The winter climbing season in the big mountains is officially underway. Explorers Web is reporting that Kazakh/Polish climber Denis Urubko, along with teammates Don Bowie of Canada and Lotta Hintsa of Finland have not only arrived in Pakistan, they’ve wasted no time in heading out to Skardu as well. The trio has its sites on Broad Peak this winter, while also leaving the door open for a possible attempt on K2 as well.
According to ExWeb the trio gathered in Islamabad last Thursday and set off for Skardu the very next day. Depending on their state of readiness, gear organization, and preparation, they may already have left that city for Askole, where the trek to Base Camp begins. That seems highly likely considering Urubko’s famous interpretation of winter. He counts the season as starting at the beginning of December and running to the first of March, which means that two weeks have already passed before they’ve even arrived on the mountain. Most other mountaineers believe winter starts on December 21 and runs through March 20, which is more in line with what the calendar tell us. Schedules are often set to match those dates.
Urubko, who is famously tight lipped about his expeditions and plans, had indicated that his primary goal this season is to summit Broad Peak in winter. That said, he also has a permit to climb K2 as well. If successful on BP, it is possible the team will jump over to nearby K2 Base Camp and give that mountain a go, having first acclimatized on the neighboring peak. That sounds like a tall order, considering the world’s second highest mountain remains unclimbed during winter, but Urubko and Bowie are two very strong climbers, so it’ll be interesting to follow their progress this winter.
The other team scheduled to head to K2 this winter consists of climbers Mingma G, Jon Snorri, Gao Li, Sirbaz Khan, and Tamting and Kilu Pemba. But that group has hit a fund raising snag and has postponed the trip until January. It is unclear whether or not they’ll actually be in Pakistan at all this winter. That could mean that no teams will be on K2 this year after all, although we’ll just have to wait to see how things play out.
Other big expeditions this winter include Alex Txikon’s attempt to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen, Jost Kobusch’s solo attempt on Everest, and Simone Moro and Tamara Lunger attempting the Gasherbrum Traverse as well. We’ll be watching each of these expeditions closely and providing updates as the news warrants it. Stay tuned for what is sure to be a busy start to 2020.
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