Urubko on his “Honeymoon”

When Denis Urubko reached Skardu after forging a new route up Gasherbrum II, he spoke briefly with Anna Piunova, editor of the Russian-language website, mountain.ru. Below, an edited translation of that interview, reproduced with permission.

Urubko’s new route, Honeymoon (red line). The green lines indicate both the normal route and others less commonly taken. See below. Photo: mountain.ru

Photo: Gripped magazine

Everything about this trip went wrong at first. You planned to climb together, but Masha [his partner, Maria Cardell] got hurt. Conditions on the mountain were less than ideal, yet you still went solo. How did you manage it? Specifically, how did you motivate yourself?

Every project has its surprises and troubles. I’ve learned how to get things done, no matter what. Control the mistakes of others, avoid your own. So despite the problems, I managed to keep the fire alive. Through this goal, I really just wanted to realize my idea of ​​freedom. It’s like an artist drawing a single beautiful stroke about which he’s dreamed for years. Yes, it would push me to the limits of my strength, but that’s what makes mountaineering valuable. I won’t back down when it is possible to realize a dream.

En route to Camp 1. Photo: Denis Urubko/mountain.ru

You did this without communication or O2, solo, in your classic Urubko style. How much time did you plan for the ascent?

Originally, Maria and I planned three to five days. But going solo has certain advantages. I could go non-stop, full blast.

“I tried to work in the center of the pyramid along as direct a route as possible. I crossed the first small bergschrund (6,050 m) at the foot of the wall, then moved up ice and firn, past seracs and avalanche-prone slopes. A kilometre drop lay beneath my feet. I reached the top at 20:40. The effort exhausted me.”

Further on, a rocky outcrop of about 100m, then a towering serac above, under which Urubko traversed to the left, eventually reaching a broad plateau. Photo: Denis Urubko/mountain.ru

Added Anna Piunova: “Denis named his route Honeymoon. No woman has yet done an alpine-style new route to the top of an 8,000m peak. This was their dream. Hopefully it’s still in their future.”