Winter Climbs 2020: Urubko Prepares for Possible Final Summit Bid

In the past few updates from the winter climbing scene we’ve mentioned that the clock is ticking for Denis Urubko, the lone remaining climber on Broad Peak this season. Generally, those references have been to Urubko’s self-imposed end date of March 1, which he sees as the first day of spring. But as it turns out, his expedition may come to an end sooner than that, although he may get one last crack at the summit.

If you’ve been following our updates from the 8000-meter peaks this winter closely, you probably already know that Urubko’s climbing partners—Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa—abandoned Base Camp over the weekend. Last week, while on a summit push, Bowie took ill and had to be escorted back down to BC. Later it was determined that he had pneumonia, which prompted him to make an immediate departure from Broad Peak with a return to Skardu for medical attention. He was evacuated aboard a helicopter, with Hintsa coming along for the ride. This left Urubko to fend for himself, waiting in BC for the next weather window.

As it turns out, that weather window is now expected to arrive on February 16-18, which may provide him with just enough time to launch a summit bid. I say that it might be just enough time, because it was also revealed on Urubko’s Facebook page that the porters will arrive back in Base Camp around that same time, with plans to dismantle BC on February 20. In other words, as of right now, he has just eight days to wrap up the expedition, including nabbing the summit.

Apparently, Denis has decided to stretch his legs some and has gone for a walk back down the valley to Concordia. No doubt, this was to give him something to do while he sits and waits for conditions to improve. At this point, he is fully acclimated and ready to go. It’s just a matter of whether or not the weather will cooperate.

In other news, over on Everest Jost Kobusch has left Base Camp today and is headed up to Camp 1. There is no indication that of what his objectives are for the young German climbers latest foray up the mountain. Most likely he is simply scouting the route and possibly stashing gear at a higher campsite as he works on his acclimatization too. He’ll reportedly spend two or three nights on the West Ridge as he prepares for a potential summit bid at some point. As a reminder, Kobusch is attempting a solo, unsupported, winter ascent of the world’s highest peak, without oxygen no less.

Finally, it appears Alex Txikon and his squad have elected to wait until tomorrow before setting off on their next push up Everest. They’re also looking to make a no-O’s summit, but they are climbing along the standard South Col route, which includes passing through the perilous Khumbu Icefall.

More updates to come soon.

Kraig Becker