Alpinist Denis Urubko on Climbing K2 in Winter

K2 Nordseite

Yesterday I posted a look ahead at some big climbing expeditions slated to take place in the upcoming winter season. Chief amongst them will be a team of Polish mountaineers who will be attempting the first ascent of K2 in winter. That massive peak – the second highest in the world – is the only 8000-meter mountain to be unclimbed during the harshest, most difficult season of all, and it is highly likely that it could remain that way for years to come. That said, the Poles will give it a go, and we’ll be following their progress closely.

In preparation for that upcoming expedition, Explorers Web has posted an interview with Russian (now Polish!) mountaineer Denis Urubko, who has attempted K2 during the winter in the past. After spending long weeks battling that mountain, there are few who know it better – particularly in the winter. He has also spent plenty of time on other big peaks, summiting many without the use of bottled oxygen. Urubko even has his own personal take on what constitutes “winter.”

In this interview, which first appeared on Alpinismonline, Urubko talks about why more winter climbers come from Russia and Poland, shares his thoughts on an upcoming winter expedition to Everest, and discusses the trend of commercializing the 8000-meter peaks. He also talks about what it means to climb in true alpine style and his preparation and training for winter climbs. Of course, he also touches on K2 and the challenges that it presents, as well as much more.

One of the more interesting aspects of the interview is that Urubko doesn’t believe that K2 is the last 8000-meter peak to be climbed in winter. He thinks that winter should be measured by “climate factors” rather than an astronomical calendar, which means that in his mind the winter in the Himalaya and Karakoram actually runs from December 21 through February 28. By those standards, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum I remain unsummited in winter as well, as both were climbed in early March.

The interview also confirms that Urubko will be on the Polish team heading to K2 this winter as well, which means the squad will benefit from his experience on the mountain.

Kraig Becker

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