Russian Duo to Attempt Gasherbrum IV; Urubko’s Last Chance on G1

“Start” is the only word Denis Urubko wrote yesterday on Instagram. He illustrated it with a picture of his wife, Pipi Cardell, staring at the Karakoram. Out of time and with the weather against them, it’s now or never for their alpine-style route up Gasherbrum I.

A hurried summit push

The pair left Base Camp yesterday on an ultralight attempt on this new line. Three days ago, their tentative beginning ended prematurely when a good-weather forecast proved wrong. They had to retreat as heavy snow flew around them, Cardell told Desnivel.

They apparently need to start trekking out tomorrow, August 5. So their only climbing option was to leave Base Camp yesterday at 6 pm, reach the beginning of the new route at sunrise, speed to the top today — they should be there by now, if all went well —  then hurry all the way back down, non-stop.

Cardel,l's shadow stands on a rocky outcrop, staring at the Karakoram peaks in front of her.

Pipi Cardell stares at the Karakoram. Photo: Denis Urubko


The last commercial climbers, some without sherpa support or without bottled oxygen, summited the Gasherbrums on July 27. But for whatever reason, Urubko and Cardell didn’t find the weather or the conditions right for them at that time.

Company coming

They will not be alone when they return to Base Camp tomorrow. Another climbing pair has arrived to attempt one of the most interesting projects of the season — a new route up the south side of Gasherbrum IV. Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov checked in with ExplorersWeb today from the nearby Trango Towers area, which they know well.

“We are one day away from Base Camp,” Golovchenko said. “We climbed No Fear [on Nameless Tower] in 2011.”

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.