On the verge of Winter to befall in the Karakoram, Denis Urubko (46) is all geared up to venture on his much-awaited
Winter expedition to Broad Peak & K2. Following his unbeaten accomplishment of opening new route to Gasherbrum II on 1st August, 2019, Urubko, is now expectant of yet another mission in the Karakoram. Whilst Broad Peak being his foremost objective, K2 is at his successive consideration, given a stable weather window for the latter.
During a recent conversation with
Dream Wanderlust, he indicated of stepping aside from the extreme athleticism in the higher Himalayas and Karakoram except for the commercial expeditions. On being asked about his future endeavours, he ponders to shift his concentration towards rock-climbing. "Our approach is very clear - change nothing. We have more than a month for the ascent to Broad Peak, and a few weeks more for the attempt to K2. I have passed Abruzzi spur many a times already. Hence, I am aware of the tactical nitty-gritty to be taken care of," says Urubko, who formerly have climbed K2 once and Broad Peak twice.
Between two of his successful attempts on Broad Peak, Urubko made the first-ever ascent on the peak through South West Face, together with Serguey Samoilov in Summer of 2005. Two years earlier in 2003, he made his first successful ascent atop Broad Peak through the conventional route.
An ardent advocate of extreme alpinism, Denis Urubko, is, by and large, a living testament of oxygen-less adventure on eight-thousanders, irrespective of new or conventional routes. If he reaches the summit of Broad Peak, this would be his first Winter ascent on any eight-thousander in eight years since he made the first-ever Winter ascent on Gasherbrum II in 2011. Whilst that being his first Winter ascent on Karakoram, Denis is much upbeat of his forthcoming expedition to be a successful one.
In early 2018, as a part of Polish Winter expedition, Urubko temporarily
stalled his ascent on K2 to rescue Elisabeth Revol and Tomasz Mackiewicz from Nanga Parbat. Later, he scaled up to 7600m once he returned to aforesaid expedition. Nevertheless, having bagged the glory of climbing by the new routes to Manaslu, Broad Peak, Cho Oyu, and Gasherbrum II in different Summers, Urubko is now eyeing on to the forthcoming Winter. Days before embarking upon his upcoming project to the foothills of Gilgit-Baltistan, Dream Wanderlust went on to have a pleasant exchange with Denis about his up-to-the-minute groundwork and all-inclusive arrangements.
The interview is as follows:
DW: The expedition to ascend Broad Peak is all set to begin. How do you feel now?
Denis: The high-altitude ascents demand a lot of energy during the trainings. I believe that I am in correct process, and it gave me optimism. As always, I am running by the hills around my home in Nembro (in the Province of Bergamo), making long trips by the ridges. Also, physical exercises for arms are important. Another important thing is the support of my friends, and my community, of course. Alongside Polish Alpine Club and my other sponsors, we are dreaming of getting back in the Spring with superior success. Outdoor shoemaker Kayland is preparing my new warm boots. Besides, another sports gear manufacturer CAMP has been looking after my requirements for crampons, ice-axes, and many other particulars. And then, Acerbis supports in my trainings and city-style life. Now I feel like a Space-Shuttle that can fly by the support of many people for the sake of exploration.
DW: How do you plan to climb K2 after Broad Peak expedition?
Denis: First of all - Broad peak is my main target. Then we "can think" about K2 given everything else is positive. I need just one little "excuse" to turn back. We can believably use the Broad Peak Base Camp for our final summit bid to K2, of course. Our approach is very clear - change nothing. We have more than a month for the ascent to Broad Peak, and a few weeks more for the attempt to K2. I have passed Abruzzi spur many a times already. Hence, I am aware of the tactical nitty-gritty to be taken care of. After the commercial season of Summer, we wish to find some old fixed ropes, and in addition, put up a few more, all by ourselves. The most risky part is the "Bottle Neck" and we are carrying some specific equipment for this branch.
DW: Earlier you said, you would target the month of February to climb Broad Peak this Winter. Tell us about your target window.
Denis: Hmm. Many details are depending upon the weather condition. Don (Don Bowie), Lotta (Lotta Hintsa), and I are planning to use the classic and conventional route to Broad Peak, of course. As it gets pretty hard in Winter due to the icy and rocky patches – not necessarily having been covered by the snow, our opinion (as of now, to take the classic route) is to establish camps as soon as possible, to get acclimatized as able-bodied as we can, and then, to wait for the good weather window (2-3 broad days) with patience. Even one day for summit-push is enough for this expedition. However, the condition to approach the summit bid and the way down, are to be non-extreme and more "pro-survival" in its nature. Most of all, this mission entails a concrete and considerable capacity for the action.
DW: Will you come to eight-thousanders again in the future?
Denis: No one knows exactly! For the time being, I plan to stop my extreme ascents after the Broad Peak attempt in Winter. It does not matter whether I come out with success or not. I have spent a significant amount of time on many ambitious expeditions in my entire climbing career. That is more than enough. I have come to a realization that I have many of my other dreams too. To do something more difficult, I rarely consider myself strong enough now because of the age. Every step in my career has become riskier now. I hope to concentrate on rock-climbing, for easy ascents in the mountains. However, it can always be 8000ers with clients or new challenges too. But again, 4-5 years later. Because, why not? Meanwhile, I would like to be sure of the fact that I spend time with my family and also focus on job at important phases. If possible, I would love to discover adventures everywhere.
Photo Courtesy: Denis Urubko