“Honeymoon” by Denis Urubko at Gasherbrum II – details of the passage


Last Friday we reported on the success of Denis Urubko at Gasherbrum II . The lack of direct contact with the mountaineer made the published information quite laconic. Due to his rank, Denis’s feat deserves a broader description.


No information and Pipi accident

We had to wait for detailed information about Denis’s solo transition to Gasherbrum II because of the situation that happened to Maria “Pipi” Cardell at the beginning of the expedition. Pipi fell unlucky during the approach to the base near Gasherbrum, injured. The alpinist initially accompanied Denis during the acclimatization entry by a normal route, but severe pain forced her to turn back from camp 2 (Denis continued climbing to reach the summit on July 18 – he was accompanied by Janusz Adamski and Jarosław Zdanowicz , who climbed independently without oxygen) ).

Denis Urubko and Janusz Adamski at the GII summit (photo: FB Polish Alpine Club)

Because the insurance company required prepayment for the transport of Maria Cardell by helicopter, and the mountaineers did not have sufficient funds ($ 17,000), Pipi had no choice but to go to Askole on its own. However, she decided to wait at the base, giving her partner time to perform the test.

After Denis’s success and return to base, the mountaineers began trekking back without revealing too much information about the climbing itself and the newly formed road.

Honey Moon , or Denis Urubko on a new route to Gasherbrum II

Denis Urubko and Maria “Pipi” Cardell (photo: Denis Urubko)

The message from Denis after leaving Gasherbrum II was:

Thank you for your support. We go down the valley. I am pleased with the passage of a beautiful new road – Honey Moon , but also finished with a 24-hour, risky and passionate action. I come back to life with Pipi [Pipi is also Denis’s life partner – editor].

Urubko set out from the camp on the evening of July 31 (around 20:40 he crossed the marginal crevice of the glacier at the base of the wall), deciding to climb despite the best conditions. At the same time, the Don Bowie – Lotta Hints – Matthew James team abandoned their plans to enter the GII by normal means. Denis, however, rated his line as relatively safe.

The mountaineers had their last eye contact with Denis in the valley in the afternoon of August 1, when Urubko was at an altitude above 7000 m. Later it became dark. That night the temperatures were relatively high, the snow did not freeze – it did not bind. All observers, however, unanimously suppressed their fears.

The mountaineer reached the summit on August 1 at 20:40. Due to the darkness and bad weather, after 10 minutes, he started returning normally.

Denis Urubko at the summit of Gasherbrum II after lonely crossing the new road “Honey Moon” (photo DU / mountain.ru)

He returned to camp 1 on August 2, after about 42 hours of operation. The section between base and camp 1 (both up and down) was covered in the company of mountaineers (including Don Bowie), recognizing that the passage of a heavily sealed glacier area without protection is an unnecessary risk.

Denis Urubko after returning to Skard (photo: FB Anna Piunova)

Road Mileage

Approximate route of the “Honey Moon” road – red line (photo mountain.ru)

In the lower part of the mountain, the road goes far to the left of the classic road (the routes of the first conquerors from 1956), to later change to the huge plateau leading to the peak pyramid from the west. There are two roads running along the edges of the wall (the Poles road from 1975 on the left, the Carlos Carsolio road from 1995 on the right) and a road traverse the top pyramid / variant of Adam Bielecki and Felix Berg from last year . While climbing this wall, Urubko tried to keep as straight a line as possible running through the center of the pyramid.

In the interview Denis gave mountain.ru, we read about performance difficulties and difficult snow / weather conditions, but Denis does not mention technical difficulties.

Unique style

It seems that more important than climbing itself is the style in which Denis did it. Alone and non-stop (the whole action lasted about 42 hours), i.e. without camping. The fact that “without oxygen” is clear to most of us – Urubko obviously does not recognize this type of help (as well as electric heaters).

Urubko also tried to “slim down” his backpack as much as possible. He did not take camping gear, too much extra clothing, nor water or a snow melter. He did not have with him equipment providing connectivity or GPS transmitter. The lack of these last items of equipment can be viewed in two ways – as an additional feat that increases risk or irresponsible behavior.

Krzysztof Wielicki comments on Denis’s feat and rigorous approach:

He chopped himself and going non-stop – chapeau bass is a very nice transition. The fact that he climbed a new route is of secondary importance to me – the solo entry to the eight-thousanders, in non-stop mode is a feat, regardless of whether the new or existing road. These roads are quite similar after all. On Gasherbrum II there are also many previously made variants nearby. But of course, the fact that he was walking through unknown terrain further increases the rank of the feat. And the fact that without water – I like it the most (laughs), it’s a full classic.

Of course, I’m just laughing because Denis is a bit of an orthodox, but I like his approach to many issues. And he can afford such transitions, I saw him in the mountains, in general, efficiency is about

I do not understand, however, that he does not take a radio, telephone or GPS transmitter. Is this heroism? Does the road become more difficult because of this, and when you have a radio easier? It seems to me unnecessary and irresponsible. If something bad happened to him, people would go looking for him. He would expose them to additional danger. On the radio, you can tell how you feel or your leg is broken, where you are – that’s the basis. So just as I praise him for this transition, I do not support the lack of equipment to connect to the base.

Rescue operations

Denis Urubko as Dr House (photo: FB Denis Urubko)

During his trip, Denis Urubko assisted three other mountaineers in the Gasherbrum group three times. Together with two Poles Janusz Adamski, Jarek Zdanowicz and Don Bowie he rescued Francesco Cassardo , and together with Sergei Mignot went to help Lithuanian Saulius Damulevicius , and later in the company of Mignot and other climbers he helped a mountaineer from Pakistan.

According to L’Eco di Bergamo, Denis Urubko is to be awarded the important Italian honorary medal – Medaglia d’Oro al valor civile for his achievements, but above all for his altruistic attitude.

A brief history of Gasherbrum II

Gasherbrum II (8035 m) is the 13th highest peak in the world and the lowest eight-thousandth Karakorum. Among the eight-thousanders, only Shishapangma (8013 m) is lower. GII lies on the Pakistani-Chinese border, between the Baltoro Glacier in the west, Gasherbrum in the north and the Urdok glacier in the east – like the rest of the Gasherbrum group. The GII relative height is about 3000 m.

On July 7, 1956, the Austrians were the first to reach the summit during an expedition led by Fritz Moravec. Despite the relatively small difficulties, the mountain in the following years did not attract much interest from mountaineers.

Gasherbrum II – 8035 m. Normal road (photo: Jarosław Woćko)

It wasn’t until 1975 that further expeditions appeared at Gasherbrum II. The French, Marc Batard and Yannick Seigneur, climbed to the top with a new road leading through the southern rib. A few days later, on August 1, the first Poles stood on the summit: Leszek Cichy, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, Krzysztof Zdzitowiecki. On August 9, they were followed by Marek Janas, Andrzej Łapiński, and Władysław Woźniak. On August 12, 1975, mountain climbers Halina Krüger-Syrokomska and Anna Okopińska checked in at the summit. It was the first entry into the eight-thousanders in history made by an independent women’s team (5th entry to the GII). The manager was Wanda Rutkiewicz.

Gasherbrum II East (7772 m) is a separate destination for mountaineers. Jerzy Kukuczka and Wojciech Kurtyka were the first to reach this summit in June 1983.

The Polish expedition from 2006, organized by the trio composed of Ryszard Pawłowski, Janusz Majer, Krzysztof Wielicki – The Playground Friends HiMountain Gasherbrum II Expedition 2006 , proved very effective , during which as many as 9 participants reached the summit.

“Three friends from the field” during the approach to the Baltoro glacier, 1984. From the left Ryszard Pawłowski, Janusz Majer, Krzysztof Wielicki

In 2007, the virgin north wall of the GII succumbed to the efforts of two Italian climbers , Karl Unterkircher and Michel Compagnoni.

The first winter entry at GII belongs to the three Simone Moro, Cory Richards, Denis Urubko (2011). The climbers thus became the first winter conquerors of the 8,000-meter summit in Karakorum.

On July 25, Olek Ostrowski disappeared after skiing down the GII . Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Olek’s rescue group, they could not be found. Andrzej Bargiel, the best Polish ski mountaineer, also climbed GII in 2018 (as part of acclimatization before K2). His plans, however, thwarted dangerous snow conditions .

Adam Bielecki – Felix Berg climbed the new variant through the western wall at GII last year .

New roads on the eight-thousanders alone and in the Alpine style

Transitions of this type are rare. Even less often in non-stop mode. Each of them is a separate case, and their difficulties are of a different nature. There is no need to compare them, but on this occasion it is worth mentioning a few historical feats of a similar nature (incomplete list):

Hermann Buhl in 1953 on Nanga Parbat. The Austrian, who not only first reached the summit of Nanga Parbat, but (also as the first in history) entered the eight-thousanders solo and introduced the alpine style to the highest mountains. He climbed 41 hours on Nanga Parbat (the night stopped on the tiny ledge) and barely escaped with life. This is the only case in history in which the first entry to the eight-thousanders was made alone.

Reinhold Messner in 1978 on Nanga Parbat. The first winner of the Himalayan Crown and one of the most famous mountaineers of all time. He entered Langa Parbat in 1978 alone, through a new road through the Diamir wall. It was the first entry into the eight-thousanders solo in history and a new route.

Reinhold Messner in 1980 on Mount Everest. “No oxygen,” alone, during the monsoon – a new path through the north wall.

Krzysztof Wielicki in Dhaulagiri in 1990. The ultra-fast (16 hours) transition of the new variant on the eastern wall (whether this is a new route or a variant, there was a discussion later).

Krzysztof Wielicki in 1993 at Shishapangma. The passage was somehow accidental when it turned out that the approach to the wall leading to the western summit (the original target) is too dangerous because of the numerous fissures. The hidden lobby led Wielicki to the southern wall, which he climbed to the top.

Carlos Carsolio in 1994 on Broad Peak. Mexican, the fourth conqueror of the Himalayan Crown (“without oxygen”, not counting the rescue operation during the departure from Makalu in 1988), he won 6 out of 14 of his eight-thousanders climbing alone. He also made his way up Broad Peak. He called it The Carsolio Route and apparently to this day considers this feat as one of his greatest achievements in the mountains.

Jean-Christophe Lafaille in 1994 at Shishapangma. The first of many lonely climbs to the eight-thousanders of this outstanding French mountaineer. He reached the summit via a new road through the north wall. The Frenchman on Broad Peak was rescued by Denis Urubko in 2003.

Tomaz Humar in 1999 on Dhaulagiri. After 9 days of difficult, lonely climbing, Humar completed the road leading to the previously undefeated, 4,000-meter-high southern wall of Dhaulagiri. Alpine style passage, with camps due to the size of the wall and technical difficulties.

Pavle Kojzek in 2006 at Cho Oyu. From ABC (6200 m) to the summit (8201 m) in 14.5 hours. Solo, a new road on the south wall. After 1,100 m climbing in an unknown terrain, the Slovene reached a known road – Polish Ridge, which he covered another 900 m separating him from the summit.

Tomaz Humar in 2007 in Annapurna. A unique (second) passage of a difficult southern wall. The new road marked out by the Slovenian runs to the right of the road from the Hajzer-Kukuczka team from 1988. Alpine crossing, with camps due to the size of the wall and technical difficulties.

Ueli Steck in 2013. On Annapurna. The passage of the southern wall of Annapurna by the famous Swiss is considered one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport himalism. Ueli crossed his path (2700 m high) alone in just 28 hours from the base extended to the top and back. This climbing was awarded the Golden Ice ax.

Michał Gurgul 
sources: desnivel.com, mountain.ru, Polish Alpejski Club, plus.poranny.pl, alpinist.com, 8000ers.com, planetmountain.com, own sources