Karakoram Summer 2019: Action Continues on Gasherbrum II

The climbing season in Pakistan isn’t quite over yet. As we noted yesterday, there are a number of climbers still on Gasherbrum II and looking to bag the summit on that mountain. For now, the weather remains clam and clear, which is allowing access to the top, even as the end of summer starts to loom. But before the curtain falls, there is at least one more big climb to keep an eye on as Denis Urubko looks to complete his new line over the next day or two.

According to ExWeb, Urubko hiked up to Camp 1 yesterday, joining Canadian Don Bowie, Lotta Hintsa of Finland, and American climber Matt Randall for that stage of the ascent. The group will go their separate ways there however, as Bowie and company head up GII along the standard line. Meanwhile, Urubko is expected to go his own way along a new route, completely alone for his push to the top of the 8034-meter (26,358 ft) peak.

The details of the new route are a bit sparse, but we do know that it begins just above Camp 1 and continues on all the way to the summit. Much of the terrain has been scouted, but is largely unknown, which means it could take Urubko a few days to complete. As one of the strongest climbers in the world, he’ll be able to move at a fairly swift pace however. Especially since he is looking to climb fast and light, without anyone else to slow him down. Still, not knowing exactly what the new route has in store for him, it could be several days before we get an update on his progress, which will likely indicate success or failure. Denis is not one to share much information on social media or post dispatches from the climb, but we should know more in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, The Himalayan Times is reporting that Mingma Gyalje Sherpa reached the top of Gasherbrum II on July 25, topping out on his 12th 8000-meter peak in the process. As usual, he summited without the use of supplemental oxygen. He wasn’t alone on that climb either, as his company Imagine Nepal escorted nine others to the top, including Vernon Edward Tejas, Naoki Ishikhawa, Hari Thomas Mix, Tamting Sherpa, Thundu Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Kami Temba Sherpa and Passang Namgel Sherpa.

Mingma Gyalje says that he has plans to summit his two remaining 8000-meter peaks next year, knocking off both Everest and Shishapangma without bottled Os. He’s been up Everest before, but has used oxygen each time, so now he’s looking to close out these last two climbs. He has also summited K2 twice in the past, giving him one impressive resume to say the least.

Stay tuned for further updates from Pakistan. There are just a handful of climbers still on the mountain, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on their progress.

Kraig Becker