Denis Urubko (Kazakhstan) and Simone Moro (Italy)

Makalu Winter climb.

January-February 2009

Expedition sponsors : The North Face, Central Sport Club of Kazakhstan Army, SIVERA, La'sportiva, CAMP,

Winter light on Makalu


Denis Urubko before the expedition: Makalu is the top 8463 m high. Nobody climbed it in Winter. Last winter the team of Central Sport Club of Kazakhstan Army tried to climb the normal route on Makalu in the beginning of 2008, but retried. I tested there the clothing of Sivera company for the first time - in so terrible conditions...

13.02.09 Simone Moro: Today we arrived in Kathmandu coming directly from Hillary Base camp at 4800 m. Why? After our winter climb of Makalu and our fast return in ABC I started to feel cold to my feet and I lost only partially the sensibility of my toes. That Why I contacted some doctors and they advised me to make some injection of Eparin and AVOID to trek down to the valley for 5 days and request an helicopter to avoid any complication to my feet. So I called Nima Nuru Sherpa and he organize an helicopter for me and Denis but I had quickly to organize a night trekking to the low BC, 1000 meters below the ABC. So in the darkness we walked carefully down and this morning at 8:00 a.m the helicopter came and in 1 hours we arrived directly to Kathmandu. Immediately I had been visited by a Doctor, specialist in frostbite, and he agreed that the helicopter evacuation had been a necessary solution. I have to visit him again Sunday and make again all the medical therapy and treatment. There is any risk for my feet but I have only to be patient for the next weeks to wait that the sensibility will return completely normal.
Jagat and Mingma (cook and helper) will start to trek down after tomorrow will 15 porters. They will arrive in Kathmandu after 9-10 days. Today we did the debriefing at the misery of tourism, tomorrow we will have a press conference and after tomorrow the meeting with Miss Hawley

10.02.09 Simone Moro: "Hello Guys. We are safe in base camp after descending 2000 meters today. Karl Gabl told us that a hurricane at 160 km/h is coming so... it had been better to come directly here. We are tired...so today I post you "only " some summit photos"

Simone Moro on Makalu summit, February 2009

Denis Urubko on Makalu summit, February 2009

Simone Moro in frozen mask< Makalu, Feb 2009

First Makalu Winter climb, near the summit

9.02.09 WINTER MAKALU SUMMIT!!! Denis Urubko (SMS 2-00 p.m. Moscow time): "We're on the summit at 2-00 p.m. local time, then descended to the tent at 7700 m. Now we have to stay alive after this night and to descend". We CONGRATULATE DENIS AND SIMONE!!!

6.02.09 Evening: I'm going sleep and tomorrow morning we will start for our summit push. We will climb for 3 days. We really don't know how we will fell above 7400 because we never slept there during this exp. and we had been only one time in that altitude 1 week ago. We will do our best. The weather forecast is good, it look that the wind should be not impossible.
For the next 3 days the blog will be not updated. My wife is in Romania for the last competition of the dry tooling world cup so she can't help me in update the blog. Ok good nigh and cross the finger for us....

Morning: Today was our theoretical day to start for our summit push. The weather is perfect, no clouds, but still strong wind above 7000 meters. Who say that? Karl Gabl, our forecast" guru" of Innsbruck. The weather forecast is like the faith in GOD. Or you believe in Him or not. Believe only sometimes is the worst think in Alpinism, so since the beginning of the expedition I decided to believe completely and follow the Karl Gabl's forecast as I did since 2003. Today we didn't see any storm on the Makalu ridge but we can hear the sound of the wind. Probably it only changed direction. So following the last information of Karl we decided to wait 24 hours more. Today and tomorrow the wind above 7000 meters should be over 100 km/h, and Sunday and Monday morning 70km/h. So our summit attempt should be Monday morning after spending the night at 7700 meters in our superlight,small, single wall tend that The North Face prepared for us. I really hope that once more Karl Gabl will be right and we will have the energy to climb so high in so cold and windy conditions:

4.02.09 From Simone's blog: Today the weather is fantastic (in base camp) and the wind continue to be over 120Km/h above 7400. So after 4 days rest we decided to make some training going to camp 1 and back quite fast: 1 hour 10 minutes to go camp 1 and 28 minutes to come back (I recorded with my heart rate monitor and GPS POLAR). Just to keep feet our muscle. It look that the weather will remain sunny and the wind should decrease the speed till 90KM/h in the weekend. So we are thinking to start Friday to camp 2, Saturday to C3 and Sunday... maybe... summit push.... It will be very important the weather forecast that Karl Gabl will send us tomorrow. We want to send our best wishes also to our friends to Broad Peak hoping that will have soon 3-4 days of good weather and low wind.
Simone and Denis

3.02.09 Video from the Base Camp

2.02.09 Second day of February and second day of live conference with The North Face during the ISPO, the international sport exhibition in Munchen, Germany. Today the weather is very good... a perfect summit day but often the weather "play" with the climber giving 24 hours of perfect weather to make the alpinist nervous... So today we enjoy the sun inside our warm tents hoping to have similar condition during our next push. Yesterday it had been also the opportunity for me to make a domestic video/audio live connection with my daughter Martina using SKYPE. It had been a nice moment and we talk a lot about everything. I also told her that during our approach to the mountain we saw a snow leopard in Hillary base camp. Yesterday the technology gave us the possibility to share nice familiar moments...

Elena: Simone, if you really have seen Snow leopard in Hillary BC???

- Yes! And me and Den! And our cook, he was very close! We've seen leopard's eyes - they were about white...

-And such a tail...

- it's not my photo, it's from Inet.

1.02.09 Today is the second of rest here in ABC at 5680 m. We came back 2 days ago fro the "gate" of Makalu La 7400 and we are now waiting for the next god weather window to climb higher.. Today the weather is not so good. Clouds and wind (but not so strong like the days before). In few minutes I will realize a video and audio live connections with the stand of The North face (my main sponsor) during the ISPO, international sport show in Munich. The technology will give us the opportunity to talk with our "world". In these days I and Denis are working a lot at PC making reports and preparing future projects...

30.01.09 Both by skipe, 5-20 pm Moscow time: Look our new pictures on Simone's blog! Denis: today was too cold! We must not get frostbites now! Simone today was about frostbitten feet. We need to care ourselves, we had to summit soon!

Simone climbs to Makalu La

Simone in 2

Storm on the way to Makalu La

Simone: Today Denis and I decided to continue in our plane despite a terrible windy night and cold temperature. Karl Gabl our friend and forecast "guru" from Innsbruck, said that today we get a -26 temperature at 7400 m and 110- 120 Km/h wind speed. If we combine the 2 things it means to feel around -40 degree sensation on the body!! That's why we fight all the day to climb the narrow and difficult gully toward Makalu La 7400 m. Our feet and hands were frozen. We stopped 50 -80 meters before the "gate" to Makalu La to avoid to be invested by a terrible hurricane and fly away:. Our objective was to test our capacity to work in such extreme conditions and do another step in our acclimatisation process. Now we are around 1000 meters below the Makalu summit and there are only 10 days we arrived at ABC. That's why we are happy about or couple work. Now we will have 4 days rest also because I have some video live connections with my main sponsor The North Face during the outdoor ISPO show in Munich.

Denis, call from BC, 2-50 pm Moscow time: Hi! We have just successful descended to BC. Huragan is at 7400. I've flown again. We had very hard night at 6900, but in the morning we didn't begin to descen but decided to go up. In the couloir we began to fix ropes, but couldn't reach the col, last 50 meters. We was obliged to turn out. But the way to the col is ready!

29.01.09 Denis (SMS, 9-48 Moscow time): Hi! We're at 6900, drinking capuchino. Windy! The weather's acceptable. Tomorrow we are going to climb further, as I have repaired a player

28.01.09 Simone: It was 3:00 a.m. when I get the line on my computer thanks the new Thuraya DSL modem just arrived few hours before. Now is a sunny morning, we took breakfast and I start immediately to work with my PC and modem to recuperate the missing time:. Tomorrow our plan I to go to Camp 2 at 6900 m than to Makalu La 7400 and go also higher if the wind will be not so impossible:
Last night had been terribly windy here in BC and really I had the sensation to fly away: I was inside my sleeping bag working with PC and Modem while the hurricane tried to destroy our ABC. Thanks God and thanks The North Face tends we have no damages and everybody and everything are safe. This morning we have sun and no wind in BC. On the mountain the wind speed looks lower than usual:.
Now I will publish some photos of our previous days:


To 7000

C 2 (6900)

Preparing puja

To C 2

Simone at 7000

27.01.09 Simone:

Finally, after 11 days waiting, the DSL Thuraya modem arrived in base camp. It had been a nightmare , in terms of communications, this first part of expedition. During the 2 weeks acclimatisation the new thurayaIP worked few days before die definitively. Despite hundreds of Phone call with the hep desk and engeniers of Thuraya, the IP modem remained died. So I requested a DSL Thuraya by DHL from Italy and it arrived 2 hours after we took off by helicopter to Makalu BC. So Nima Nuru Sherpa, leader of Cho Oyu Trekking, provided 2 local porters to ship the modem by trekking to us. With a so light weight (1,5 kg) we calculated 4 days the timing of that delivery:but we waited 11 days... The reason? The 2 porters stopped in Sidua village and get drunk and get fun for 6 days!!!
So today morning I was so nervous that I sent down in the valley one of my Nepalese staff to look for the 2 guys and he found them in Hilary base camp, very relaxed thinking to come here in ABC after 1-2 days!! My Nepalese staff "shaked them", took the modem and run back to ABC in only 3 hours and half. So now we are definitively online using the "old" Thuraya modem DSL... Now Nima is happy for us and we thank him in any case (he has no responsibility abut the delay). I think he is preparing a meeting and long discussion with the 2 crazy and drunk porters... ahi ahi ahi
About our climbing situation you should be probably be updated by the news that my wife Barbara put on my blog after our daily phone calls conversations. I and Denis reached 7100 m in 3 days only without any specific high altitude acclimatisation (we reached 5554 m in Khumbu). We spend night at 6100 and 6900 and after tomorrow we will start again hoping to reach Makalu La 7400 m and spend 2 nights. It could be the last step before the summit push. The weather is mostly sunny with clear sky but terribly windy!! Karl Gabl said that this coming week will be between 140 and 170 km/h at 8000 m!! The temperature were good but in the last 3 days dropped down a lot but inside the tend with sun we have a comfortable temperature during the day...

26.01.09 Simone: Today it's the second day that we stay in basecamp, after that three days ago we went up till 7100 meters. The weather since yesterday is bad and we didn't see any sun and so it's a little bit boring here in basecamp. Unfortunately our new satellite modem still not arrived and this makes us a little bit worry. We had incredible damage on our communication and with our sponsors. It's really a disaster that the new Thuraya modem is not working and at the end of the expedition I will not be as much diplomatic. Now I'm giving the news by satellitephone and Barbara is updating the blog. Our program is to start in two days to go up, of course if the weather allow this.
Bye Simone

22.01.09 Denis (SMS 11-45 Moscow time): "We're drinking tea, listening to Ramstine in the tent at 6900. The wind is dying, so I'm going to dig the hole for the deposit. Tomorrow we'll go down to BC. There is chocolate... I have a strange feeling - as I've never been on Makalu summit..."

Simone: Today Denis and me didn't loose the opportunity to go up high, also because there is a perfect sunny day. Meter after meter we worked up, it was so much fun, that we had to obbligate us to stop the trip when my GPS showed us 6910 meters of hight. Here we set up our tend and by looking our watch we understood that we needed only two and a half hours to arrive til here. The weeks that we past in Khumbu Valley to acclimatise were really helpfull. Tommorow we will pass the important hight of 7000 meters and than go back to the basecamp. We hope to become not too greedy of this meters that we are doing now so easy... The weather sooner or later will change , so it's better to have fun.

21.01.09 Simone: Today Tenis in me arrived easily C1. Also if we had to carry 20 chilos each we arrived at 6151 meters in less than one and a half our. Today there is a realy fantastic day, only a few wind and warm sun. A tipically summit day.... tomorrow we will reach 6800 meters, set up C2 and stay there for the night. The day after we will go over 7000 meters, always it the weather will allow us to do this.
Ciao Simone and Denis

20.01.09 Yesterday we arrived ad ABC (advanced base camp), called also British Base Camp. There we worked to realise a place for our tends and we looked to find water. At the end we could find two frozen halls and this will guarantee our water support at ABC. Today we will ascent to C1 at 6100 meters, where we will sleep and tomorrow we will try to reach C2 where we want to pass the night, if the wind does permit us to do that.

(Simone via satellite phone)

Today our program changed a little bit. Denis and me did a double trip with 20 chilos to bring our stuff from British Camp to a higher ABC. This one is more protected from the wind and we could find a lot of water. For this reason our ascent to C1 is posticipated at tomorrow. In the meantime the cook and the other porters will establish definitely the new ABC.
Bye till tomorrow

16.01.09 Denis (SMS, 9-17 Moscow time): We arrived to 4700. The strong wind, bu we feel good".

Simone: Finally today we arrived in Hillary basecamp. We used a military helicopter, that I hired in Kathmandu. I do not want to tell you how much expensive it was.... crazy, but there was no other way. Tomorrow we will start to bring our stuff to the advanced basecamp. Four porters, that came with us with the heli, will help us to do this job. Unfortunately also here, my Thuraya IP is not working. But today the new one arrived in Kathmandu and Nima will provide to send it up with one porter. He will need about 8 days for the trekking. So be patient this week, after we will have again fotos and videos.
Ciao Simone and Denis

15.01.09 " ... DHL, Thuraya, etc..."

Simone: I will be not the only one that discover, that sometimes all the bad luck find together...
This morning finally arrived my Modem in Kathmandu, after that DHL has made a good trip like this: Rome - Leipzig - Hong Kong - Bangkok - Kathmandu for a total of 4 days between air travel and customs. It arrived in Kathmandu with the operations of DHL and they did not broken their back to clear and pay the duty at the airport (as a new electronic tool is required for import tax) and then deliver the device to the undersigned. They only sayed that at 15.30 they would deliver it, but at 18.00, after repeated calls, they just told me that the at 2 p.m. in the afternoon the customs closes and that they will give me the modem tomorrow. But pity that tomorrow morning at 8.00 the military helicopter that has cost me a couple of tens of thousands of dollars will take the flight to Makalu base camp and there is no way to postpone or delay the schedule. Take it or leave it, this is the condition of the military heli MI17 (the only all over the Nepal). So this story is likely to be truly the latest dispatch. Using the satellite phone maybe I will able to send text messages or dictate a few word, but fotos and videos will remain in my camera and camcorder. Even today I have spent hours on the phone with Thuraya to operate the new and damned Thuraya IP. Superfast, superlight and super full of bad luck...
Hello there ... See you in March.

14.01.09 Simone: Today our acclimatisation period is completed. We are back in Lukla and tomorrow in Kathmandu. Our idea was to stay some more days above 5000 meters but the problem with the porters along the Makalu valley and the problem with my new Thuraya IP modem, convinced us to return back earlier to solve those problem. I fact today we get the permit to se a big MI17 helicopter from Nepaly Army to fly to Makalu base camp in the next das (I didn't know yet the price...). In the same time the Italian Thuraya dealer named "Intermatica", sent me by DHL a new sat modem to replace the other that I have with me here, that work only few minute per day and than "die" for 24 hours. So in few days we should be in Makalu BC and than start or attempt. I hope to get the modem before or helicopter flight...

Again In Kathmandu after 10 days spent in the Everest region to trek and acclimatizing. Our flight back to here is because our porter didn't arrived till Makalu Base camp due the deep snow. So the 16th January we should fly with the Russian helicopter MI17 I hired from Army till Tashigaon, where all the equipment and ou kitchen staff are and than directly to Makalu BC. These few hours here in Kathmandu will be used to take a hot shower, buy the last remaining things and wait the new modem coming from Italy by DHL. I hope will arrive in time:. At the 16th January should start our "games" on Makalu:

Denis: Simone and me are back in KTM, we've found the heli, and day after tomorrow will fly to BC. We feel well, I was ill last days, but now feel good. There's a winter in Himalaya, huge snow flags are at Everest and Lhotse: there's a huragan on the tops. We were three nights in CHukung (4800), I was two times run to 5600. We wanted to go up to 6100 and spend night there, but had to return to KTM. Khumbu Valley is empty, no tourists, lodges are closed, their
owners are in Kathmandu spending money. Only Catholic missioners are
going with their bielives. Simone and me are ready to fight "to the last cartridge". The main thing we need - two or three days of good weather, without the wind, bringing down. And we will win. La-Sportiva has sent me new high-altitude boots Olimpus Mons Evo.
Great!!! Shortly if we'll have some problems, not because of equipment.

12.01.09 Again in Namche after 2 days trekking down from Chukhung 4730 m. We used a horse to transport our load because we didn't found porters in so short time. We are going back to Kathmandu where our friend Nima is trying to organize big helicopter to Tashigaon (where our expedition load are with our cook and kithchen boy) and than to Makalu BC. We have no news about Nima but we hope he is finding a solution with the one of the 2 big helicopter working in Nepal. Since the beginning of expedition I'm fighting with my new modem Thuraya. I can have only 5- 10 minutes internet and than the modem stop to work. That time is just enough to rush in sending you the daily reports. I would like to post also videos but I need a longer time and modem actually doesn't give more. I'm in contact with Thuraya to solve also this problem.

10.01.09 A winter expedition is always a night mare. Always!! What yesterday I was worry that could happen, it happen!! The porters stop their work in transporting all the loads to Makalu base camp and refused to continue. Due 1 meter of fresh snow and difficulties in braking trail, they decided to run back! Jagat Limbu, my cook and sirdar, phoned me by thuraya (thanks God I gave him one to be in touch daily) updating me about that bad news and asking me a prompt answer... I told him that I understand the situation, that I located them on the Makalu map that I have with me and convince the porters to go back with their individual load and not empty!! If they should leave all those gear in the deep forest it should mean that the expedition is finished and everything lost... Of course before this decision I tried to convince the porters offering more money and reduce the time of daily work but with no positive result. After 6 hours of that talk I received another from Jagat. All the porters and all the load are safe in the last village of Kauma. Now I'm thinking a solution and Nima Nuru Sherpa, leader of Cho Oyu trekking is offering all his support. In Nepal there are only 2 big Helicopter and they are always busy. Their prices are crazy... We will see what we will do. In the meantime I and Denis are in the upper Khumbu acclimatizing but my mind now is quite far looking for a positive solution for my expedition. We will see... (Tomorrow I will tell you about the problems that I daily have with the sat connection)

9.01.09 Today it had been anther "up" day. In fact this morning we decided to continue our acclimatization process continuing to go higher till Chukhung Ri summit. Our GPS recorded a very nice altitude 5555 m and we spent there 1 hour taking photos and looking around. We had so nice view. It was windy but completly dry. Now we came back to our lodge at 4735m and we will enjoy the remaining 2 hours sun Yesterday we had been in touch with our cook and Sirdar Jagat Limbu that is leading a 43 porters carovana toward Makalu Base camp. They had a lot of problems with deep snow and they are really fighting braking trail. In some point the spent 1 hour to move only 100 meters... Now the problem become bigger and bigger because the porters refuse to continue and they said that they will run back... 20 of them just did it now (I get sat call from Jagat) Shit!! Now I have to fid a solution... but which..?

8.01.09 We arrived at the last village of Chhukung at 4730 m under the huge face of Lhotse, Nuptse, Island peak and Khali Himal. The Ama Dablam View lodge will be our "base camp" for the next 5 days while we will do some treks and climbs to better acclimatize and be ready for our Makalu winter attempt that should start after 15 days.. Today the weather had been fantastic and we took a lot of photos an videos. The air is cold and we calculate that in the night the temperature should drop down till -15 / -20. During the day we enjoy the sun as much as we can. On the ridge of Lhotse and Nuptse the wind should be like hurricane and we can imagine how difficult should be there and Makalu will be the same...

7.01.09 Today it had been the most beautiful due the fantastic sunny weather. During the walk from Deboche to Dingboche we saw with any clouds, some of the highest mountain of the planet and many other famous peaks of the Khumbu valley. In Dingboche we will spend the night in a cute and small lodge with a nice veranda where we can enjoy the fantastic warm of the sun protected from the wind. Tomorrow we will go in Chhukung at 4800 m and we will stay 2 days. We will walk over 5000 meters towards Chukung Ri and the next days we will look for highest point to reach...

6.01.09 Today we left Namche Bazar and the expedition of Ines Papert. They started to go back to their base camp and we continued till Deboche at 3710 meters. Here we are in our favourite lodge of Khumbu. The Ama Dablam Garden Lodge is the most famous lode for me and Denis and many other mountaineers that came here from Everest base camp to take rest before the summit push. Here We really spent unforgettable moments with many friends. Tomorrow we will go to Dingboche at 4300 m and probably we will stay 2 more day to acclimatize well and walk on the Dingboche Ri around 5000 m.

5.01.09 Here we are in the Sherpas village at 3500 meter. In two days trekking from Lukla we arrived here. The first night we spent in Pakding at 2700 m. We reached the village in 2 hours of easy walking. Yesterday in 3 hours we arrived here in Namche bazar. I had been here for the first time in 1992 and in this 17 years many things are changed. Now the Lodge's room we stay, has the hot shower, light and electricity to charge our electronic instruments, nice and clean beds and all the comforts as the best hotel in Kathmandu. This lodge called Sherpa Lands had been owned by our friend and chief of Cho Oyu trekking Nima Nuru. We will spend here 1 more nights to give time to our body to start the acclimatisation. Today we will just take a walk to Thame hoping to meet our friend Apa Sherpa (17 times on the summit of Everest) and Ines Paper that is leading a woman expedition to Kwangde Lho 6187 m. In case we will not meet them we will come back here in Namche in time to eat a chocolate croissant and drink one cappuccino

Today we meet Ines Papert and her tam at base camp of Kwangde Lho. We invited them to come down to Namche to rest, get new nd fresh power and to take a very warm shower. They accepted immediately...

4.01.09 Denis: We are in Namche. I called to Samoilov, greated him with Birthday. The weather's very bad - the first time in the last 15 days.

1.01.09 Yesterday I arrived here in Kathmandu few hours before the new year and at midnight I was in my hotel room working at Pc:. Denis and Nima Nuru (chief of Cho Oyu trekking) pick me at the airport and after drove me at the Yak and Yeti hotel, we went to eat a good pizza to Fire and Ice Restaurant. There were 24 hours that I was travelling and I had a long wait in the Doha airport and I was dreaming for a nice sleep but when I came back in the hotel I started to work at my laptop and I stopped around 2 am. So at midnight I was not doing party, but working for my coming winter dream: Today it had been a very busy day. I wake up very early and after breakfast I meet Miss Hawley, the famous old lady (journalist) that since 1983 is following, doing interview and recording all the expedition in Himalaya. It had been as usual a nice meeting and I gave her present my new book about all the 8000 meters peak history with all the photos, all the faces and all routes of the 14 peaks above 8000 meters. I had been proud to receive her appreciation and congratulations. She was surprised about my job for that book When I finished that meeting I went to Nima's office talking about the logistic and the detailed costs of all the expedition. Than we went to ministry of tourism doing the briefing (and waiting 2 hours before to start that meeting). Than again to Nima's office preparing all the climbing equipment, food and base camp equipment. Tomorrow all those equipment will fly to Tumlingtar and Jagat Limbu (my cook and sirdar) will start to trek to base camp together his assistant Mingma and around 40 porters. I and Denis will stay one day more here in Kathmandu and than we will fly in Everest region to trek and have 2 weeks acclimatisation program.

Kathmandu. Morning. Denis Urubko: Happy New Year! Many greetings from Simone! We've met with Elizabeth Hawley today, and will have a brifing in Tourism Ministry soon. It's not so warm here, and is a holiday on the streets.


Expedition starts today. Denis Urubko: I think that will stay in Nepal till June. Now is Makalu expedition, then will be Cho Oyu with Boris Dedeshko. It's no reson to spend $2000 for the flight to Almaty and back. . "

Simone: Last days before the daparture day that is scheduled for the 30th december. I will arrive in Kathmandu just few hours before the big party for the new year... The 2nd January I and Denis will fly to Lukla and than we will spend 2 days in the khumbu valley to get acclimatisation. In the same days our Cook and all the porters will trek till Makalu base camp and prepare our base ready for our arrival.
We hope that the new year will give us a sunny winter....