The winterly lord

An interview with one of the great mountaineers protagonist of the current world before going for the winter K2

Carlos Eduardo González | Redacción Alpinismonline Martes 14 de Noviembre de 2017 - 00:00 10185 | 0


By Fernanda Insua, Noel González and Carlos Eduardo González | Redacción Alpinismonline

Exclusive interview with Denis Urubko for Alpinismonline Magazine


Cover photo: Andrei Starkov

Today, just a few weeks before starting one of the most important projects of recent times, a testimony as valuable and complete as the one we are going to show you next, is for the entire Alpinismonline Magazine team, a real privilege .

Whenever we face an interview of this kind, with such an important personality of the world mountaineering, we have beforehand some kind of concern about how that character will react to our proposal.

They usually end up surprising us, especially for their great kindness. In the case of Denis Urubko, this surprise has exceeded all expectations. Denis showed from the start a great predisposition and then taking into account the distances that separate us, a huge dedication to make clear each of the concepts.

Those distances that we mentioned often play against this type of interviews, it is difficult to make an immediate return, since the schedules, obligations and times do not work in the way that one would like. Then it is necessary to plan the questions to be able to make the most of having the testimony of a protagonist of the world mountaineering as Denis is.

I thank Denis in advance and publicly for this predisposition, and I think, after reading and rereading the interview, that we have covered all aspects of its current affairs, among which one of them is clearly highlighted, of which, in a few weeks, it will be All the world of mountaineering is pending.

We are then, at the precise moment, in the ideal temporal aspect to face this type of interview, to know a little more about the immediate plans and some other things of the mountaineering of Denis, that has dazzled us throughout all these years.

I leave then in the company of Denis Urubko, mountaineer.


The history in the winters, shows that the climbers of Eastern Europe are made of another paste, what do you think that Latinos lack to do these activities?

Is not good parallel... or controversion. Some interesting winter ascents had done by climbers from France, Italy and Spain. Bodies and psihic of people are very similar around the planet. But many options depends from cultural and historical relation, of course. In Western Europe people are spending different activities in winter usually. Ski is an important action, was less popular in Poland and Russia in previous years. Is as a joke from my side, but...


Alex Txikon, said "no" to your expedition to K2. Now it goes again on Everest without O2, in winter. Do you think he does the right thing after his attempts last year?
Of course, Alex is in very correct way, he can to realise important dream in case of success. I respect it a lot. But we need to understand "temperature" of adventure, of exploration. In my humble opinion is less in second attempt, and later. Rock-climbers can to understand different between On-sight and Repeat styles. I am really sad in case of ascent to mountain after many years attempting of pressing by same route. As Nuptse or Nanga-Parbat receiving Piolet d´Ors - repetitions. That mountaineers declared as "pure alpine style". Even by old their personal fix ropes... Strange! I am not agree. In this winter I am going for attempt to K2, and knowledge of Abruzzi route (in case our team will attack this way) give me more possibilities and less emotions. But, as I like to repeat - winter ascent is a huge adventure in any case. We are on parallel by the incredible challenges. I hope to see from top of K2 very strong spanish mountaineer Alex on the top of Everest.

Denis (Photo: Cory Richards for NatGeo)

You have earned to be one of the most powerful climbers in winter. Now you are going to try to close the list, of the 14 in winter Is Denis ready to enter the story?
By the winter ascent on K2 the "LIST" is impossible to close. Because Broad and Gasherbrum-1 peaks still unclimbing in winter period. Is a very good challenge to organize expeditions on this mountains in future... And then we can to speak about "History", perhaps. Many people would like to be including on the storical pages, and me is not exception. But is better not be alpinist following this meaning only. My wish is to get the real goal as an athlete, and to explode desire as an artist. To get emotions of realisation by physical and psychical ability.


What do you think of the current Alpine style? Lighter, faster, less time and less money ...
Yes, you´re right. Year by year mountaineers did get many new chances because of modern reality. Technic, technologies, knowledges - many details of civilisation´s development helps. New generation have clear forecast, understanding of acclimatisation, new crampons, tents, stoves... It means possibilities to do step ahead, to act with less doubts and additional courage. All technological options (and permissions for it) are expensive also :) and finally price can be same.


Are you in favor of the current commercial massification in the great mountains?
For me is difficult to understand why business in mountains is such a noisy, take a lot of discussions between public. I am not interesting about commercial alpinism. But is not a problem for me in case if everyone´s freedom to spend his personal money for action. For me is not a problem that people (guides, porter, cooks) are growing money in mountains. Service is exist. As "Show must go on". Mountaineers can do their personal choice - to use it or not. Problems starts when government (Nepal, Pakistan, USA and China) establish rules of commercial expeditions for all mountaineers. Press us. For example, twenty years ago was free to accent throw Khumbu or on South Col by yourself... now is obligation to pay money of the sherpa´s job. Even prices of permissions! For normal mountaineer is impossible to pay such a big amount as in Nepal´s government business is in obligation.


Three legends from winter to eight thousanders: Krzysztof Wielicki, Simone Moro and Denis Urubko (Foto N/A)

Pipi Cardell and you opened this summer a new route in Chapayev Peak. How was the experience in that cold mountain?
Chapayeva peak was my dream since 1993. As I know, 22 year no one reached the summit, and 37 years no one was able to open any new routes. Despite of attempts even. I saved dream to reach the top since many years - from 1993. And choosed correct moment with correct partner - as in chess. Was important to construct good positive relation with Maria Cardell into the extremal condition - to check each other. We spend many ascents in Europe and Asia in last year, raising the level step by step. And discovered many personal characteristics by cooperation. It gave chance to look ahead for more ambitious aims. Maria and me were able to go up fast even in unknown space. We spend very cold bivouacs without tent. Shared the last pieces of meal and drops of water. Spended discussions and agreements. Were fighting throw the difficulties and risks. It is very nervous and meditational experience... but positive finally.


What does Denis have in the depth of his agenda to be done, beyond this winter of course?
Winter is coming soon, so is important to be prepared before. I am running, ricing the level of efforts. Am climbing just in quantity - not ricing the level. Am spending trips in mountains by the not extremal routes... because any little mistake is very risky for the departure to K2 winter expedition. I am taking care so much as possible. In Valcanale village under the huge rocky bastions with friends we are trying to organize something as an international camping. I would like to help for young mountaineers on the way to improve skills. In plans is visits to Spain and Poland - by car some thousands kilometers... with climbing pauses by the way. I need to finalize some ideas about CAMP equipment, that we designed... Is still waiting my time the new book by Italian language... Oh, is so many deals, that at the end of day I fall to sleep extremely tired and happy!


Denis and Krysztof, two winter "gentlemen" who come together in search of an objective that the Polish love (Photo Albin Marciniak)

We are going now specifically to the next winter to K2. A single letter, differentiates the word "invernal" from "infernal". Does this last word apply to K2? What are the preponderant factors that make it so complex?
K2 is very interesting challenge for mountaineer. As a desire, dream. I am not agree to use this word "HELL" about such a positive factors. No one person would like to appear in hell. Our Polish winter expedition concluding not stupid people, we have aim to be winners, to get the goal despite of many prevision problems and difficulties. Keeping into the hearts respectation and responsibility for Pakistan, for mountains, for other members and all friends and families in home. We´ll get strong wind, icey slopes, low temperatures, short sunny day, stonefalls and avalanches on K2. This factors are usual in winter condition, we need to be ready to act despite of all of it.


What or what were the reasons that finally made you accept this challenge?
Just in this time I feel more free, less depend for duties. And spend nice 2017 year with hi-altitude ascents in winter and summer. Alll decisions are not standart in winter hi-altitude expeditions, every step is necessary to emaze. It´s a real Art that I like to proceed as a one bright and unbielivable emotional explosure.


Every attempt without summit - I would not call it a failure - gives the team knowledge, experience, solidity. After the many attempts that K2 has had, of which you have been a participant before, do you think that this "wintry" has already matured, is it already at the moment of reaping results?
Time change nothing in this case. Yes, you´re right that K2´d got pushes of athletes already.Many things and ideas are well known. But we need to remember that every unsuccessfull attempt give more panic and doubts also. Is a compromise. And is not correct to think that every new expedition have more chances for the goal just because of previews expirience. But new style of organisation, new technologies and new bugget and LUCK will support every next expedition, of course.


What is the strategy in these types of companies so complex, to reach success?
In my humble opinion the main strategy is in simple rules: to work hardly, to keep silence, to feel reality as a game. But I am not alone, and we needs to count our global Expeditional strategy. Motives and opinion of partners are very important for me. I´ll never give up, hopefully. Will try to do my best for final success of all our team. All Poland and many people around the planet are the part of K2 winter expedition now. Is better to proceed the strategy of real humanity.

And specifically for this K2, have you already thought or elaborated the strategy?
This question is better to pass for leader of our expedition. I need to be prepared so much as I can, to be ready for summit push finally as a member.


From all your winters to eight thousand. What has been the most complex so far? Regardless of whether or not it ended with a summit.
Woops! K2, Makalu and G2 were very difficult projects. Four completely different progects. Because we fight till the ultimate possibility, till the border (even more) of our abilityes. Just Nanga in 2013 was loosing by the weak reasons and bad relation. And I have no other experience for the 8000 meters winter peaks.

Denis (Photo: Bartłomiej Zborowski /PAP)

You have said that the winter season should be considered according to the "climatic factors" and not the "astronomical calendar." Therefore, taking into account the "winter" issues of the Himalayas and Karakoram, the winter season runs between the 21st December and sets the maximum to February 28. Are you still holding that thought? Would February 28 be the deadline to reach the "Winter to K2"?

I suppose period 01 (zero one) December - 28 (29) February as a real winter. About our K2 project my opinion have no meaning now, because I am just following the duty, would like to reach the top. Later or before - doesn´t matter. Just success is important. Than after expedition we´ll see doubts, meanings... "options" as talk width Krzysztof Wielicky.


Then without the intention of making a "prediction" that Denis can tell us about how he will find us all lovers of mountaineering, the first of March compared to the winter at K2?
Just wish me good luck, please. Let´s speak about K2 as in past by the moment to turn back to home, please.


Good luck for the entire Alpinismonline Magazine team, Denis!

Denis (Photo: Matteo Zanga)

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