Denis Urubko Clarifies his Winter K2 Rumors

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Denis Urubko made waves recently at Poland’s Ladek Mountain Festival, where he received a prestigious award for his new solo route Honeymoon on Gasherbrum II in 2019. Attending journalists jumped on two magical words he uttered: K2 and Winter.

Updates on social media removed the context; translation issues and eagerness for some good news this year did the rest. In just a few hours, the buzz was that Urubko was putting together an all-star team to attempt K2 — perhaps even this winter. His purported teammates, so went the rumors, would be Rafal Fronia, Marcin Kaczkan and Adam Bielecki — all of them great candidates, and all of them unaware of the supposed expedition.

ExplorersWeb went straight to Denis Urubko, who quickly cleared up the confusion.

“There is no such expedition,” Urubko said. “I am afraid journalists interpreted my words too freely, as usual.” His reference to a possible K2 expedition was his general musing on that project as ideal for his style and long years of preparation. As for Fronia, Bielecki and Kaczkan, he merely referred to them as the climbers he considers most able to summit K2 in winter.

During a lengthy interview with Dreamwanderlust.com, Urubko spoke of no fixed plans, but rather about three dream projects he’d like to undertake, under the right circumstances. In addition to winter K2, he said that he would consider supporting his wife Maria Cardell, if she decided to attempt a new route on an 8,000’er.

Finally he added that he would eventually like to set a record of 27 x 8,000’er summits*. However, Urubko saw such a count as a long-term project, in which he would consider climbing normal routes under standard conditions and maybe even using O2.

Maria Cardell and an upside-down Denis Urubko. Photo: Instagram

So, rumors aside, Denis Urubko’s “retirement” from high-altitude climbing may more flexible than it first seemed. We may well see him in action in the Himalaya in future. But for now, the Kazakh-born climber has done exactly what he promised: He has focused on rock climbing and crag-to-crag travels across Italy with his wife.

*Note: As we understand it, Urubko means to climb more 8,000m peaks than any other person who has summited all 14 at least once. Under such conditions, the present record is held by Juan Oiarzabal of Spain, with 26. Purba Tashi Sherpa has stepped on the summits of 8,000’ers 30 times, mainly Everest, but has not climbed Makalu, Kangchenjunga or any of Pakistan’s 8,000m peaks.

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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27 is meaningless, current record holder has 36 (Kami Rita)