Karakoram Summer 2019: Urubko on the Move, Sherpas Grab More Summits

Most of the climbing teams may have now left the mountains in Pakistan and are making their way home, but Gasherbrum II remains a hot spot for climbing at the moment. There are several teams still on the mountain, with at least one summit push now underway. The success of those efforts will be determined over the course of the next day or two, as weather conditions and the danger of avalanche come into play.

The most interesting of these last-minute expeditions is the attempt by Polish/Kazakh climber Denis Urubko. According to ExWeb his launched his summit push from Camp 1 on GII earlier today and now plans to climb nonstop all the way to the summit. To make things even more challenging, Urubko is attempting a completely new line and is traveling in a fast and light fashion. This news comes despite the fact that climbers are now reporting increased avalanche danger on the upper slopes of the peak, which could make the final push extremely difficult of impossible.

Also in Camp 1 on Gasherbrum II is Canadian Don Bowie and his team. ExWeb says that they are currently evaluating their plans and assessing the risks from avalanche as well. If they deem the conditions to be safe enough, the’ll set out later today or tomorrow, heading up in a more traditional fashion along the a more established route. Urubko hopes to summit, then link up with Bowie and company for the descent back to Base Camp.

In other news, three Sherpas have inched closer to achieving an impressive mark in the arena of high-altitude mountaineering. The Himalayan Times reports that Mingma David Sherpa, Sanu Sherpa, and Chheji Sherpa all successfully climbed peaks in Pakistan this summer to bring the total number of 8000-meter mountains that each of them has climbed to 13. In the case of Mingma David, those mountains included Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II, K2 and Broad Peak as he climbed alongside Nirmal Purja throughout the summer. He also summited Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, and Kangchenjunga in the spring, bringing his total to eight over the span of just three months. He only has to climb Shishpangma in Tibet to add his name to the list of climbers who have summited all of the big peaks.

Sanu and Chheji both summited Gasherbrum I and II this summer as part of an international expedition for Seven Summit Treks. Both are looking to complete the eight-thousander list this fall, with Sanu setting his sights on Shishpangma, while his climbing partner attempts Dhaulagiri.

Finally, Stephen Nestler has interviewed Austrian climber Hans Wenzl about his recent summit of K2. Wenzl, who is a construction worker by trade, was part of the commercial team that topped out on the world’s second highest peak last Thursday, reach the summit without the use of bottled oxygen. He has previously climbed Broad Peak, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I and II, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Mount Everest. In the interview he talks about what conditions were like on summit day, how Everest and K2 differ, and his plans for the future.

That’s all for today. More updates from Gasherbrum II as we get them.

Kraig Becker