Denis Urubko working hard as he passes Pastukhov Rocks at 15,420 feet.Photo by Dmitry Drachev, courtesy of www.russianclimb.com.
Himalayan veteran Denis Urubko dominated this year’s race up Europe’s highest mountain, 18,513-foot Mt. Elbrus in the Russian Caucasus Range. Urubko ran and power-hiked more than 10,600 vertical feet from the Azau cable-car station to the western summit of Elbrus in 3 hours 56 minutes, almost 40 minutes ahead of the next finisher. That’s more than 2,600 vertical feet an hour—try that on your Stairmaster!
Urubko, a Russian native now living in Kazakhstan, is a past winner of the occasional speed-climbing competitions on 22,950-foot Khan Tengri in the Tien-Shan Range. He has climbed ten 8,000-meter peaks, including new routes on Broad Peak and Manaslu in the past two years, both climbed alpine-style with a single partner.
The Kazakh climbers Andrey Puchinin and Svetlana Sharipova were the fastest man and woman on a shorter course on Elbrus, starting at 12,165 feet. Puchinin covered 6,345 vertical feet in 2 hours 46 minutes, and Sharipova finished third overall on the short course in 3:21:29.
In April 2006, Austrian Christian Stangl claimed a record for the Elbrus ascent by running the same route from Azau, starting slightly lower, in 5 hours 5 minutes. It seems the record is now safely in Urubko’s gloved hands.
The Elbrus races began in the Soviet era during training sessions for Himalayan expeditions. The full-length race was reintroduced last year. This year’s race drew 16 climbers from five Eastern European and Central Asian countries.Comment on this story
Twin-summited Mt. Elbrus, with the climbing route marked from about 12,200 feet to the 18,513-foot summit.Photo courtesy of www.alpineascents.com.