Update: Urubko Survives, Txikon Regroups After One Man Down

Denis Urubko didn’t summit Broad Peak. His expedition is over, but at least he is safely back in Base Camp. Everything else is slightly confusing, since his short SMS was garbled, in broken English and subject to interpretation. His partner, María Cardell, shared more news from him with some foreign media, whose editors translated it into Russian or Italian. Eventually, it’s rendered back into English. Whew! The general message was: “I am [back] in Base Camp. No summit, but survived despite some incidents [or accidents].”

Satellite SMS usually takes a while to make it through, and later, a followup text from Urubko stated: “Wind was 70-80km at the top. An avalanche slid me for 100m, then I fell down with a broken fixed rope for 50m, not into a crevasse, fortunately. I fought despite everything. Is enough!”

It is unclear whether the avalanche snapped a fixed rope or swept the climber downslope and then the rope snapped, or whether he or the avalanche fell 50 or 100m… In the end, though, it must have been a hellish experience. Surviving such a harrowing day takes both luck and being darn good at climbing. In some ways, those broken bits of story stoke our imaginations and let us feel part of the adventure, with all its ragged edges and loose strings.

Alex Txikon and team leave Everest Base Camp for Camp 2 early Saturday morning. Photo: @diegomartinezph


Things are likewise far from easy on Everest. Alex Txikon’s climbing mate, Oscar Cardo, became ill with Acute Mountain Sickness and worsened rapidly on the way to Camp 2 on Saturday. Txikon watched over him through the night, and in the morning, a helicopter managed to evacuate Cardo from Camp 2.

“I had to make a difficult decision,” explained Txikon, “either have Oscar spend the night in Camp 2, increasingly sick with AMS, or try to get him through the Icefall, rappelling among seracs and crevasses, and risk an open bivouac in the dead of winter.”

Cardo is now safe in a Kathmandu hospital, while Txikon ponders his options with remaining partners Nurbu Sherpa, Geljen Lama and Pechhumbe Sherpa.

“We have food and a solar panel, so we can remain up the mountain for days,” he said earlier today. “Tomorrow we’ll go for the Lhotse Wall. If we manage to reach the Yellow Band (7,600m), we will be ready for a summit push.”

First, however, the wind will need to die down, since last time the team tried to reach Camp 3, they were driven back by rocks falling constantly down the West Face of Lhotse.

Jost Kobusch at Camp 1 on the Lho La. Photo: @terragraphy


Finally, Jost Kobusch has not progressed far but nor is he ready to surrender. As he returned to Camp 1 on Saturday afternoon, he tried to spot an alternate route up the West Ridge: “It is possible, but sexy is something else,” he said. “I saw a lot of hard blue ice, in a terrain where every mistake is fatal. There must be a better option — but to see Everest from up there is very moving and motivating.”