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Urubko: Much depends on weather and luck

Denis Urubko

Not only formerly French actor Gerard Depardieu has become a Russian, but also Denis Urubko. The 39 years old climber wrote me that he had left Kazakhstan and had now a passport of Russia. This spring Denis – together with his new countryman Alexei Bolotov – wants to climb Mount Everest on a new route (look here) via the southwest face. Urubko has already climbed all fourteen 8000ers without supplementary oxygen. Together with his friend Simone Moro from Italy Denis succeeded the first winter ascents of Makalu(2009) and Gasherbrum II (2011). In 2010 Denis and Kazakh Boris Dedeshko were awarded with the Piolet d’Or, the ‘Oscar’ of mountaineering, for their new route via the south face of Cho Oyu. I asked Urubko about his new plan on Everest. 

Denis, you will return to Everest, although you have already climbed it without oxygen in 2000. What has motivated you to do it again? 

For many reasons mountains have to been climbed twice. The first ascents normally happened by the easiest way, as you can see in history of exploration of 8000 meter peaks. On Everest it happened in 1953, on K 2 in 1954… in usual Himalayan style, with porters etc. But civilization gives us other possibilities in development. Equipment becomes lighter and stronger. Food and stoves let us survive better. Next climbers were able to do something stronger: new routes, speed ascents, other projects. Step by step. The psychological barriers were crushed. Two examples for this are the ascents of Messner and Habeler on Hidden Peak in alpine style and on Everest without oxygen.

I see it from a sportive point of view: delivering results that are better compared with other people. It’s a strong exploration of self power, of mentality of course to open a new page in the book of mountain world, with the possibility to do something new. 

You want to climb Everest with the Russian Alexei Bolotov on a new route. How many details can you reveal about style and route? 

Yes we’ll try to act together. Alexei was very glad about this project and the idea to attempt a new route on one of the most difficult faces in the world. We plan to climb a route in the centre of the southwest face and will try to do it in alpine style, but much depends on weather and luck. 

Have you already climbed with Alexei?

We met first in 1995, when he was in the rescue team after my accident in central Tian Shan. He brought me down from 6000 meters. In 2000 we participated in a speed-ascent competition on Khan Tengri and in 2008 in the unfortunately unsuccessful attempt to rescue Spanish climber Iñaki Ochoa on Annapurna. We both joined a Lhotse expedition in 2001. We had some good experience together. Last month Alexei and I climbed some short routes in Tian Shan for training. These were nice days, and we hope to be ready for the Himalayas at the end of March.

Your friend Simone Moro will also try to reach the summit of Mount Everest this spring, on a new route together with Swiss climber Ueli Steck. Is it an option to join together both teams? 

We still have no plan to do so. But life always brings a lot of surprises. For me just one month ago it was a great news that Ueli and Simone plan to climb Everest together. We’ll see what happens in future. 

Next May the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest will be celebrated. What kind of mountain is Everest for you, how do you think about it right now? 

For me Everest is simply the highest mountain of the world. All other things depend on the personal view: Beautiful, difficult, magic mountain – this applies to many mountains. But the highest, this is only Everest.  

What do you wish Mount Everest for the future?

I dream to see Everest from the bottom through a glass of wine. For me it makes no sense to wish for less people on the slopes of Everest – as nobody can wish for less people on Eiffel tower. But of course I hope for less corpses on the slopes.  

In July you will celebrate your 40th birthday. A day like any other or do you feel it could be a break? 

The date means nothing. Just my experience that fortune has given to me during many pleasant and difficult years is important for me. I had exploring, sportive, art actions… and I hope to do the same on the next interesting pages: To be happy in mountains, music, trainings, family, articles, other activities – just this only.


16. March 2013 | 22:49