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Denis Urubko and Winter Drama on K2

Over the past few days, there’s been a lot of drama on the world’s second highest mountain, K2.


The 8,611-metre peak has been the focus of Polish team’s attempt for the first winter ascent.

The expedition was interrupted last month when Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki left the trip to rescue Elizabeth Revol on Nanga Parbat.

Once the climb was back on track, the team planned on making a summit push during the first week of March.

However, Urubko recently left the attempt for a solo-push up the peak. He wanted to summit before the meteorological end of the winter season, which is Feb. 28. The astronomical end of the season is on March 20.

Things did not go as planned and Urubko has since abandoned his attempt. While other climbers from the group are moving up the peak. The team was not happy with his decision.

A post shared by Adam Bielecki (@adamtheclimber) on

Urubko had wanted to attempt early with Bielecki, but Bielecki said they weren’t ready.

As UKclimbing.com reported here, “Urubko responded with anger and stormed out of the tent. The following morning he set off alone up the mountain, without a radio to allow contact with his team.”

And a porter with the group said, “He has had a heated debate with the team leader and left for the summit without saying a word.”

Wielicki told Mark Jenkins for National Geographic, “What Denis has done is very selfish. Denis thinks it’s all about just him, but it’s not. He has put all of us in danger. If something goes wrong, of course we must try to rescue him.”

The team of Polish climbers had wanted to climb the Cesen Spur but bailed and switched to the Abruzzi Ridge, a steeper but safer line.

Simone Moro and Cory Richards made the first winter ascent of the 8,035-metre Gasherbrum II with Urubko in 2011.

Moro told Jenkins, “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.”

While Richards said, “Denis is very headstrong. He has fairly strong beliefs about how things should be done and his own capacity for fulfilling those things.

“But look at his climbing resume. He’s by far one of the strongest climbers in the 8,000-metre game. Denis is trying to thread a needle he sees, and he has more experience than anyone on the team.”

Wielicki had told National Geographic, “We must now focus the whole team on helping Denis. No matter what happens on the summit we want him to get back down alive.”

Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk are headed to camp-three, and Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek are on their way to camp-two. They plan to attempt the summit soon.

As of today, Urubko was back in base camp and announced he’s leaving the expedition. Click on the clip below for more.

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