Denis Urubko

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Cyrillic ( Kazakh )
Денис Урубко
Latin : Denïs Wrwbko
Transcr. : Denis Urubko
Cyrillic ( Russian )
Денис Викторович Урубко
Transl .: Denis Viktorovič Urubko
Transcr .: Denis Viktorovich Urubko
Denis Urubko (2010)

Denis Urubko (born July 29, 1973 in Nevinnomyssk , North Caucasus , Soviet Union ) is a Polish - Kazakh mountaineer . He is the 15th climber who has managed to climb all eight-thousanders and the eighth to have achieved this feat without additional oxygen. He also managed the first winter ascent of Makalu and Gasherbrum II together with Simone Moro . He is married and has two children. Urubko is in a relationship with the Spanish climber Maria "Pipi" Cardell. In February 2020, after his failed attempt to climb Broad Peak in winter, Urubko announced that he would no longer undertake expeditions to high mountains.

Alpinist curriculum vitae

Urubko's father, a topographer and hunter, sparked his passion for the mountains. Because of his allergic asthma, his family moved from the North Caucasus to Sakhalin Island in 1987 . After compulsory school, Urubko went to Vladivostok alone in 1990 to become an actor, cameraman and journalist. It was there that he read his first alpine books with fascination, including going it alone on Nanga Parbat by Reinhold Messner . He alternated between academia, odd jobs and the mountains. He received his first alpine training through the local mountaineering club and in the free summer months he moved to the Pamirs . There he carried out his first solo and speed climbs and in between worked as a deputy mountain guide for tourists.

In the summer of 1992 he took western mountaineers to Kazakhstan and met the Kazakh military sports team during training. Their head coach Ervand Ilyinsky asked Urubko if he didn't want to take part, even though he was still Russian at the time. Ilyinskij was the head of the Kazakh project The Conquering of All The Highest Mountains by the National Team , all 14 eight-thousanders should be reached by the Kazakh military team. Urubko then went back to his parents in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk for four months to earn some money. With the savings, he followed “an oral promise from a soldier”, Ilyinsky’s vague invitation to Almaty .

Urubko arrived in Kazakhstan on January 3, 1993 with little luggage, even less money and a lot of hope. There followed a year without permanent accommodation or work. His strong will should be shaped sustainably. He went through difficult moments: on the one hand because as a Russian he could not be accepted into the Kazakh army , on the other hand he was now considered a deserter by the Russian side because he evaded being drafted into Russian military service. In the summer of 1993, he climbed the Marble Wall on his birthday and Ilyinsky made it possible for him to take part in a military expedition. He climbed the Khan Tengri twice . With a few tricks he then obtained the residence permit and was able to join the Kazakh army in December 1993. As an unauthorized officer of the Central Sport Club of Kazakhstan Army , Urubko could finally devote himself exclusively to training, had a fixed salary, a roof over his head and an organization that took care of his daily problems. He could now concentrate on what really interested him: the mountains. In the former USSR there was only an alpine-oriented army division in Kazakhstan. This military sports corps was largely shaped by Serguey Samoilov . Urubko found in him a great mentor, expedition companion and expedition leader. Serguey Samoilov died on Lhotse in 2009 . The military expeditions were strictly planned and regulated. A large team worked out the heroic national summit victory on command.

Simone Moro finally brought Urubko out of the anonymity of institutionalized mountaineering by inviting him to bring an idea by Anatoly Bukreev to an end together . The goal was to climb all five seven-thousanders of the former Soviet Union , the snow leopard project , in a few weeks and a single expedition. Today these are in the border area of Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan . Moro and Bukrejew developed this project together. But when Bukrejew was swept away by an avalanche on the Annapurna south face while trying to find a new route in winter, Moro wanted to implement the project for him with Mario Curnis and two “boys” from the Kazakh military sports corps, of which Bukrejew was also a member. In an internal elimination, Denis Urubko and Andrei Molotov were finally chosen from a number of high-performance Kazakh mountaineers. In just 39 days (July 16 to August 24, 1999) Urubko and Molotov managed to defeat Ismoil Somoni Peak , Korzhenevskaya Peak , Lenin Peak , Jengish Chokusu and Khan Tengri . As a result, they too became carriers of the Snow Leopard Order . Climbing all five seven-thousanders in one season was only possible for the second time after 1991. Moro had given up at Pik Pobeda due to stomach problems. He had to persuade Urubko and Molotov to go on to the summit alone, as they initially did not want to part with Moro, following the old rules. Curnis reached three peaks and Alexander Gubaev was there on two .

Through this encounter with Simone Moro, Denis Urubko completely redefined his approach to mountaineering. He now got to know other types of mountaineering, such as sport and ice climbing, and improved his training and equipment. He also acquired a more philosophical, deeper component of dealing with nature. The Everest-Lhotse crossing with Moro was his first “excursion” abroad. Even as a Kazakh soldier, Urubko did not yet have a Kazakh citizenship and only obtained his passport four days before the start of the expedition after several bureaucratic hurdles thanks to the great support of Moro. Moro also funded the entire expedition and equipment. As state recognition for reaching Mount Everest, Urubko got his own apartment. This satisfied him in two ways: on the one hand, because from now on he was allowed to plan his ascent independently, even if he continued to train with the sports group, and on the other hand, because he was able to confirm the trust that others have placed in him and he also his mother was able to show that he was able to achieve some life goals through his "unusual longings". Moro bought the first washing machine for Urubko and in the following years led him to more eight-thousanders . Moro helped him find sponsors and taught him to organize expeditions. Since then, they have been friends with many other climbs together.

No matter how much Urubko preferred to be alone in the mountains in his youth, he is now, as he himself put it, always out and about with mountaineers friends for safety reasons and for the joy of life.

It was also Denis Urubko who gave Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner the nickname "Cinderella Caterpillar" on an expedition on Nanga Parbat in 2003, because despite her gracefulness she always made a mark on the mountain, but he could never remember her real name.

After completing the ascent of all 14 eight-thousanders, all of which he reached without additional oxygen, Urubko now wants to devote himself to new, difficult paths and further winter climbs on the highest mountains. Such adventures and the associated uncertainties are his motivation.

At the end of January 2018, Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki brought the French high-altitude climber Elisabeth Revol from Nanga Parbat, who was in difficulty . Urubko and Bielecki belonged to the team of the Polish K2 winter expedition and were brought to the foot of the Diamir flank by helicopter. Within a few hours, they climbed through technically difficult terrain to Revol, which they encountered at an altitude of about 6,200 meters.

Ascent of the eight-thousanders

Urubko has now stood on top of an eight-thousander 21 times.

Mount Everest (2000)

In 2000 he climbed the Khan Tengri from the base camp (4000 m) to the summit (7010 m) in just seven hours and 40 minutes. In the same year, after five days without additional oxygen, he reached the summit of Mount Everest at over 8000 m with Simone Moro via the southern route. It was also planned in this expedition to climb the Lhotse.

Lhotse (2001)

A year later, in 2001, the first winter ascent of the Marble Wall (6400 m) in the Kazakh part of the Tian Shan was carried out together with Moro in an alpine style and in just two days without prior acclimatization. The mountain is one of the northernmost and most remote six-thousanders in Central Asia , but it only took them eight days from Almaty to the summit. Then it went on to another Everest-Lhotse crossing, during which he reached the Lhotse alone. Moro used his strength for a summit success during a nightly rescue of the English mountaineer Tom Moore at an altitude of over 8000 m. Urubko then refrained from going it alone to Mount Everest, he wanted to try the crossing again with Moro.

Hidden Peak and Gasherbrum II (2001)

In the same year the Lhotse ascent reached Urubko with the National Kazakhstan expedition nor the Gasherbrum I on the Japanercouloir and Gasherbrum II . So he managed a total of three eight-thousanders in one year. He climbed Gasherbrum II from 5800 m to the summit in seven hours and 30 minutes. The descent took four hours.

Kangchenjunga (2002)

After further ascents in Kazakhstan together with Moro, the ascent of the Kangchenjunga over the southwest face during the Kazakhstan Kangchenjunga Spring 2002 Expedition and the Shishapangma Middle and Main Summit in 2002, Urubko had already climbed three of the four highest mountains in the world. On May 19, 2014 he reached the summit again, this time over the north face.

Broad Peak and Nanga Parbat (2003)

For 2003 a Pakistan “three in one” expedition to Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak and K2 was planned. In addition to the entire national military team, mountaineers from other nations were also allowed to take part in this Kazakh expedition, including Moro, with whom Urubko climbed Broad Peak via the normal route. The expedition was also successful on Nanga Parbat via the Kinshofer route. A variant of this route was completed by Jean-Christophe Lafaille and Ed Viesturs , but only in part by Moro. The K2 was not used for the time being. Urubko first tried to reach it with the Winter Polish Expedition at the end of the year over the north ridge, but did not get above an altitude of 7750 m.

Annapurna (2004)

In 2004 a spectacular first ascent on the Baruntse (7220 m) with Moro and Bruno Tassi was achieved by reaching the 7056 m high northern summit ( Baruntse nord , also called Khali Himal ) over the northwest face. The route was christened “Ciao Patrick” and thus dedicated to the failed alpinist and mountain guide Patrick Berhault . This ascent also won the "Russian Alpinism Championships", the "Piolet d'Or" of the East, so to speak. In 2004 Urubko came to Annapurna with Simone Moro . Moro had to give up due to stomach problems, but Urubko reached the summit alone at 1:20 a.m. These intense experiences of absolute exposure, the moonlight and the stars within reach, changed his life, according to interview statements. This year there was another peak Lenin winter ascent.

Broad Peak (2005)

With Serguey Samoilov , he managed to climb Broad Peak in alpine style in 2005 via a new route in the southwest face. Urubko stood on the summit for the second time. Mario Merelli , Domenico Belingheri , Stefano Magri , Marco Astori and Matteo Piantoni , who climbed Broad Peak via the normal route , also took part in this Italian-Kazakh expedition led by the Italian Roberto (alias Roby) Piantoni .

Manaslu (2006)

Urubko also reached the summit of Manaslu twice: on April 25, 2006 via the normal route and on May 8 of the same year via a new route in the northeast face , each time together with Serguey Samoilov as a two-man expedition ( Manasly Kazakhstan Expedition ). On September 14th Urubko set the world record in speed climbing on the Elbrus in three hours, 55 minutes and 58 seconds from Azau (2400 m) to the Elbrus west summit (5642 m).

Dhaulagiri and K2 (2007)

This was followed in 2007 by the Dhaulagiri via the normal route (north-west ridge) and on October 2, 2007, the K2 via the Japanese route on the rarely-used north-west ridge, again as a two-man expedition with Serguey Samoilov. Never before had the summit of K2 been reached so late in the year. This ascent is undoubtedly one of the great alpine achievements in the Karakoram.

Makalu (2008, winter 2009)

Urubko also climbed the Makalu summit twice: the first time in spring 2008 with Svetlana Sharipova , Boris Dedeshko and Eugeny Shutov ; the second time the following winter, on February 9, 2009, with Simone Moro. This was the first winter ascent of Makalu, on which many well-known mountaineers had failed before. This outstanding achievement was honored with the Swiss Eiger Award 2009. This year he managed to climb the eight female climbers peak in the Tian Shan in alpine style .

Cho Oyu (2009)

He reached the summit of Cho Oyu in alpine style on May 11, 2009 via a new direct route through the southeast face together with Boris Dedeshko . According to his own statements, this was by far his most difficult and dangerous adventure in the Himalayas due to overhanging rocky areas, with the multiple necessary changes between shell shoes and sport climbing slippers, the avalanche-dangerous slopes and bad weather conditions. During the ascent, he realized that many mountaineers had already died under these conditions. This achievement was awarded the Piolet d'Or Asia 2009 and the Piolet d'Or 2010.

With the successful ascent of Cho Oyu, Denis Urbko was the 15th climber to climb all 14 eight-thousanders and as eighth without the aid of additional oxygen.

Lhotse (solo 2010)

In 2010, despite extreme wind conditions, the first single ascent of an intersection parallel to the ridge from Mount Everest south saddle ( South Col , Camp 3, C3) to the Lhotse main summit was successful during an expedition with Simone Moro.

Gasherbrum II (winter 2011, summer 2019)

On February 2, 2011, the Gasherbrum II was the first winter ascent of an eight-thousander in the Karakoram, together with Simone Moro and Cory Richards . The journey to the base camp was made by helicopter, the lowest temperature was −48 ° C. It was the only successful winter ascent of an 8000er that year.

In 2019 he single-handedly opened up a new route on the mountain from July 31 to August 1.

Trials (winter)

On December 26, 2011, Urubko and Simone Moro set out to attempt the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat via a new route, as the Kinshofer “normal route” seemed too dangerous on site due to the ice conditions. After the base camp was set up at an altitude of 4200 meters on January 3, 2012, three more camps could be built up to a height of 6600 meters. From January 27th, however, persistent snowfall thwarted any further ascent or summit attempt. On February 15, due to the consistently unfavorable weather forecast, the decision was made to terminate the expedition. Lowest measured temperature: −41 ° C at the level of camp 3, in base camp −26 ° C.

In the winter of 2018, as a participant in the Polish K2 winter expedition, he made headlines with an attempted solo ascent.

In winter 2020 he wanted to climb Broad Peak together with Don Bowie and Lotta Hintsa. After Bowie became sick with heights and had to be brought to base camp by Urubko, whereupon Bowie and Hintsa were brought to Skardu by a helicopter belonging to the Pakistani Army. Urubko then started an attempt on his own in adverse weather conditions. He was swept away by an avalanche, but made it back to base camp on his own.

Ascent statistics

  • around 1500 ascents
  • 34 solo ascents
  • 32 ascents of the highest quality according to the CIS classification
  • 5 six-thousand-meter ascent
  • 11 seven-thousanders
  • 21 successful eight-thousander climbs


  • Golden Piton 2011 from Climbing magazine
  • Piolet d'Or 2010
  • Eiger Award 2009
  • Piolet d'Or Asia 2009
  • Bearer of the Snow Leopard Order
  • Four times UIC Alpinism Champion in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan
  • Best Kazakh mountaineer in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
  • Winner of the Kazakh speed climbing competition on Amangeldy Peak (3999 m) in 1997, 1998, 1999
  • Second place in combined sport climbing competitions (speed and rock climbing) in 1998 and 1999
  • Captain of the Kazakh national mountaineering team

See also

Web links

Commons : Denis Urubko  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Stephanie Geiger: Denis Urubko leaves the high mountains, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , February 21, 2020
  2. Stephanie Geiger: Dramatic Rescue from Schicksalsberg , Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , January 28, 2018
  4. Eberhard Jurgalski : ascent data Urubkos on
  5. ↑ Extreme climbers make their first winter ascent in the Karakoram. In: Spiegel Online . February 3, 2011, accessed February 4, 2011 .
  6. Denis Urubko with a solo first ascent on Gasherbrum II (8034 m). August 6, 2019, accessed August 6, 2019 .
  7. on BBC News