Gasherbrum II: Urubko Leaves Soon

The last summit push of the season on the Karakorum 8000’ers, and definitely a grand finale, could lead to the first new line opened this year on one of the 14 great ones, after failed spring attempts on Dhaulagiri, Annapurna and Everest.

As planned, Denis Urubko joined Don Bowie (CAN), Lotta Hintsa (FIN) and Matthew James (US) to Camp 1 today. Conditions permitting, they will part ways here. Tomorrow, while the trio proceed to higher camps along the normal route, Urubko will set off on a non-stop climb up a new line to the 8,034m summit. He intends to climb as fast as possible to the top, then descend down the normal route until he meets up with Bowie’s group.

A “solo” climb?

It is unclear (and perhaps subject to personal criteria) whether Urubko’s can be considered a solo climb. Clearly, he was not completely alone from bottom to top, since he joined a group to Camp 1. On the other hand, the picture below of his new proposed line suggests that Camp 1 is not really on the mountain, but at its foot, on the glacier.

From that perspective, the new route begins slightly beyond the tents — and the other party. In addition, Urubko has acclimatized on Gasherbrum II’s normal route, so the terrain ahead of him is unknown. We’ll see what Urubko’s own assessment is when he returns. There is no doubt, anyway, that his is a remarkable attempt in an elegant, light and unsupported style.

New route planned by Denis Urubko on Gasherbrum II. Photo: Urubko's Facebook

New route planned by Denis Urubko on Gasherbrum II. Photo: Urubko’s Facebook

Gasherbrum II’s normal route shows the location of Camp 1. Photo: Marco Confortola

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Urubko and Bowie used a large part of their rest period to help carry down Italian Francesco Cassardo, who was seriously injured above 6,000m on Gasherbrum VII. The climbing magazine Rock & Ice has described this as a “miracle” rescue. Later, Urubko lent a hand with two more rescues. For this alone, he has played one of the most meritable roles of the present season. Whatever he achieves tomorrow will be pure excellence.