Urubko climbs new route on Cho Oyu

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 21/05/2009
Cho Oyu from the south. Jacques Belge

The noted Kazakh mountaineer, Denis Urubko, has completed all 14 of the 8,000m peaks with a superb alpine-style ascent of Cho Oyu (8,188m) via a new route on the South East Face.

With Boris Dedeshko, Urubko left Advanced Base on the 7th May, bivouacked at 6,000m, 6,600m, 7,100m and 7,600m, and reached the summit on the 11th. The pair had some poor weather on the third day with dangerous avalanches, and then a storm at 7,600m that lasted for 15 hours. The descent, down the ascent line, took a further three days, the last two without food.

The photo shows the top third of the route: the South East Pillar being the obvious spur to the right.

In 1978, Austrians Alois Furtner and Edi Koblmuller, who had nothing more than a trekking permit, made an ascent of the right side of the face, fixing some rope. In February 1985, a Polish team led by the great winter specialist, Andrzej Zawada, climbed the South East Pillar, putting a total of four climbers on the summit, the first two being Maciej Berbeka and Maciej Pawlikowski. This was the first winter ascent of the mountain.

The new Kazakh route climbs the steep, inset face to the left of the South East Pillar, joining it at c8,000m.

Sixteen men, including Urubko, have now reached the tops of all 14, though only around half this number has achieved the feat without supplementary oxygen.

This is Urubko's third alpine-style new route on an 8,000er and comes just a few months after he and Simone Moro made the first winter ascent of Makalu.

Another mountaineer to complete all 14 is the German guide Ralf Dujmovits. He summited his last, Lhotse, on the 20th May with his partner Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who completes her 12th. Kaltenbrunner has an equal number of 8,000m summits as her 'rival' in the race to be the first women to climb all 14, the Basque Edurne Pasaban.

This Spanish female had a very difficult descent from the summit of Kangchenjunga, which she reached on the 18th May. She was helped by her team-mates down to Camp 2, and when her condition seemingly failed to improve, a Sherpa was radioed to bring up an oxygen bottle. After breathing some gas, she was able to make it down to base camp, exhausted and frostbitten, from where she was evacuated by helicopter. Pasaban now has only Annapurna and Xixabangma to do (Kaltenbrunner has Everest and K2).

Elsewhere, on Everest it is reported that a Korean team led by Park Young-seok, one of few climbers to have notched up all 14, 8,000m peaks, the Seven Summits and both North and South Poles, has completed what may be a new route on the South West Face. This is currently unconfirmed and details are lacking. On the same mountain 65 years old Sir Ranulph Fiennes has reached the summit on his third attempt.



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