Poles Postpone Winter K2 Expedition; Rumors Fly

Yesterday, the Polish expedition to winter K2 was postponed until 2020-21. Following this official announcement was a totally unofficial –- yet highly entertaining –- flurry of online rumors, comments, assessments and bets.

Why the postponement? It seems that some of the best climbers in the program are recovering from injuries while others are still “too green” for such a mammoth challenge. Team chief Piotr Tomala notes that their goal is to actually bag the summit rather than just make it to Base Camp. He believes that they need one more year to train a suitable team.

What Tomala did not mention is whether the presence or absence of Kazakh superstar Denis Urubko has been a factor. Urubko obtained Polish nationality right before the team’s previous attempt two winters ago, but then clashed with the expedition’s leadership and tactics. The quarrel ended up with Urubko launching a solo bid, then calling it off, returning to Base Camp and abandoning the expedition.

Denis Urubko: No word today on where he stands.


On one hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if either Tomala refused to have this problem child back, or whether Urubko himself was unwilling to join the Poles again after all the controversy and ill feelings. On the other hand, he remains one of the best potential climbers for such a project and has indicated that he wants to return to winter K2.

The gossip reached fever pitch earlier today when it seemed that Urubko was about to make an announcement. He eventually defused the rumors on social media by strongly denying that he had anything to say.

Alex Txikon on winter K2

Alex Txikon’s team launched a summit bid on winter K2 two months ago.


With the Poles out of the picture for this coming winter, other veteran players may step up. Alex Txikon recently told ExplorersWeb that he was willing to give this last unsummited winter 8,000’er another try. Asked about Urubko and Simone Moro, Txikon explained that both of them favored a fast, light ascent, while he was sure that a heavier, classical approach was the only way to succeed on winter K2. As for the Russian-Kazakh-Kyrgyz team that clashed with Txikon in K2 Base Camp earlier this year, ExplorersWeb sent them a list of questions some time ago, which included whether they were considering a return of their own. An answer is still expected from leader Vassily Pivtsov.

Related articles:

Alex Txikon on winter K2’s Troubled Base Camp

Txikon on What Really Happened to Nardi and Ballard

Denis Urubko: I’m Going Back to Winter K2

Urubko: K2 Teams Have No Chance