolet d’Or for his new route on Gonnga North in Minya Konka Range in China.

He won another Piolet d’Or for an ascent of Jannu before two attempt on the west face of Latok III and the still-unclimbed northest face of Masherbrum.

He won a┬áRussion┬áPiolet d’Or in 2013 for his first ascent of the southwest face of Kusum Kanguru with Ivanov.

Ivanov had climbed a coveted new route on K7 West in the Karakorum was was a three-time Russian mountaineering champ.