Denis Urubko Ends His Mountaineering Career

Denis Urubko is a stellar mountaineer and one of the most qualified candidates to succeed in a K2 Winter Ascent. His history attempting this feat on K2 goes back 17 years. Without a summit, he ends his mountaineering career in 2020.

Denis Urubko on Broad Peak

Dennis Urubko made his plans clear this year to climb both K2 and Broad Beak in winter. His determination has gone beyond what most climbers would have chanced. Even though an expansive weather window was expected on Broad Peak around 22 February, Urubko decided to make for the summit on 16 February.

Urubko’s climbing partner, Don Bowie, announced on Instagram on 08 February that he had left the K2/Broad Peak expedition due to a significant bout with bronchial pneumonia. His departure left Urubko alone on the mountain to attempt the summit.

View this post on Instagram

UPDATE: Broad Peak / K2 Winter Expedition. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY FOR THE CORRECT DETAILS. This video was taken on Broad Peak yesterday morning at 6900m as I descended the mountain for the last time.Throughout this entire expedition I fought every day as hard as I could, climbing in the bitter cold day in and day out, staying commited and focused and determined to summit. However, I did not mentioned it here on Instagram, but ever since my early chest infections my coughing has become worse and worse. Each night my lungs became more congested, my coughing fits more frequent and violent. Yesterday, at Camp 3, I finally threw in the towel and quit this expedition. I had to get some medical attention- enough is enough- and I need to think about my future health. Denis and I climbed back.down to base camp, and I called my insurance company and explained the situation. They immediately sent a helicopter and flew me out. I am now at the hospital, and x-rays confirm that I have been operating for sometime now with bronchial pneumonia- the doctor says I have likely had it the entire expedition- a result of the early infections. For now, I'm just grateful to be down and getting treatment. Other quick details with more info later: 1) I do not and never have had HAPE. Period. In base camp I thought it was bronchitis. But it's pneumonia. 2) There are storms and high winds forecast for (at least) the next 12 days making summit improbable before then. 3) Denis remained on the mountain to try again. GO DENIS WE ARE CHEERING FOR YOU!!! 4) @lottahintsa assessed the weather situation and determined to also leave the expedition- she told me she will post updates on her profile starting tomorrow. 5) I will post more in the days to come, but for now I just want thank each one of you for following us on this expedition- all your encouragement really means the world to me. Thank you and stay tuned for lots of pics and video now that we have proper WIFI. Don- – – – – #mountaineering #climbinglife #noteverest #nooxygen #highaltitudeexperience #adventure #climbhigher #alpinizm #karakoram #k2 #k2winter #broadpeak #alpinista #wspinaczkalodowa

A post shared by Don Bowie (@donbowie) on

Leaving behind his SAT phone, he braved wind speeds of up to  43.5 mph (70kph). He spent a night out in these killer conditions, but the endeavor proved too much for any climber. By the next day, Urubko was back in Base Camp explaining what went wrong.

Caught in an avalanche, Urubko’s fixed lines were cut, and he was carried approximately 328 ft. (100 m.) down the side of the mountain, stopping just 164 ft. (50 m.) short of a crevasse that could have swallowed him alive. Urubko gathered what was left of his strength and battled his way back down to Broad Peak Base Camp and called off his expedition. He was given the gift of evacuation off of Broad Peak by the Pakistani Army.

On 19 February, Russian Climb reported that Urubko was ending his mountaineering career after the close call. Urubko ends his career with 97 climbs of the fifth and sixth categories of difficulty, 69 climbs to the peaks above 6000 m and more than fifty difficult solos after 31 years in the mountains and 21 years on expeditions.

Urubko’s History With K2 in Winter

Urubko tried to summit K2 in 2018, the same expedition in which he diverted over to Nanga Parbat to conduct the rescue of Elisabeth Revol. Revol and her partner Tomasz Mackiewicz experienced harsh weather on Nanga Parbat that season, forcing Revol to leave him behind in order to descend for help.

Urubko and another member of his K2 expedition were able to save Revol but deemed it would be too risky to save Mackiewicz, and he was left behind.

After returning back to K2 immediately after the rescue, he and his team, led by Krzysztof Wielicki, couldn’t find a proper weather window for the climb. Also, disputes within the ranks led to the expedition’s end without a summit. According to Urubko, his opinion voted that the Basque route (Cesen) they were climbing was not the best choice for a winter climb. Nevertheless, the team continued under the plan of their leader to attempt the summit via this route.

During this expedition, Urubko attempted to climb K2 solo and was met with a violent avalanche that swept him into a crevasse. After surviving and reaching Base Camp, he left the expedition.

Pakistan Mountain News conducted an interview with Urubko after the expedition where he talked about that season.

In 2012 Urubko attempted to organize an expedition to K2, but his team’s permit was denied due to a terrorist attack in the area.

In another show of selflessness, almost 20 years ago, Urubko gave up another chance to summit K2 in winter after his partner fell ill, and he had to help him down the mountain.

Denis Urubko Ends his Mountaineering Career

Urubko announced the end of his mountaineering career before heading out to Broad Peak. But the question remained open, “is it really over?” Urubko confirmed, he has no plans to continue his climbing career.

He leaves the scene with 22 ascents to 8000ers. In 2009, he completed the 14 8000ers without supplemental oxygen. His climbing career has seen him carve new routes on Broad Peak, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Lhotse and Gasherbrum II, the latter two he achieved solo. He’s also credited with producing a new variant on Kangchenjunga and having been the first to summit Makalu and Gasherbrum II in winter.

His awards include:

  • Piolet d’Or 2010 – w/Boris Dedeshko (new route on S-E wall of Cho Oyu)
  • Asian Piolet d’Or 2006 – w/Serguey Samoilov carved new route on N-E wall of Manaslu)
  • Asian Piolet d’Or 2010 – w/Boris Dedeshko, carved new route on S-E wall of Cho Oyu)
  • Asian Piolet d’Or 2011 – w/Gennady Durov, carved new route on W wall of Pik Pobeda
  • Snow Leopard 1999 in 42 days

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