Interview: Denis Urubko describes the current conditions on K2

Denis Urubko gives a quick interview, describing the current weather conditions on K2 and the team’s progress establishing Camp 3.

The winter K2 expedition has made excellent headway, despite the dramatic rescue operation conducted on Nanga Parbat. Denis Urubko chatted to our friends over at Russian Climb about weather conditions, positioning Camp 3, and how the team is communicating.

Q: On which side of K2 has the winter climb been more difficult for you, on the North ridge in 2003, or now?

It was certainly more difficult from the North. This year there is a very well equipped Base Camp, so we can recover in comfortable conditions. I have already made nine pushes up K2’s slopes, not counting the extreme push up Nanga Parbat, and I still feel strong.

Q: You had to climb in very strong winds on Shishapangma and Makalu. Would you like to compare those with the winds on K2?

Climb in a very strong wind? You would be better off saying I flew! Here on K2 I haven’t encountered such a terrible wind. It’s possible to work here.

Q: Did you manage to set up Camp 3 with a little bit of protection from the wind?

We reached the ice plateau too late, so we had to put the tent up in the first place we could find. But we dug a hole and set the tent into it as far as possible, so we were protected from the wind. On Feb 21st a real hurricane hit the mountain, but in our camp we felt calm. Before we began the descent, we put all the bivouac equipment in a hole, and have buried it well. We’re planning to move Camp 3 from 7,200m to 7,300m, where there will be less danger from avalanches. Here we can put the tent under the serac, to be protected from the wind.

Q: Would you climb House’s Chimney from scratch if there were no old ropes or the ladder?

Yeah. It’s interesting to both Adam and I. We have enough technical winter climbing practice. I am sure that we would have coped with the task.

Q: Did you have a satellite phone with you? Or only the radio and GPS? Had you seen, or been sent, the forecast?

No. Forecasts were only available in the Base Camp. Adam had some kind of GPS, but I do not care for these. On the route everybody has his own radio. Usually guys tune their radio in to be in constant contact. I, on the contrary, turn it on from time to time to transmit specific information to the Base Camp.

Q: How did you feel once you were above 7,000m? Did you manage much sleep at 7,200m?

The first night was comfortable. Even Adam with his weak acclimatization was fine. On the second night I had a moment of inspiration regarding how to warm my feet, but there was a strong snow storm, so we could not open our single-layer tent for the ventilation, therefore there wasn’t enough oxygen. Adam has everything powered by batteries, plus a number of different chemical heaters, so he won’t freeze. But it’s hard for him in the tent, with his large frame in such a small area, because I’m lying on the edge, pressing him towards the other side.

Thanks to Elena Laletina of Russian Climb for the translation.

Previous / Links:

Winter K2: Urubko scouts the Eastern Face, sets up Camp 2

Winter K2: Bielecki hit by a rock; Urubko back in action

Nanga Parbat: Happy and Unhappy End

Interview: Denis Urubko on Winter K2

Russian Climb