Denis Urubko Returns to Winter Climbing

Denis Urubko is on his way to Pakistan for a winter climb on Khosar Gang (6,046m). “It’s only a trekking peak. I am going to climb with three friends from Russia,” he told ExplorersWeb, almost apologetically. “We’re climbing the classic route, it’s not difficult, although it will depend on the weather and conditions, of course.”

This is not a commercial expedition. Urubko knows his Russian teammates, Anton Kravchenko, Andrew Shlyapnikov, and Max Berngard, from climbing Elbrus in winter via a new route a few years ago. Since then, they have done some 7,000’ers together, always in winter.

Russian Climb report that the expedition will start next week.

Khosar Gang is a popular peak because of its short approach from Skardu and its straightforward climb on the normal route. Two years ago, Urubko planned to lead a commercial group on the peak in summer. The work would fund a teaching project for local climbers, but the COVID pandemic halted the project.

The first step towards 8,000’ers

Humble as it is, Urubko admits that this short taste of the Karakoram winter is the first step toward returning to 8,000ers.

Koshar Gang (6,040m). Photo: Denis Urubko


“As I did nothing in the mountains for two years, it is important to recover step by step. I know the rules,” he said.

Urubko has already changed his training and diet. He is determined to return to alpinism after two years focused on rock climbing, and restricted by COVID.

“I would like to try to beat Juanito Oiarzabal’s record of 26 8,000m summits… but combining the goal with some other options,” Urubko explained. “As for rock-climbing, it will not be my priority, but I hope I’ll be able to keep at an average level while I prepare for harder activities.”

Happy to be included

Finally, he shared his surprise to see himself included in ExplorersWeb’s piece 100 Great Explorers of the Last 100 years:

“I am very honored to be in the ‘team’ of such explorers. I am proud to get recognition for my efforts… But of course, I climbed with very strong friends and partners, the successes achieved were thanks to them too. I’m proud to feel a brotherhood with Boris Dedeshko, Ueli Steck, Sergey Samoilov, Maria Jose Cardell, the Pakistani pilots, and many others.”

Denis Urubko receives a Piolet d’Or with Borish Dedeshko after their new route on Cho Oyu’s South Face. Photo: UK Climbing


“I am proud to be in the row of such great explorers as Thor Heyerdahl, Chris Bonington, Vladimir Arsentiev, Reinhold Messner, Jacques Custeau, Eric Shipton, Youri Gagarin, Jerzy Kukuczka, and all the others. Many of them inspired my personal desire for the blade of attack. I will try to be worthy of such a level during my next steps.”

However, Urubko felt that the list was missing a name: “To be honest, I am sad I couldn’t find Krzysztof Wielicki. Even if I have had personal issues with him, Wielicki is a very strong athlete and a good adventurer!”