The suspended life of Evgeni Glazunov

Whether we like it or not, our gaze remains constrained by borders. The ones that separated us from Evgeni Glazunov can be counted in dozens, piling up like opaque filters from our base camp in the French Alps to the far reaches of Siberia. These filters are all the more powerful because Russia is not the most transparent of states, especially in wartime.

Yet Glazunov was one of his country’s finest climbers and mountaineers. From his hometown of Irkutsk, on the shores of Lake Baikal, he had been a competitive sport climber, champion in his own country, even earning the national title of “Master of Mountaineering”, like a certain Valery Babanov. He was an active presence in the mountains of Central Asia. With several 7,000 m peaks to his credit, numerous open routes and just as many very difficult repeated routes, Glazunov was a multi-talented mountaineer, a free spirit and sometimes a protestor, resistant to the intrusion of money into the world of mountaineering.

Evgeni Glazunov, his humor and his taste for vintage jackets. ©Coll.

D’après notre consœur Anna Piunova du media russe, Glazunov était très attaché à son indépendance, dur avec lui-même et avec ses potentiels sponsors. Les accrochages n’étaient pas rares. C’était un homme droit dans ses bottes qui ne manquait pas de courage. En montagne et ailleurs.

C’est pour échapper à différentes autorités de réglementation de la pratique en Russie qu’il se tourne progressivement vers le solo, et si possible en hiver. Ultime réalisation : la face nord de l’Aksu (5355 m, Pamir Alai) au Kirghizistan, par la voie Chaplinsky (6B, cotation russe, soit ED+ en cotation française). Après une ascension réussie qu’il a confirmée par téléphone depuis le la crête sommitale mi-février dernier, l’alpiniste de 37 ans aurait été victime d’une chute de pierres à la descente. Il lui restait quelques longueurs à descendre en rappel…

He was one of the last
romantics in mountaineering

Little publicized in Europe, or even in the West, Glazunov was nevertheless not the least well-known of Russian mountaineers, just like his brother Sergei who died in Latok in 2018. Even on Alpine Mag, type in Glazunov and you’ll find very little information. Add Evgeni, and you’ll come up empty, since it’s Sergei who stands out. It was by limiting his communication that Evgeni preserved his freedom. “He was one of the last romantics in mountaineering,” confides Anna Piunova.

On the thousand-meter wall of the Aksu North Face, only a few dozen meters separated him from the ground and the world below. Although his body was found a few days later, Evgeni Glazunov’s spirit remained up there, and with it the opportunity to meet a free and discreet man, freed from most of the ties that bind us. He seemed like nothing.