Gasherbrum II: Urubko Situation Updated

As morning nears in Pakistan, there is still no news from Denis Urubko. “We’re here at C1 waiting for Denis,” Lotta Hintsa reported to Arlene, a member of Don Bowie’s support team. “He left last night at 7pm. [When he returns,] we’ll all leave at the same time to BC.”

Don Bowie reported slush all the way to Camp 1 and says that he has never seen the glacier in such bad condition. “The crevasses were really bad,” he said. He added that on this part of the climb there were no fixed ropes, so likely there are none above, either. There were so many huge avalanches, Bowie said, that they decided that it was unsafe to continue. It wasn’t getting cold enough during the night for the slopes to settle.

It is unknown whether Urubko’s new line may be less exposed to danger. According to brief Facebook posts, Urubko studied the route and deemed it worth a try. Upon topping-out, his plan was to descend via the normal route until Camp 1, at the foot of the mountain.

American Matthew James planned to climb Gasherbrum II and ski all the way down. Photo: Matt Gorbett

It is also possible that Urubko stopped to rest on his way down.

Matthew James from the Climbing for Casualties team last spotted Urubko above 7,000m. James hoped to launch a summit push on Gasherbrum II’s normal route, then ski down. But the avalanche risk scuttled his plans, and he remains in Camp 1.

There is still no cause for concern about Urubko, but in the era of SPOT devices, live GPS feeds and satphones, we are no longer used to waiting patiently for news.

Denis Urubko already summited Gasherbrum II via the normal route last week, as an acclimatization climb.