Showing posts with label Denis Urubko. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Denis Urubko. Show all posts

Video: Meet Denis Urubko – One of the Strongest Mountaineers of All Time

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably seen me mention alpinist Denis Urubko on more than one occasions. That's because I'm often covering is unique – and usually very difficult – expeditions to some of the world's toughest peaks. Denis has climbed all 14 of the 8000-meter mountains, each without supplemental oxygen. He has made winter ascents on Makalu and Gasherbrum II, and has been planning some alternate expeditions on K2 as well. In short, he is one of the top mountaineers of all time, and yet he is also off the radar for many people who follow the high altitude climbing scene.

In the two videos we get to know Denis much better. He shares his own personal story. What it was like for him growing up in Russia, how he got started in climbing, and what drives him to push new boundaries in the mountains. The two clips help us to get to know him better, and learn what spurs him on to continually return to the high places of our planet to try new things. If you are intrigued by the men and women who go on these demanding expeditions, I think you'll find his story a fascinating one.

Tip of the hat to Adventure Journal for sharing these videos. They are excellent.

Winter Climbs 2014-2015: The Season is Underway!

This past weekend officially marked the first day of winter here in the northern hemisphere, which means it is time for the winter climbing teams to start their expeditions as well. While some are waiting until after the holidays to get underway, others are already making their way to the mountains, where they'll now face the daunting task of climbing some of the world's toughest peaks during the coldest, most treacherous time of year.

There will be no fewer than than three teams heading to Nanga Parbat this winter, and according to ExWeb the Russian squad of Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval left for Pakistan yesterday. They hope to be on the trail to Base Camp as early as tomorrow, with plans for reaching the mountain as quickly as possible. They intend to climb a variation of the Schell Route on the Rupal Face, establishing Camps 1-3, with an intermediate camp consisting of one small tent stationed between C3 and the summit. They'll start acclimating as soon as they arrive, and will then let the weather dictate their progress.

The Russians won't be alone in Base Camp. Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz is already there after acclimatizing in the Rupal Valley. He's sharing space with Elisabeth Revol and Daniele Nardi, although they won't be climbing together. Mankiewicz is attempting a solo summit of Nanga Parbat, while Revol and Nardi will try a new route.

Also heading to Nanga Parbat soon will be the Iranian team of Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmoud Hashemi. The trio of climbers remain at home in Iran at that moment, where they are currently putting the final touches on their planning and logistics. They plan to depart for Pakistan during the second week of January.

After sorting out the issues with their climbing permit on K2, Denis Urubko and his team, which consists of Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon, will now depart for China in the first week of January. Denis posted to his Facebook page that they will have 40 days to climb once they reach Base Camp. He feels confident that they are a strong enough team to accomplish the first ascent of K2 in the winter. They will be climbing along a new route on the North Face of the mountain, where they hope to get some protection and respite from the dangerous winds.

Finally, we head to Alaska for an update on Lonnie Dupre's efforts to climb Denali in January. He was flown out to the mountain last Thursday, and has skied into his first campsite, which he's using as a base of operations until the expedition officially gets underway on January 1. In the meantime, he has started to shuttle gear up to Camp 1, located at 7800 ft (2377 meters) as also acclimatizes to the cold and altitude. He has a lot of work to do for his solo expedition, but with more than a week to go until the arrival of the new year, Lonnie is in good shape so far. He even reports that a raven has joined him on his expedition, and has followed him on his journey over the past few days.

For more on Lonnie's efforts, check out the video below.

Winter Climbs 2014-2015: K2 Permit Issues Resolved, Three Teams Head to Nanga Parbat

With the winter climbing season now just a few days away from officially beginning, things are really starting to get interesting. It now appears that we will have a team on K2 after all, and no less than three squads are headed to Nanga Parbat. Meanwhile, in Alaska, the weather is still dictating the start of the action.

We'll start with an update on K2 today since things have started to improve there. Yesterday I posted the news that Denis Urubko, Adam Bilecki, and Alex Txikon had been denied their climbing permit by the Chinese, just as they were preparing to depart for the start of the climb. Reading Denis' Facebook page, it was clear that he was dismayed over the news, and looking for ways to continue with an expedition that has been planned for months. Fortunately today there is good news for the trio, as the Chinese officials have reissued the permit, although it does involve a two week delay in the start of the climb. This will allow the climbers to remain home for the holidays, and will only minimally alter their schedule. There is no word yet on when they will now depart for China. 

Meanwhile, there are three teams that will now be headed for Nanga Parbat, including a Russian squad that includes Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval which will depart for Pakistan on December 22, and an Iranian team consisting of Reza Bahadorani, Iraj Maani and Mahmoud Hashemi, who will start their climb in early January. 

Polish climber Tomak Mackiewicz is already in Pakistan, where he as been acclimatizing in the Rupal Valley. Mankiewicz has already knocked off a couple of 5000 meter (16,400 ft) peaks, and will be heading to Base Camp in time for Christmas. He'll be joined in BC by Elisabeth Revol and Daniele Nardi, who will bring a film crew along with them. While the trio will share space, Tomak hopes to climb solo to the summit of Nanga. 

There has been no news yet out of Lonnie Dupre, who is in Talkeetna, Alaska awaiting the start of his January expedition to Denali. Poor weather has delayed his flight out to the mountain, although he remains unconcerned at this point, as he doesn't intend to start the climb until January 1 anyway. For now, he sits and waits for things to improve so he begin his fourth attempt at the highest mountain in North America during the coldest, harshest, darkest season of all. 

Finally, lets not forget about Simone Moro. The Italian is also cooking something up for the winter, but he has yet to reveal his plans. We will probably learn more about what he has in store after the holidays as well. Knowing Simone, it should be something very interesting. 

The pieces are now falling into place for the start of the winter season. Things should really start to pick up beginning next week.  

Winter Climbs 2014-2015: Chinese Deny Urubko and Company Climbing Permit for K2

The winter climbing season is set to officially get underway in just a few days, and as I write this, the teams that are planning major expeditions this year are busy putting the finishing touches on their plans. But one squad received bad news yesterday when they learned that the Chinese have denied them a permit to climb on K2 on the eve of their departure. Now, they are left wondering what they can do to salvage an expedition they have been planning for months.

One of the most interesting expeditions that was set to take place this winter was the attempt to complete the first ascent of K2 from the North Side of the mountain. The very experienced team of Denis Urubko, Adam Bilecki, and Alex Txikon were preparing to depart for China this week with the hopes that they could be in Base Camp shortly after the official start of winter. But yesterday Denis posted an update to his Facebook page sharing the news that they had been denied their permit, and as you can imagine, that was a devastating blow.

With no permit, it is difficult to say what the team will do now. They still have a few days before their flight to try to sort through the bureaucracy that prevented them from getting the permit in the first place, but it is hard to know why the Chinese denied their request to climb from the North Side. Perhaps the expedition can still be salvaged provided the communications from Chinese government is forthcoming with their demands.

The other alternative would be to attempt to jump to the Pakistani side of the mountain, although that doesn't seem likely either. This entire expedition hinged on a specific route that Denis had planned from the North Side. The small team was hoping to climb along a new route that would potentially shield them from some of the worst weather that K2 will throw at them in the weeks ahead. The trio of climbers was not training or preparing for the more exposed route along the "normal" path to the summit in Pakistan, which of course has not yielded much success during the winter in the past.

For now, we'll have to just wait to see what will happen. Clearly the team is heartbroken by this news, but hopefully they'll still be able to get something organized for this winter. Time is running short however, and the Chinese bureaucrats are not well known for being flexible. I'll post an update as soon as we know more.

Meanwhile, elsewhere teams are preparing to travel to Nanga Parbat for the first winter ascent of that mountain as well. Expect updates soon. And of course, Lonnie Dupre is already in Alaska, and waiting for the weather to clear so he can travel to Denali in preparation for his attempt at a January ascent of that mountain. The season is just about to really get going, so expect more updates soon.

ExWeb Interviews Denis Urubko on Winter K2 Climb

Last week, Explorers Web posted an interesting interview with Denis Urubko, one of the climbers heading to K2 to attempt a winter ascent of that mountain. As you probably already know, K2 and Nanga Parbat are the only 8000 meter peaks that remain unclimbed during the winter, and this year, both peaks will see ambitious teams attempting to summit them once again. Urubko will lead an all-star squad of mountaineers to K2, where they'll attempt the North Face of the mountain from the Chinese side. Joining him will be Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon, two very experienced climbers, as well as Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew.

In the interview, Denis discusses why they chose this route – he feels it offers better protection from the elements – and what conditions he expects to find there during the winter. There has been some discussion that this side of the mountain will be darker and colder than the South Side, but Denis disputes that, saying that they'll be climbing along a route that faces to the east, which should providing good morning sun, and when they climb out of the mountain's shadow they'll find plenty of light to help guide them on their way. He also says that while he expects the mountain to protect them from the harshest of weather conditions, they anticipate they could face -50ºC/-58ºF temperatures and 100 km/h (62 mph) winds. They hope to go to the summit when temperatures are at -40ºC/F, and with winds in a more manageable 50 km/h (31 mph).

Other portions of the interview touch on snow conditions on K2 during the winter, obstacles that the team will face on the route, and their approach to fixing ropes versus just climbing as light as possible. The team hopes to use snow caves at higher altitudes for their camps, and as shelter from the weather, and they plan on making an alpine style push once they are acclimatized and the conditions are right.

As you can imagine, Denis also touches on some important aspects of the climb that he is most concerned about as well, including an icefall that looks like it could be a very dangerous section of the climb, as well as knife edge ridge at 7500 meters (24,606 ft), and a rockfall at 8000 meters (26,246 ft) right below he summit. If the team hopes to reach the top, they'll need to overcome those challenges along the way.

The team will leave for China in just a couple of weeks, and will begin their winter attempt on the toughest mountain on the planet not long after that. I will, of course, be following this expedition very closely in the weeks ahead.

Winter Mountaineering 2014: K2 and Nanga Parbat Take Center Stage

Earlier this week we turned out the light on the 2014 fall Himalayan climbing season by wrapping up the last couple of expeditions that were still ongoing. Now, there will be a bit of a respite on the big mountains, while most of the attention turns to the spring climbing season on Everest. But before that occurs, the winter climbing season awaits, and in just over a month's time, teams will begin heading to some of the most difficult peaks on the planet in an attempt to summit during the coldest, most demanding season of all.

As of now, there are just two 8000 meter peaks that remain unclimbed in winter, They are K2 and Nanga Parbat. This winter, teams have targeted both peaks in an attempt to knock off one, or both, of these incredibly difficult mountains.

While most of the winter climbing expeditions are heading to Nanga, the team that we'll be watching the closest will no doubt be on K2. As previously announced, a team consisting of climbing all-stars Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki and Alex Txikon, who will be joined by Artiom Braun and Dmitry Siniew, has set its sights on a new route on the toughest mountain on the planet. The team will climb from the Chinese side of K2, up the North Face, along the Northeast Ridge. According to ExWeb, the squad will depart for the Karakoram on December 16.

Of course, this team has a great deal of experience climbing during the winter. Urubko was part of the team that put up the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum II a few years back, and Bielecki has two first ascents during the season under his belt as well – Gasherbrum I and Broad Peak. They'll need all of that skill, experience, and determination if they hope to reach the summit of K2 in a few months.

Meanwhile, ExWeb is also offering solid details on the plans for Nanga Parbat as well. They claim that Tomek Mackiewicz, Daniele Nardi, Elisabeth Revol and Roberto Delle Monache will all share Base Camp on that mountain, although beyond that point Tomek intends to make a solo summit bid. That will be a bold expedition to follow as well, as he attempts to go up the Mummery Rib. The group is expected to depart for Pakistan on December 20.

According to Russian Climb, Nickolay Totmjanin, Valery Shamalo, Serguey Kondrashkin and Victor Koval are also attempting Nanga this winter. They are planning on setting off for Pakistan on December 22 for their own winter 8000-meter expedition.

Finally, Simone Moro is up to something in the Himalaya this winter, but we're not sure exactly what yet. He has promised his wife he would not attempt K2, so he won't join his friend Denis Urubko on that expedition, and he has also ruled out Nanga Parbat. Apparently, the expedition is still coming together, and he isn't quite ready to reveal plans just yet. Hopefully we'll hear more about what he has in store in the days ahead. As usual with Simone, he generally has some big idea. Perhaps he'll bring his friend Ueli Steck along for the ride as well.

That's all for now. These expeditions will begin to take center stage in about a month, but until then, the mountaineering world will be a bit quiet. It is certainly shaping up to be an interesting winter in the big mountains though. Stay tuned for updates.

Trio of Climbers Announce Winter K2 Attempt

A trio of very experienced climbers has announced their bid to summit the toughest mountain in the world during the coldest, harshest season of them all. Kazakh climber Denis Urubko is joining forces with Polish mountaineer Adam Bielecki and Spaniard Alex Txikon to attempt the North Face of K2 in the winter, as the team attempts to become the first to climb that mountain during that brutally cold time of year. 

Of all of the 8000-meter peaks, just two remain unclimbed during the winter – K2 and Nanga Parbat. Of those, Nanga has seen the most action in recent years, with several teams trying to reach its summit last winter alone. No team has attempted K2 during that season since 2011-2012, when a Russian squad last made the attempt. They abandoned the expedition when a team member named Vitaly Gorelik died in Base Camp after suffering severe frostbite while shuttling gear to the higher camps. He was awaiting evacuation at the time of his death, but due to the extremely poor weather conditions, a rescue was impossible.

Those are the kinds of conditions that Urubko, Bielecki, and Txikon will face on K2 during the winter. The mountain is extremely difficult under the best of conditions, and during the winter months the cold, snow, and winds are unrelenting. The team will need all of their skill and experience – not to mention a healthy dose of luck – if they are to have any hope of reaching the top during the winter. 

Of the three climbers, Urubko has the most experience on 8000-meter peaks in the winter. He teamed with Simone Moro and Cory Richards on Gasherbrum II back in 2011, as they made the first winter ascent of that mountain. Moro and Urubko often climb together, but Simone has promised his wife that he would not attempt K2 after she dreamed that he died on that mountain. 

Bielecki is no stranger to winter climbing however, as he has made two first winter ascents as well. The Polish mountaineer was a member of teams that summited Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I in winter. He also successfully climbed K2 in 2012 during the summer. 

This expedition won't launch for a couple of months yet. The team will probably depart for Pakistan in early December, and arrive on the mountain just as winter officially sets in. We'll have to wait to see what kind of schedule they set for themselves however, as some teams wait until after the holidays to launch their winter climbs. Either way, you can bet that I'll be following along with the action.