Polish Winter Expedition ends

March 6, 2018

The Polish Winter Expedition has officially ended. They said that there were 6 reasons that they cancelled it. One can understand from these reasons why it was cancelled.

Firstly, they sent two climbers to check the conditions of the route. These were Janusz Golab and Adam Bielecki. They had to travel to advanced base camp to see what state that camp was in and see the track. Part of advanced base camp was destroyed. The ropes going to C1 were damaged. There was a high probability that all 3 camps to C3 were damaged, and the ropes were likely to be also. Thus they might have to do the whole route again. This would be time consuming and time was running out. Secondly, there was only a short weather window for the summit and that would be on the 11th of March. This was predicted to be lighter winds. Thirdly, some of the climbers felt that they had not been acclimatized. Fourthly, there was over 80 inches of snow in the last 8 days. They believed that the avalanche dangers were too great. K2 is a very steep mountain and that is a real threat. Fifthly, there was reported a large amount of rain at about 7600. This may have added to the threats of avalanche, which is a known area for that. And sixthly, there were bad weather forecasts after the 11th March. This would make it impossible to climb after this date and make the summit before the winter season ended.

They will be obviously be disappointed with this. They held a group discussion and this was what the group decided. They did have sponsors, yet it would have been an expensive expedition. There is a chance that could come back in the future though. K2 is a mountain that can reward patience.

Polish Winter Expedition

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Denis Urubko heads back to Skardu

February 28, 2018

Denis Urubko has finally left for Skardu. His climbing over the winter included a recuse of Elisabeth Revol on Nanga Parbat and making near C4 on K2, all huge achievements. He is taking with him a porter, who may need some medical treatment when they get back there.

At the moment there is no climbing dues to high winds and snow.

The rest of the climbers are healthy and will be ready for the next weather window, according to Krzysztof Wielicki, team leader.

Marek Chmielarski, Artur Małek, Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk are all recovering after acclimatizing up on higher camps. Adam Bielecki though has been recovering from a fractured nose at base camp. He has been given the all clear to climb by the team doctor. Janusz Pigeon is healthy but needs to build his energy reserves.

Polish Winter Expedition

Denis Urubko reached shoulder of K2, will tell more later

February 28, 2018

Denis Urubko said that he reached the shoulder of K2 at about 7600m. This is near where C4 is located, about 200 or more meters away normally. To do this by himself in difficult winds was quite an accomplishment. He said that the high winds and lack of visibility prevented him from going for the summit.

On the way up he was digging small snow caves in which to take shelter. He said that there was avalanche danger at around the shoulder. At one point he fell about about 5 meters caught in an apparent avalanche.

When he got to base camp he was prevented from using the WiFi there by the expedition leader. Krzysztof Wielicki said that he prevented him from using this because of the negative comments that he was making about the expedition. He was allowed though to phone his wife with their communications.

He will talk more about the expedition later. Krzysztof Wielicki said that he had full access for help to get to Skardu and tickets home.

Mountain RU

Urubko’s departure will help unify the expedition manager says

February 27, 2018

Janusz Majer, one of the managers for the Polish Winter Expedition, said that it will be a good thing that Denis Urubko has left the expedition. He said that Urubko’s latest attempt up K2 unsettled the rest of the expedition. It was unthinkable how he could climb up K2 without a radio, he said.

Before the expedition Denis Urubko said that he would let management decide how the expedition would be handled. But once at K2 things changed, he said. He believed that Urubko had a good relationship with Krzysztof Wielicki, team leader. So it surprised him when he saw how Urubko behaved and disregarded team directions. 

After he came down, Denis Urubko was very tired, he said. The winds had made the climb up very difficult. He shared a meal with other members of the expedition and they talked frankly.

On the positive side he said that all this drama has led to the team unifying. It will ultimately help them reach the top. He expects that there will be a push for the summit in early March if the weather permits.

RMF

Polish Winter Expedition to not include Denis Urubko for rest of expedition

February 27, 2018

It appears that Denis Urubko’s time as a member of the Polish Winter Expedition is over. There was a statement on the expeditions Facebook account that portrayed the rest of the expedition as not happy with him going solo in his attempt.

The participants of the Polish Winter Expedition believe that there is no possibility of cooperation anymore with Denis Urubko. This would mean that both the participants and the expedition leaders have decided not to include Urubko as part of their further plans.

The statement also says that they accept that he made his decision to go so.o up K2 because he wanted to claim the summit of K2 before the end of February.

It will be interesting to see what Urubko decides to do. If he believes that a true winter summit has to be before the end of February then he will likely head home. He may also see a lack of support as a reason to end his expedition.

It is also possible he could continue and try for the summit by himself or even possibly with support from Adam Bielecki, if he decides to team up together.

Meanwhile Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek are at about 6500m just below C2. Whereas Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk are at true C2 at 6700m above House’s Chimney. All these climbers are expected to return to base camp tomorrow.

Polish Winter Expedition

Denis Urubko retreats from higher camps

February 26, 2018

Denis Urubko has decided to turn back after making a summit bid. Presently he is at C2 at 6700m just above House’s Chimney. Clearly he did not reach the summit and might have reached somewhere around C3. He would have spent last night at C3 at about 7200m. The weather forecast was not good though for winds at this height. Possibly that is the reason that he is now coming down. Also no one has been above 7400m till this point and he may have found the climbing conditions difficult too.

Urubko left base camp without a radio. Passing one of the higher camps he was offered the opportunity to speak on the way up to the team leader but he refused.

Urubko had been feeling frustrated by the lack of urgency from the management of the Polish Winter Expedition and also the other climbers. He also wanted to climb K2 before the end of February as he believed that this would be a true winter ascent. Other climbers in the expedition disagreed with him.

If he is headed back to base camp then the reaction of the expedition will be interesting. They could see him as a solo climber rather than part of the expedition. When he did leave camp for the summit attempt he did not tell anyone he was leaving. He also may decide to make another attempt in early March as the there is predicted to be better weather.

Polish Winter Expedition

Kaczkan and Bedrejczuk reach camp 2

February 25, 2018

Marcin Kaczkan and Maciej Bedrejczuk have reached C2 on the Abruzzi Ridge. This is at a height of about 6700m. They would have had to climb House’s Chimney just before this to reach it. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek were on their way to C1 and should have reached it.

Conditions are described as good.

Presently there is no official word on how Denis Urubko is going but he would likely be about C2.

Polish Winter Expedition

Urubko starts on unauthorised summit attempt

February 24, 2018

Denis Urubko has set off from base camp on what management are calling an unauthorised attempt to make it to the summit of K2. The management wanted climbers to acclimatise before the end of February. Urubko had already done this as he reached 7400m with Adam Bielecki. He must have decided that this was a good window to try for the summit and that he was ready. Management seem very unhappy with this. They would have preferred that he work as a team on the next weather window to reach the summit.

Clearly there is some tension from his decision as the management are supporting this decision. There has been tension brewing for some time because Urubko thought that they made a mistake by climbing the Cesen Route first. He thought the accidents were as a result of the expedition not taking into consideration the winds would have. They did find more ice than expected as the snow had been blown away. More falling rocks than was expected was what they found as Urubko knew there would be.

This is a very brave decision by Urubko. He appears to be the strongest climber of the group so far and is certainly capable of the conditions are favourable. Past 7400m though no one really knows what it will be like to climb the last 1200m of the mountain. He is taking a chance that conditions will be good for climbing. If he climbs alone though it will make it harder to verify the climb.

At the same time if there are any accidents by either those acclimatising or Urubko then this could further raise tensions in the group. The other climbers are expected to support him on his way up. But they are only going to C3 at 7200m. Urubko will need to make camp at around 8000m then set off on a very long day and climb a lot in darkness if he is to climb that final stage in one day.

It is unknown at this stage if Adam Bielecki will follow him to the summit.

Polish Winter Expedition

Bedrejczuk and Kaczkan reach camp 1

February 24, 2018

Maciej Bedrejczuk and Marcin Kaczkan have reached C1 on an acclimatization phase of the climb. Tomorrow they will head to C2 at 6700m. Marek Chmielarski and Artur Małek will also leave base camp. All of these climbers have the intention of reaching C3 at 7200m to acclimatize.

The high altitude porters will also leave camp with the camp of taking supplies and oxygen to C2.

Polish Winter Expedition

Bielecki surprised by difficulties caused by the wind

February 23, 2018

Adam Bielecki and Denis Urubko have in recent days returned from a height of 7400m on the Abruzzi Ridge. Bielecki is an experienced climber in winter yet has been surprised by the difficulties going up K2 this winter.

In an interview with Montagna he says that it is not the technical nor altitude that is causing problems rather the winds at these heights. He said up to constant 40 km/h winds they can climb in with with up to 70 km/h. But anything higher than that then it is very difficult for them. They experienced winds that were stronger than the 40 km/h.

As for future plans he said that Denis Urubko is a very strong climber and on the recent climb up K2 he was trying to keep up with him.