Dhaulagiri: Urubko summits, but aborts speed ascent to help a climber down

Posted: May 03, 2007 10:17 am EDT

(MountEverest.net/Madrid) It has happened again. Kazakh Denis Urubko has summited Dhaulagiri, but only after aborting his speed ascent in order to help a sick climbing mate down the mountain.

Alone in the dark

Denis set off from BC on a speed ascent on Monday night, at 10:00 p.m. Eager to climb as light as possible, he even left his satellite phone behind. The rest of his Kazakh team, with Serguey Samoilov at the head, had already departed. On his run up the mountain though, Urubko met one of the team members in trouble: Boris Korshunov, a 72 years old veteran. The night had caught Boris below C3, at 7,300m Denis reported to Russian Climb. He was alone and with no tent. I felt I had to abort my summit push, and instead helped him down.

Up and down - and then back up the mountain

"I warmed him and gave him hot tea, then I helped him down to 7,100m, which we reached in 4 hours," Denis added. "From that point Boris could proceed further down by himself."

Meanwhile, the rest of the Kazakh team had gone up. Samoilov, Svetlana Sharipova and Eugeny Shutov, reached the top on Tuesday, May 1. Denis, who had returned up after leaving Boris, met them in the upper camp. "Next morning (May 2) it took me 4,5 hours to reach the summit,"Urubko stated.

People comes before climbing ambitions

It is not clear how long Denis descended with Boris, but the fact is, Urubko took him to a safe place and then turned up again towards the summit, which he reached yesterday.

It is not the first time Denis Urubko sacrifices his own climbing plans in order to help someone whatever a member of his team, or someone who has never met before. The speed climb on Dhaula, hoping to break the record set up in 1995 by Anatoli Bukreev, was Denis great spring project. Inaki Ochoa recently mentioned the Kazakh was extremely fit and motivated. After returning from our own summit push, Jorge and I showed Denis the pictures we had shot on the upper sections, Ochoa recalls. He couldnt take his eyes off the images; he was hectic and willing to set off immediately. But again, Denis has ended his attempt with one record less, and probably a life saved.

Gagarin's engineer

As for Boris, he may be not young, but he is also anything but inexperienced. The seven-times Snow Leopard (a title awarded to the climbers who summit the highest peaks of the former Soviet Union) also reached short from the summit of Everest last year, after climbing without supplementary O2 or Sherpas. In addition, Korshunov is an Aerospatiale engineer who worked on the project which put the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin.

Denis Urubko (Almaty) is one of the strongest high mountaineers in Kazakhstan. He has climbed 10, 8000ers without O2 including a new route on BP in alpine style in 2005 (nominated for Golden Ice Axe) and a new route on Manaslu in 2006. Denis has won several speed climbing competitions including the Khan Tengri (7010 m) speed race in 2000 (7 hours 40 minutes to summit and 12 hours 21 minutes for the entire climb).

He has also sacrificed summits to help fellow climbers in trouble, some of whom he had never met before.

Member of the Kazakh national team, Denis Urubko took a step up three years ago, in switching from large expeditions to 8000 climbs in alpine-style together with Serguey Samoilov.

On May 8, 2006, Denis and Serguey completed a new, Alpine-style route on the northeast side of Manaslu (8163m). A few days earlier, theyd reached the top via the normal route, achieving the first summit on Manaslu in three years. In 2005, Denis and Serguey were also nominated for the international Piolet dOr after a new route they opened on sight, alpine-style and in very bad conditions on the previously unclimbed southwestern face of Broad Peak. They were the only climbers to reach the summit of BP that year.

A great technical climber, Serguey, 51, was new to 8000+ altitude when he joined Denis for the climb on Broad Peak, and the two men have teamed up since then. The other recent Dhaulagiri summiteers Svetlana Sharipova and Eugeny Shutov were on their first Himalayan experience.

This summer, Denis Urbko and Sergey Samoilov will try to open a new line on K2s north face, alpine style.

7-times Snow Leopard and mountain guide Boris Korshunov has also led a remarkable career on Space development. He worked in the special research team who put the first man in orbit: Yuri Gagarin's. Last year Boris, at 71 years old, attempted Everest without O2 or high altitude Sherpas climb was a hell of an attempt even though it was cut short of summit. Soon afterwards Boris completed the Elbrus Speed Race at just under 5 hours. That time the race was won by no other than Denis, who invested 3 hours and 55 minutes to cross the finish line.


The night had caught Boris below C3, Denis Urubko reported. He was alone and with no tent. I felt I had to abort my summit push, and instead helped him down. Image of Denis last year at the Elbrus Speed race (which he won) courtesy of Russian CLimb (click to enlarge).
Image of Boris Korshunov (75) courtesy of Simone Moro (click to enlarge).

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