Denis Urubko remains at base camp along with the drama. Now that he is off the team, the remaining climbers are focusing on a potential summit push around mid March. Alex Txikon
suggested he ended his winter Everest attempt with his permit expiring on 28 February but today said maybe not! See this post for full background on the K2 and Everest expeditions and the history of winter attempts on the highest two mountains on Earth.
Big Picture – Weather Watch Part 5,693
Once again it’s all about the weather. The winds stopped Txikon on Everest and the winds stopped Urubko on K2. Now we will wait and see if a tiny break in the weather will allow the remaining Polish climbers to complete their acclimatization and then make a push for summit K2, and create another moment in mountaineering history. Txikon on Everest is in a similar situation.
K2 Team Wants More Acclimatization
A few days ago Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk tried to reach C3 at 7,200-meters but only got to 7,000m before weather, once again, forced a retreat. They did get the fixed line through the Black Pyramid. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek slept at C2, 6,500m. Today all four climbers are back to base camp where they will take a few days of rest. All climbers are reported to be in good health. Wielicki has said he intends to continue running the expedition according to the schedule for a summit attempt in early March.
The latest from their Facebook account :
After returning to the Base both teams were tested: Marcin Kaczkan, Marek Chmielarski, Maciej Bedrejczuk and Artur Małek. Despite the heavy load: wind, temperature, physical effort, all parameters of the boys are in the full standard, without any complaints or injuries. After 2-3 days of regeneration, the boys will be completely ready for further action in the mountains. KW, Expedition Doctor
The highest anyone on the K2 team had reached was when Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko touched 7,400-meters. At the moment, it appears that Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab are the strongest climbers and have the best chance for a summit bid but Golab wants to spend one night at 7,200-7,400-meters (C3) before the attempt. In other words, there is another rotation before they feel it is time for the summit push. Thus we are looking at least a week or more.
Urubko – No Apologies and Banned from Internet
Urubko reached around 7,700-meters/26,262 feet, just above Camp 4, on his solo push before poor weather (high winds and low visibility) forced him back. This was about 300 meter higher than he and Bielecki touched during an acclimatization run a couple of weeks ago.
He reached the usual spot for High Camp or Camp 4. From there the climb is straightforward snow slope to the base of the huge serac. You go through the bottleneck to reach the traverse, which is a couple hundred meters of near vertical ice wall. Once past this section, it is a long, but straightforward climb to the summit. In a normal year, from C4 to the summit might take 6-8 hours assuming the ropes are in. Given he had to set some kind of protection, or free climb the traverse, Urubko was looking at an enormously long day from Camp 3 – close to 24 hours round trip. He made a wise decision to turn back.
Now back at base camp Urubko will depart on 28 February to begin his trip home.
Denis, speaking to the press before his access was cut-off (see below) made his position clear in an interview with Poland’s tvn24.pl
I do not think I have to apologize to anyone. They also are not angels. Wielicki allowed me to enter the third camp, and then told me to come back for reasons I do not understand. This is not a situation to say “sorry” . Me no one apologized for their mistakes. My opinion remains the same .
It was my chance to do something, and not to sit all the time in the basecamp. I am glad that I made the summit attempt. If I did not, I would be furious. Not won the summit, it was too big a risk. Conditions were very bad: lots of snow, zero visibility. Back was the only right decision. Now I can focus on other projects, prepare for climbing elsewhere.
Krzysztof Wielicki, leader of the expedition added this during an interview about seeing with Denis upon his return from the solo attempt:
Denis did not talk to me, he apologized and offered a hand. Well, somehow I have to get over it, because I invited him to our team. Tomorrow, Wednesday, is to leave the base, which are now all colleagues. Conditions at the top do not allow any activity. We have to wait for better weather … not true having prevented Denis contact with family and loved ones. He received the opportunity to phone calls (free) which benefited. Personally, I informed about the return of Denis to the base of his wife Olga. This gives full support organizer descent to Skardu, care of our car and airline tickets all the way back.
Adding to the schoolroom behavior, Wielicki, banned Urubko from using their internet communications to talk to the press, limiting him to only his family (source):
The emerging network information that is not allowed after returning from a solitary output Denis to use Wi-Fi is true, as Denis during the expedition sent to various media critical information about our expedition and its participants, and I saw no reason to using our service continued their subjective opinions
Janusz Majer, who is the chairman of the expedition organizing committee weighed in that Urubko’s departure may actually help the team,
Denis departure will further strengthen and consolidate the team to achieve the objective. We now have one team and one goal. I’m not going to gloat over it, but that he would not bring the radio going up and talk to the manager, was very irresponsible decision. When I heard about it, that at first I did not believe that such an experienced climber could not decide on such a move, especially since the strong windy up there, and forecasts have been very unfavorable
Simone Moro, who has climbed with Urubko and has a difficult relationship with him told NatGeo:
“He has a Russian military mentality, he is very strong and he has no fear. These are excellent qualities, but he has to be managed properly to prevent him taking stupid or fatal risks.”
Of note, the moderator of Denis’ FAN page felt the need to make this post due to what I assume were unwanted comments:
RULES of the PAGE
This is the fans page of Denis Urubko
There is just a simple rule NO INSULTS, ok criticism and constructive conversations but NO INSULTS
Who do not respect this simple rule will be immediately blocked and banned from the page
One thing is clear, Denis was the strongest climber and the one willing to take the most risks and has a strong personality. We will see over the next two weeks if some else steps up to his level or as a team they can unite to make the summit.
Winter Everest –
Second Summit Bid Considered?
Alex Txikon made one attempt for the summit but was stopped by high winds. Now with their permit expiring at the end of February, they don’t have enough time to try again thus have announced an end to this season’s efforts.
BUT WAIT!! Alex made a somewhat surprising comment on his Facebook Page that he may stay at Base Camp in hopes of trying again before 20 March:
We continue at the Base Camp, but the weather is not playing in our favor. Temba and Ali Sadpara have returned to Kathmandu because they weren´t able to continue, but the rest of us, we feel very strong. I would also like to appreciate the great work of Cheppal, Nuri, Pasang, Wallung and Geljen during the whole expedition. Everything indicates that the weather forecast will not be favorable until mid-March so we are considering different possibilities. I’ll let you know. A big hug!!
Now he says its over….
Memories are Everything