This morning we talked with them and they told us how the climb was, really epic, because the bad weather reached them in the last longs and during the whole descent, which they made surrounded by the storm, with rays falling very close feeling the whole environment charged with electricity.
The ascent was carried out between August 6 and 8, on the 9th they used it in the descent . A descent that also gave emotion the poor condition of the ropes, destroyed by the abrasive granite of this mountain. Since v twenty-five years no new route in the Ushba was opened.
Days before, they climbed the road Gabriel Khergiani on the south face and Pipi he suffered the fall of a stone that left his ribs very sore he thinks he may have a fissure or a break in the cartilage that joins the rib . Despite this, he did not hesitate to accompany Denis on the new route they wanted to open. "I did not want to break Denis' dream and I agreed with him that if he could not continue we would go down. Finally I lasted up to two lengths before the top. The descent cost me, but nothing to do. "
The new route takes place in the
northwest slope and leads to the southern summit of Ushba (4,710 m.), In the mountains of Caucasus,
Georgia . They have called it "Matsoni", it has 47 long, 1,600 meters of
vertical route on ice and mixed (plus 400 meters of crossing) and
a difficulty of VII ED WI.3 – on the Russian scale its degree is 5B-). Han
two bivouacs on the way up, and one very hard -for the storm- in the
decline. They went up without a tent, only with the advance, a light sack and a
The name, "Matsoni", they have put it because that's what Georgian yogurt is called, and the conditions they found on the route reminded them.
The year past Denis and Pipi opened a route in the south of Pik Chapaev (6,372m.), Kyrgyzstan which they christened " Shashka" (2,000m, IV / 4 M4 90 °) that was selected for the Golden Piolets 2018 but ultimately did not win.
"Bad weather caught us up, getting into the whole mess, and we had to keep going up"
This is the conversation that we had this morning with Pipi, in which Denis also participated, with whom we also spoke at the end of the interview. It is the best way to know how this ascension has been in style "Denis Urubko": without water during the day (Denis keeps his theory about it, which he tells us in the interview), with very little food, filing the ice axes and crampons at meetings, using a peculiar Russian technique of ice climbing …
Pipi …. Where has Denis got you?
Haha! Go dario Darío, cloth. It has been very hard due to the conditions, we have caught a good day and the rest bad. In fact we have found people who had not been able to do anything. To us the bad weather caught us up, getting into all the fregao. And we had to keep going up.
Did you miss the weather forecast?
We knew that bad weather was coming but not so much. The forecast has not been entirely successful and caught us. We could also have gone down but decided to keep going up.
"Denis came up with the file in his pocket and was constantly sharpening ice axes and crampons"
How is the road you have opened?
It is on the northwest slope. We started to climb the glacier, but it looked very dangerous, so when we arrived at the rimaya, we decided to go to the right, to the rock, and from there they left fifteen longs until we reached the snow.
The first bivouac we did shortly before the snow. Denis chose a perfect site. We went without a tent, with the advance, that we stuck to the rock and thus we protected ourselves. We also had a light sack and a mat. As I was saying, he chose an incredible site, a very small rock ledge, under which we both went because the stone falls were impressive. In fact, one broke right over the rock that protected us. I have not been more scared in my life. All night were falling stones and more stones.
When we woke up at dawn to continue, we saw that this was a suicide and we decided to wait until dawn to get off. We were clear that if a stone came we would not see it, it was very dangerous.
We waited until five o'clock, at dawn, to go down. At that moment we saw that less stones fell due to the cold of the night; it was a good day, so we said: "We throw up, although it's late is a good time" . From there we made a half longer and reached the snow. We continue climbing through the snow and then Denis "plugged in" climbing on ice of poor quality. He climbed with the file in his pocket and was constantly sharpening ice axes and crampons.
( At this moment of the conversation Pipi asks Denis what is his opinion on that section ) " He says that for him were the normal conditions of a summer ice, with many stones and dust. "
"Denis uses a Russian technique to climb on ice"
Sharpening ice axes and crampons at meetings?
Yes, he took out the file and did it. He has come up with an ice ax he has designed with Camp. Take some special sheets. Use your own technique to climb on ice. Use a flat ribbon that goes from the feet to the ice axes. This way it makes more force with the feet than with the arms, it is doing pressure with the feet and as they are tied with the tape to the ice ax the blade is nailed with an impressive force, super aggressive.
Is it like a kind of stirrup that hangs on the ice ax?
What are the advantages of this technique?
Advances faster and tires less. Save energy in the arms. He goes nailing the crampons and then, when he presses with the feet, the ice ax is stuck in the ice. Denis says it is a technique he has used all his life in Russia. He tried to see how it worked with that ice and it was great.
You told me you were already on the ice slope …
Yes. Sometimes they fell some impressive pedrolos but we were avoiding them. Denis is a beast on the mountain, the way he moves, the way he is oriented, the way he decides, … it's incredible.
The second bivouac was made in a crevice, in a rimaya located before the last slope. There we also protected ourselves, because we were under a huge serac, and that night the storm began. It began to snow and impressive rays fell . We decided that it was safer to continue, because from the serac we were thirteen long from the pass that was already facing the last rocky ridge before the ancima. Snow avalanches fell on both sides . Denis went through the middle of where the avalanches fell, but sometimes they also fell on us. At the same time there was an impressive snowfall, with lots of blizzard. Sometimes he had an avalanche and he had to be careful because he was unbalanced. It was epic.
He started to improve time a little; When we reached the hill, it had stopped snowing. From the hill to the top there were five long rocks. The first was mixed, Denis did it, and then I was first on the rock. We scale a length of 6b. We were exhausted, very tired.
"We went up Denis style: without water to drink, eating very little and without stopping all day"
They were many hours of daily activity. The one that less 12 hours, the one that more than 20 of not stopping, style Denis, of eating very little and not drinking. We were already exhausted; Those five long rocks were complicated. I felt good but the final edge was made by Denis because in the way we did before, in the south, the Gabriel Khergiani, which is the classic, I dropped a stone and went with a rib touched. I do not know if I have a fissure. I climbed first the rock lengths to the most difficult, but in the 6b I was hit another rib on the rib and Denis continued to the top by the edge. We reached the top at nine o'clock at night, but there was fog and it was still snowing at times. A cold and wind tremendous.
(Denis is heard saying Happiness!) "Yes, Denis says what happiness. He has plenty of energy Hahaha! "
My mother, it was nine o'clock at night and it was super dark. We started to descend following the route we knew of the other route we had made on the south side. The good thing was that: we knew the descent. Although in the dark it was very difficult to find the route. We stop going down about 4,500 meters. Again storm and snow. Mogollón wind, we saw nothing with the fog, the rays fell super close and we thought we had to stop anywhere.
We settled in a very precarious place we covered ourselves with the advance of the store, we put the mat and we could not even put it in the bag. This is how we spent six hours of true Calvary covered in snow, shivering and holding each other. As we saw that the weather did not improve, we told ourselves that we either left or stayed there. And in the middle of the snowfall we picked up everything and started rappelling.
Denis went first, between the two of us trying to remember the descent, where the meetings were, but with the fog it was very complicated. Rays fell to the side. We looked like crazy going down like this but we had to get out of there as it was. Everything was electrified. We went down little by little and decided that even if we had to throw the next 24 hours we could not stop because we were soaked and exhausted. We could not spend another night like that because the sack was wet. You had to get there as it was.
We threw ourselves twenty-odd hours. There came a time that we were going very fast. The truth is that f we united super synchronized doing the maneuvers. All very well, very correct and we had no problems. The only thing: the cold, the lack of visibility and the snow, but we did not stop. As automatons down and we arrive at 10 pm to the moraine. We pack all, we take off the crampons and already to the town (Mazeri).
We arrived at the hostel where we are now at 02.30 in the morning. A little odyssey everything. Stunning exhaustion.
How many days of activity have you been?
Three days going up, on the third we made the top and part of the descent, and the fourth, on the 9th, the rest of the descent .
Denis: "I dreamed of climbing this mountain for more than twenty years"
Have there been many rappels of descent?
To the rise 48 long and 1,600 meters, and to descend a non-stop of rappels. There were times when we went together, by easier way, by detouring, until we rehooked the rappels. From the top it was mostly mixed and then, the last part before reaching the Morrena, descending by some ice slope. To me I thought it was a very technical mountain . You have to control everything very well, I tell you about the routes we have climbed, as there are other routes that are more compact.
Incidentally, the translation of Ushba is "witches' party."
How is the Ushba?
(You hear Denis say something to Pipi) "Denis says he dreamed of climbing this mountain for about twenty years. And that thank God has had this wonderful Andalusian companion. "
Now it is Denis who gets on the phone to tell us :
For us this ascent with this bad weather is a super good training for Cerro Torre and the G2 which are our projects next year.
It was very important to check the condition of the ice, the falls of stones, etc. The seracs were very dangerous and the weather forecast was very bad. The first night we talked and decided to continue.
Denis re-passes the phone to Pipi ….
As far as I'm concerned you have been a totally epic ascension …
Denis says that about 25 years ago nobody opened a new path in the Ushba, variants had been opened, but a new path was not.
The beginning, the whole stretch of rock of the first part we enjoyed. It's granite; We did it very well because before coming, in Italy, we climbed a lot in granite areas, which has been very good training for climbing here.
We started the ascent by that rock wall. It is true that it took us much longer than we thought and we made good progress but with care. The first day we did not reach the goal we had set, but we were happy, we had done everything correctly. We had no reference to the rock area. So between the two we analyzed where to go up. We were super according to the line we had to follow. The first bivouac we did was on the ledge that told you. Apart from the rock fall, the weather was good, we were not cold and there was a beautiful sunset. We had doubts, in the early morning, when we thought about getting down because it was playing without any sense.
But when they stopped falling stones was good weather. We said "let's see if we can get to the top, even if it's time to get off in bad weather we know the descent"
The granite is so sharp that the descent was done with the strings destroyed. I thought that at any moment one of us was going down.
"I wore tight-fitting cat feet, no socks, and my feet did not feel them, but we gave it our all"
And, in addition, you did the descent with the storm …
The storm caught us going up. When it started to get very bad it was five in the afternoon, and we had to stop because from there up we did not have a place to bivouac. We stopped below the serac. Actually what we had was a shovel with a lot of ice slope to the hill and then the final edge, which we thought would be easier. But do not see the long little ones! I wore tight-fitting cat feet, no socks, and my feet did not feel them, but we gave it our all. In the snow shovel we got a brown : avalanches and snow falls fell …
Did you keep going up despite the avalanches?
Yes . Going down there was crazy, because even to reach the serac and the rimaya we made a rappel passing some cracks that you can not see. It was much worse to go down.
So high did you use cat feet?
Yes, on the edge we climbed a length of 6b. A super fine journey with some steps collapsed. If there had been enough crack to do it in artificial, I would have done it with boots, but there came a time when I had to turn aside and make a crossing because there was a place where it could not be progressed or artificial. He had it very clear: with the foot of a cat.
It's been a great adventure you've lived.
A lot, a lot. We talked about it and we said: "This climb in good weather would be very different" nothing to do with the conditions in which we have climbed in the final part and in the descent The mountain in bad weather is a completely different world.
It seems that the most dangerous thing has been the descent, right? With the storm …
On the climb there have been stretches with very dangerous moments due to falling stones Then, up to the hill, it was very dangerous because of the avalanches and the storm that we had there too, La down was very hard also because of the storm and the constant snowfall, we did not see anything. in which we have done it has been very hard. We are both super skinny the harness was falling, Denis was always tying the buckles on his legs because they were getting big.
It's been an incredible adventure  7]already this mountain is demanding. I was surprised on the route we took on the south side, the Gabriel Khergiani. It is a way that easily has nothing.
"We drank at the bivouac and before leaving, but not during the climb, we have not brought water any day."
Incredible that you would notice the weight you were losing …
Yes, we have not stopped. Denis also says that you have to eat little or nothing when you are doing activity and drinking the same (to save weight and gain time).
In twelve hours we ate a little, at the beginning and then on arrival. We used to put a nut in our mouths, but in twenty hours we would eat once or twice, and drink nothing. We left without water. We drank at the bivouac and before leaving, but not during the climb, we have not brought water any day. On the way down we were going to suck the stones. On the rise, if we saw trickles that fell, too, but once we reached the snow no longer. Only when we stopped.
What to go without water why? In the bivouac you could fill the canteen and bring water for the day …
We did not even have a bottle. We took the kitchen to melt water when we stopped …
Denis and the canteens are scolded, they are incompatible …
On the road Gabriel Khergiani yes I took it. In the meetings I was drinking a few drops, but not here. We went with the super told weight, we had some backpacks, especially Denis, who came with a superhuman backpack. I also carried a lot of weight for my height, but less than him.
On the descent, when there was already vegetation, we found some bushes with red fruits, similar to blueberries. We almost did not take them by hand, directly from the branch to the mouth to refresh ourselves, to drink something, because in the end we ran out of food. The descent was whole without food, already to zero.
In the hostel it is amazing how they have looked after us all the time. L we arrived at two thirty in the morning and they were very worried. They all got up; the grandfather, the aunt, the lady of the house … They immediately brought us dry clothes, slippers, socks and they started to prepare hot food and drink for us. The people of Georgia have behaved well with us. They have been incredibly kind, loving and attentive. We are very happy.
"There comes a time when tiredness makes you hesitate in very simple maneuvers, in an absurd way"
What has this ascension represented for you?
After the road we opened last year in Pik Chapaev, I told myself that I was not going to live something harder or harder but Denis I played it again Hahaha!
This way is much more technical than the one we open to Pik Chapaev [“Saber” -2.000m, IV/4 M4 90°-]. That was tough because of the cold and the height, but this has been very technical, has required a lot of concentration to not have a single failure .
At each step we had to have a lot of control, There was a brutal tension. There comes a time when fatigue makes you hesitate in very simple maneuvers, in an absurd way. Doubts, for example, of if you are having a good time with the descender. You have to be on a constant alert because it is very easy to have a flaw in any nonsense that can cost you super expensive. For me it has been a brutal learning.
Have you crossed a barrier that you did not know?
I could not imagine how much my body could hold and function.
The descent that has been as risky as in the Pik Chapaev?
No, because as we decided not to go down the same way, which was very dangerous, we went down the face south, and the south face is not ice like the route we have climbed. It's all rock, and there were pythons, pieces of rope passed through rock. A normal descent until reaching the final stretch; before reaching the moraine, we had to descend 400 meters of snow, but we did it without doing rappels. We destrepamos the two strung descending face to the wall.
Denis Urubko: "It's one of the climbs that has consumed me the most energy"
We asked Denis, who has followed the conversation on several occasions, to get on the phone to get his impressions.
Denis, what has been you are climbing?
I am very happy to team up with Maria, who reacts in a way very similar to me and with whom I share the same emotions. He is very brave and I am very happy about it. For me it is very good and important to have climbed this mountain for the second time because I am looking for the happiness of my companion and I see that it goes in parallel with achieving many other things.
Has been one of your climbs more difficult?
I can not tell you if it is one of the most difficult but one of those that have demanded more energy. In three days we have consumed a lot of energy.
How is this mountain?
It was explored 200 years ago by German mountaineers. It is the great symbol of the Caucasus mountains. In Georgia they say that even if you climb Everest, if you do not climb the Ushba, you are not a mountain climber. Because the Ushba is the most important mountain for the Georgians.
I thought it was strange the technique you use to climb with the crampon and the ice ax.
It's not strange, in Russia It is very used.
Why does that style of yours go without water?
It's not my style, it's normal because that way you carry less weight and spend less time and gas in boiling the Water.
What's your next project?
We plan to go climbing to Patagonia in December and January.