Last attempt on Broad Peak, high altitude sickness on Everest

Denis Urubko at Broad Peak

The three remaining winter expeditions on the eight-thousanders Broad Peak and Mount Everest are entering a potentially decisive phase. At the 8,051-meter-high Broad Peak in the Karakoram in Pakistan, Denis Urubko announced yesterday via Facebook that he would be setting off for his last summit attempt this Sunday – solo and without bottled oxygen. He said he would try to climb to Camp 3 at about 7,000 meters in one go and then reach the summit on Monday. After returning to base camp he wants to finish the expedition. The weather forecast predicts sun and wind speeds between 30 and 40 kilometers per hour for the planned summit day.

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Winter expeditions on Broad Peak and Everest: Back to base camp

Broad Peak (with the shadow of K2)

No, climbers are not normal employees – even if a glance at the winter expeditions in the Himalayas and Karakoram might give this impression. The mountaineers returned to their base camps just in time for the weekend, but  not just to put their feet up, but for other reasons. On Broad Peak, Denis Urubko and Don Bowie abandoned their summit attempt because the latter is ill. “We are in base camp. Today (the) weather is miracle for (the) summit, but I was not able to leave Don alone,” Denis let us know via Facebook. “He was very bad. Now he needs rest.” Yesterday Urubko had informed that the route is secured with fixed ropes up to an altitude of 7,500 meters: “We have two weeks more. I feel well and will wait (for) the (right) moment.”

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Summit bid on Broad Peak, K2 expedition abandoned

Broad Peak

The good weather window will be only open for a short time. But Denis Urubko and Don Bowie want to take the opportunity to climb “through the window” to the 8,051-meter-high summit of Broad Peak in the Karakoram. As Urubko announced on Facebook, the former Kazakh citizen, who now has a Polish and a Russian passport, and his Canadian teammate left base camp today. They climbed up to Camp 2 at about 6,400 meters in one go. Tomorrow the 46-year-old Denis and the 50-year-old Don plan to reach Camp 3 at 7,000 meters, on Friday the highest point.

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Göttler and Barmasse: New route on Cho Oyu or plan B?

Hervé Barmasse (r.) and David Göttler in Nepal in fall 2019

Is the other one the perfect climbing partner? Yes, answer both the 41-year-old German high-altitude climber David Göttler and the 42-year-old Italian Hervé Barmasse. “We complement each other super well,” says David. “We train more or less the same way, we have almost the same fitness, we move as fast as is necessary on eight-thousanders,” says Hervé. “Sometimes we have discussions, but that’s quite normal.” In questions of mountaineering ethics, Barmasse is “sometimes even more blatant than I am”, says Göttler: “I accept fixed ropes here and there where it makes sense. He is more rigorous in this respect and says: We don’t do that.”

Fast, clean, without bottled oxygen

Therefore, Hervé reports, he did not accompany David to Everest. In spring 2019, Göttler had tried in vain to scale the highest mountain on earth without bottled oxygen – via the normal route secured with fixed ropes. “I think that for the next generation of the best alpinists, it is no longer just about reaching the summit of Everest or any other mountain, but about respecting the mountain, respecting our planet,” says Barmasse. “That’s why I want to climb clean, in Alpine style.” On the whole, he agrees with Göttler on this point: They want to be en route on the eight-thousanders fast, in a clean style, without breathing mask. This also applies to their next project.

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Fall into a crevasse on Mount Everest

Alex Txikon (r.) and Jonathan Garcia (l.) after the incident

Analogy of events: As it happened already on Gasherbrum I two weeks ago, Alex Txikon’s winter expedition on Mount Everest has now also suffered a fall into a crevasse, which fortunately ended relatively mildly. The Spaniard Jonatan Garcia was carrying latters to secure the route through the Khumbu Icefall when an ice bridge collapsed below him. Jonatan fell twelve meters deep into a crevasse. Alex Txikon managed to bring his companion back to the light. Garcia suffered rib injuries and was to be flown out by helicopter. This ist most probably the end of the expedition for him and Alex has lost an important companion. Last week, Txikon and Garcia had stood together on the summit of the 6,814 meter high Ama Dablam. 

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Summit attempt on Broad Peak abandoned

In high camp on Broad Peak (in the background K2)

At 7,650 meters it was over. Denis Urubko finished the first summit attempt of the winter expedition on the 8,051-meter-high Broad Peak and turned back. “No ropes and a lot of crevasses,” the 46-year-old posted on Facebook. „(Too) Tired to break trail, too risky, not enough time, but good acclimatization. Now we are drinking tea in Camp 3, tomorrow base camp.” It almost sounded as if Denis had been en route all the time today with his expedition companions Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa. But Urubko climbed up alone. 

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