Broad Peak: Urubko Goes It Alone

Denis Urubko, the last man on winter Broad Peak. Photo: Don Bowie

Laid low by pneumonia, an ailing Don Bowie flew back by helicopter to Skardu yesterday with Lotta Hintsa. Denis Urubko has chosen to stay and attempt Broad Peak alone!

The route is fixed up to 7,500 meters, securing crevassed areas and the bullet-hard lower ice slopes. In addition, he has more than two weeks before meteorological winter finishes at the end of February. For Urubko, who soloed Gasherbrum II in a blazingly fast 48 hours last summer, this is plenty of time for a crumb of good weather to give him a sporting chance to succeed.

Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa leave Broad Peak BC.

Although high winds and storms are forecast over the next 12 days, the weather can shift suddenly in the Karakorum. In fact, the climbers reached their highest point precisely during one of those unexpected windows. Moreover, according to MeteoExploration, conditions are actually good today, tomorrow and Tuesday morning.

If anyone can solo Broad Peak in winter, it’s Denis Urubko. However, the risks are enormous: Urubko is not only the last man on Broad Peak (except for a small BC crew) but in the entire Baltoro area. No one is near if help is required.

When Urubko sacrificed a perfect summit day to help his sick partner down, he further demonstrated the unselfishness and human values that he has shown throughout his stellar career. As noted by RussianClimb, exactly 17 years ago, Urubko gave up a unique chance to summit winter K2 — he was already at 7,750m — in order to help a sick Marcin Kaczkan down during an epic descent.

Meanwhile, Don Bowie’s Instagram post below details the lung infection that forced him to abort their summit bid and quit the expedition.

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

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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4 Comments on "Broad Peak: Urubko Goes It Alone"

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Hope The Last Man Standing on summit will be the one and only Denis Urubko. All the best


Not the only part in the K. The Poles too.


Good update Angela thank you that. I have been following mountaineering for the last couple of years and i had good hopes for the K2 winterexpedition. To bad the team was not fully prepared. I also read Denis ran into trouble, meaning crevasses, around 7500 meters on broad peak. I understand winter climbs are substantially different to summer climbs in the Karakorum but that is mostly due to the weather i assume, but except the weather, how come these crevasses on that altitude are so different from the summer?