Urubko Returns with a New Route on Pakistan’s Koshar Gang

Denis Urubko has returned to high-altitude mountaineering in grand style. Yesterday, he and Russian teammates Anton Kravchenko, Andrew Shlyapnikov, and Max Berngard sent a new variation route on Koshar Gang.

The peak is “only” 6,046m and sees regular summer action, thanks to its short approach from Skardu and straightforward normal route. However, it had never been climbed in winter, and nothing in the winter Karakoram comes for free.

The route of Denis Urubko’s team. Here, Kosar Gang is written ‘Koser Gunge’.


Standard route too dangerous in winter

The new variation leaves the standard ascent line soon after the high camp (4,800m) and traverses the flank of the mountain. As Urubko explained on social media, they chose the new line because the standard route was “too icy and avalanche-prone in winter”. They called their new route Russkiy Moroz (Russian Frost).


Traversing the mountain’s flank. Photo: Denis Urubko


Urubko and his partners were looking for a short expedition and so chose Koshar Gang, which is just one day from Skardu. From Skardu, the team spent two days acclimatizing near Base Camp. They then launched a summit push as soon as Urubko recovered from a bout of illness last weekend. The weather was far from stable. “[It was] the worst day of the expedition,” he told RussianClimb after the four had safely returned to Base Camp.

Interestingly, the other climbers currently in the Karakoram — Grace Tseng’s team on K2 — remained in Base Camp because of similar bad weather. Only today did conditions improve enough for them to move again toward Camp 1.

Low visibility didn’t stop Urubko and his partners. Photo: Denis Urubko


Coincidentally, Urubko stood atop this peak 11 years to the day after his previous first winter ascent of an 8,000’er. On February 2, 2011, he summited Gasherbrum II with Simone Moro and Cory Richards. Their climb featured stormy weather and a nerve-wracking descent in which they almost died in a massive avalanche. The documentary below reminds us of that epic.