Denis Urubko’s Broad Beak Evacuation

Denis Urubko, a former military soldier, was recently evacuated from Broad Peak By the Pakistani Army in an effort that was both emotional and endearing.

On 19 February, Denis Urubko reported the incredible story of his evacuation from Broad Peak. Translated and edited from his words in Russian, Urubko detailed his disbelief after being told a helicopter was on its way to pluck him off the mountain.


“Do you need a heli evacuation?” asked Maria.

“Of Course not! I am able to survive. Trekking will give me time to recover…. maybe. Step by step”

The night passed normally, -30 under the stars into the clear sky. I was frozen, though I felt pain in the toes and fingers, sadness in the heart. I waited for the sun. But the morning of 18 February was usual and arrived with clouds. No sun. That’s just my luck, perhaps. For one big, good step, one needs to pay something in return.

Ex-military discipline pushed me to pack personal equipment… just for nothing! There were very few things. I started exercises but refused breakfast. Because I planned for a rock-climbing diet for the next 5-6 years.

Once I switched on my Thuraya satellite phone, I saw that Russian journalist Anna Piunova messaged me, “Denis, helicopters start from Skardu already. You will be evacuated. General Khalil decided it.”

“Helicopters will arrive soon.” My words were a shock to the incredulous kitchen staff. They were in disbelief, “Why? How?”

“I have friends in the Pakistan Army,” I just told them. I didn’t even believe it either.

But! 10 minutes later, the atmosphere was crushed by the sound of two iron dragonflies. It wasn’t a joke. It wasn’t a miracle. It was reality.

As one of the crew landed, he asked, “Who is Denis here?”

“It’s me,” I answered humbly. “But… What? Why? Where?”

“Don’t waste any time! I have an order to carry you to Skardu. No excuses. Jump In!”  said the Pilot.

So… it happened incredibly. I flew to Paju, and next… Thanks for the help of the mountaineers Nazir and Karim. And my appreciation for the decisions of brigader Rashid Ullah and general Khalil Dar.

The pilots know these people, of course. It was an extension of the rescue story of Tomas Humar. Pilot Rashid was the main driver in that action.

And… THANKS to major Imran, Major Arslan, Major Zaheer and Major Saleh! They transported me to civilization in one hour. And I reported by phone to Mr. Khalil: – “Yes, my General! Hope to see you in Islamabad tomorrow.” This is real mountaineering culture here!

In our last communication with Urubko’s camp, his assistant noted that it would take approximately 30 hours for Urubko to reach Islamabad. We’ll update this story at that time.

This expedition on Broad Peak was meant to be a duo-summit expedition, with a K2 summit also planned. But in early February, his climbing partner had to leave the expedition after a bout with bronchial pneumonia.

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

This made Urubko the last remaining climber in the Baltoro area, and on 16 February he attempted a summit push on Broad Peak. After spending a night out in extreme weather, Urubko canceled his summit push and returned back to Base Camp, where on the way, he was notified about his evacuation.

Urubko has a long history with K2, attempting multiple winter ascents during the winter season. In 2018, Urubko diverted from K2 to conduct a rescue for Elisabeth Revol, who was requesting help on Nanga Parbat. Her Partner would die. Urubko’s expedition that year would not succeed in their summit attempt.

Currently, K2 still remains unclimbed in winter.

Below, Urubko is seen with a member of the Pakistani Army being evacuated from the mountain after announcing there would be no summit for him this season.

His 2020 K2/Broad Peak expedition is officially over. At the moment, it’s also been reported that Denis Urubko has ended his mountaineering career after his close call on Broad Peak.

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