The route is historic by itself, but it’s the manner in which Urubko completed it that has set the mountaineering world abuzz. He left his radio and satellite phone in base camp and brought no sleeping bag, water or stove. With only a handful of energy gel packets for sustenance, he climbed 24 hours to the summit and downclimbed 18 more to return via the normal route. His girlfriend, the alpinist María “Pipi” Cardell, told the Spanish-language climbing site Desnivel that Urubko “climbed the summit pyramid in a straight line, as he planned not to coincide with any of the existing routes or variants.”
All this after first tagging the summit via the normal route for “a nice acclimatization,” and then participating in three successful rescues while he waited for conditions to improve. He’d planned to open the new route with Cardell at a more measured pace, but she suffered a debilitating back injury on the weeklong trek to base camp. When it became clear in mid-July that she was not fit to climb, Urubko decided on his solo lightning strike.
“Originally, María and I planned three to five days. But going solo has certain advantages. I could go non-stop, full blast,” Urubko said in a brief interview with the Russian-language site, Mountain. “Despite the problems, I managed to keep the fire alive. I won’t back down when it is possible to realize a dream,” he said.