Karakoram Summer 2019: Season Winds Down with More Rescues

The summer climbing season in the Karakoram is nearly over and most of the teams are now heading home. In fact, the big expedition pushes on nearly all of the 8000-meter peaks has wrapped up, with the Base Camps on Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, and K2 now deserted. But, there are still a few climbers in the region who are attempting bold routes, including a few on the Gasherbrum Massif. One of those climbers is none other than Denis Urubko, who Explorer’s Web reports has now taken part in three rescues over the course of the past week.

Last week we shared the news of the dramatic rescue of Francesco Cassardo on Gasherbrum VII, which Urubko played a role in helping the Italian climber descend after a ski accident. After that, it seemed the Kazakh-turned-Polish climber was set to attempt a new route on Gasherbrum II, going solo after his wife injured her back on the trek to BC. But, as it turns out, fate would have other ideas in mind.

According to ExWeb, Urubko, along with Sergi Mingote, came to the aid of Lithuanian mountaineer Saulius Damulevicius, who was suffering from HAPE high on the Gasherbrum Glacier. Damulevicius was unable to descend under his own power and his climbing partner Natalia Zenina couldn’t get him down alone. Fortunately, Urubko and Mingote were in Base Camp and were able to lend a hand, helping the sick alpinist to descend safely. Later, he was evacuated by helicopter and is reportedly in stable condition.

The next day however, Urubko and Mingote were pressed into service once again, this time assisting a Pakistani high-altitude porter who ran into difficulty in the an icefall on the Gasherbrum Massif. Once again, they were able to come to the rescue however, helping the porter to get down safely. This was Urubko’s third rescue in a week and his second in two days, making the weekend a very interesting and busy one for him.

There is no question that Urubko is one of the strongest climbers in the world and has the experience and knowledge to lend a hand in these situations. It is unclear whether or not he’ll be able to go back up GII and still pursue his goal of achieving a new route on that mountain. Weather reports indicate that conditions are starting to shift across the region, with bad weather arriving soon. After a large and very stable weather window over the past few weeks, it seems that the summer season is about to come to a rapid end. We’ll see if there is still enough time for Denis to achieve his objectives, but it has been a successful season for him already.

The next few days may reveal a few more stories from the Karakoram, but for the most part things are coming to an end. The season is all but wrapped up and we’ll get a brief respite before the fall mountaineering season begins in the Himalaya. There should be plenty to follow then too however, so expect more updates in the near future.

Kraig Becker

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