Koshar Gang Was Not Easy, Says Urubko; Also, Buried Tents on Manaslu; Some K2 Action

High winds and persistent snow continue to foil progress in Nepal. In Pakistan, a short window has set Grace Tseng’s team on the move. However, they still have a long way to go before a summit push. And in Skardu, Denis Urubko spoke with ExplorersWeb about his recent ascent of Koshar Gang.

‘Difficult after two years away’

Denis Urubko and his Russian partners are celebrating their new route on Koshar Gang. Urubko admits that his comeback to winter climbing “was difficult”.

“It was hard for me after not being in such extreme conditions for two years,” he said. “My legs cramped, my face is destroyed by wind and cold, and I am still recovering from the illness I suffered right before the summit push.”

The successful climbers on their way back from Base Camp two days ago. Photo: Denis Urubko


Urubko also noted that despite its modest altitude (6,046), the climb up Koshar Gang was extremely long. “Base Camp was at 2,350m, so there was a very long way to the top,”  he said.

The team hopes to fly to Islamabad today. If weather grounds the planes, they may proceed by road.

The Russian team spent a night at 4,800m, on a climb that involves a vertical gain of 3,750m. Photo: Denis Urubko

Manaslu’s snow and Everest’s winds

After a short break two days ago, snow bombarded Manaslu again yesterday. The weather has worsened since then. Climbers in Base Camp have had to shovel day and night in order to keep their tents from being engulfed. Alex Txikon spent a sleepless night digging, digging. Oswald Pereira fell asleep, and two hours later, he had to excavate his tent from what he described as a snow apocalypse. The video confirms his colorful description.

“I am just glad we survived,” he said.

Oswald Pereira’s tent after two hours without shoveling. Photo: Oswald Pereira


Things are looking no brighter for Jost Kobusch on Everest. The solo climber moved to Camp 1 yesterday, trusting that its relatively sheltered location — at the base of the icefall leading to the Lho La– would protect him from the pending storm. A violent wind has risen in the last few hours, but so far, he and his tent are handling it. He hopes to remain in C1 (5,715m) as long as possible to avoid losing acclimatization.

Not far away, conditions on the south face of Cho Oyu are, unsurprisingly, no better. Gelje Sherpa’s Base Camp team managed to set up the tents, but fierce winds have caused some damage, and they have lost four oxygen bottles. The climbers themselves hoped to move from Goyko to Base Camp today.

Against the background of Cho Oyu, Gelje Sherpa seeks favor from the mountain gods on a sunny but windy day. Photo: Gelje Sherpa


Movement on K2

Pakistan’s weather is somewhat better.  Grace Tseng’s team took advantage of a forecasted three-day window to fix the route as far up as possible. They might even be able to reach Camp 3 on this rotation. That would entail a huge workload for the Sherpa guides, who will have to fix and supply all the way from Camp 1 up the steep lower slopes, House’s Chimney, and the fearsome Black Pyramid. The team’s climbing leader, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa, will coordinate the work for the rest of the team, all Nepalis plus Pakistani climber Muhammad Sharif.

Grace Tseng and the Dolma Outdoor team in Base Camp, with K2 behind. Photo: Grace Tseng

The expedition shared some pictures and videos taken between Concordia and Base Camp. One video showed Tseng being short-roped through the broken glacier. It has raised some debate about Tseng’s fitness to embark on a winter expedition on K2.

So far, Tseng has focused on cultivating her social media image. Nevertheless, her remarkable ambition and drive have already taken her to the top of five 8,000m peaks. Gyanzen has guided her on all of them. However, unless conditions improve drastically in the next three weeks, their summit chances are minimal.

Is winter K2 too ambitious for Grace Tseng? At least, she is enduring the hardships of an extremely cold Base Camp and is ready to continue. Photo: Grace Tseng