Rescuer of French climber splits up with his Polish team

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) — A prominent member of Polish Himalaya climbers' team, Denis Urubko, who recently rescued a French climber, has split up with the team and left its base camp in Pakistan, the head of the team said Wednesday.

The team is attempting the first ever winter ascent on K2, the world's second highest peak, but hostile weather has prevented the climb so far and they remain at their mountain base, at around 4,985 meters (16,355 feet) above sea level, except for some acclimatization climbs. Their deadline is March 21, the end of Himalaya winter, and they are waiting for improvement in the weather.

Urubko, a 44-year-old Russian and Polish national, made an unsuccessful solo attempt last weekend and later decided to leave the expedition.

Urubko has said he was glad he had tried to reach the summit because otherwise he would have been "furious," but that the climb was "risky" under no visibility and return to base became the only option.

Urubko is the 15th person ever to climb all of the world's 14 highest peaks that reach above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) above sea level, and the eighth person to do that without supplementary oxygen.

Team leader Krzysztof Wielicki told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Urubko's solo outing has been done without consultation and "broke certain principles" of teamwork.

Wielicki, who has also reached all the 14 highest summits, said Urubko's own plan to climb K2 before March 1 wasn't possible.

Last month, Urubko and teammate Adam Bielecki rescued frostbitten climber Elisabeth Revol from Nanga Parbat, another Himalayan peak in Pakistan. Revol's Polish climbing partner, Tomasz "Tomek" Mackiewicz, was frostbitten, suffered from snow blindness and couldn't move from exhaustion and is presumed to have died during that summit.

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Monika Scislowska


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