Home BLOGSTORY Pipi Cardell and her passion for the mountains

Pipi Cardell and her passion for the mountains

by MuneebShahxad
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The Granada mountaineer isn’t just Denis Urubko‘s climbing buddy. She’s a determined and strong person who always looks for challenges that help her grow and let her appreciate the beauty of the mountains.

Pipi Cardell is joyfully celebrating reaching the summit of Gasherbrum, her first eight-thousander, at the base camp.

Some might believe that Pipi Cardell is in her position because she’s tied to Denis Urubko, both in climbing and life. Her mountain pursuits reached new heights when she teamed up with one of the top Himalayan climbers of our time. However, her connection with the mountains had been a significant part of her life for many years even before this partnership.

Pipi Cardell, born in Granada, comes from a family with a strong mountain climbing and skiing tradition. Her journey started in Sierra Nevada and expanded to the Pyrenees, Peaks, Alps, and more. Her aunt, Inmaculada Fernández, a key influence, was part of the first Andalusian female team to conquer an eight-thousander, Shisha Pangma, in 1992. Pipi joined her aunt on a trip to the Everest base camp and even climbed Cho Oyu using the regular route. However, the crowded conditions and lack of adventure at this popular peak left her with mixed feelings.

At that moment, She decided to carve her way into the mountains. She embarked on a solo adventure to the Karakoram, successfully climbing a previously untouched five-thousand-meter peak and getting close to the summit of another six-thousand-meter peak via a new route, all on her own. Overwhelmed by the emotions and beauty of the experience, he worried he might never feel such intensity again. From that point on, he was captivated by the allure of solitary peaks.

Miguel Ángel Gavilán, Pipi Cardell, and Enrique Álvarez (sports councilor) during Guadarrama Mountain Week 2023.

After sharing her story at a conference where they both spoke as mountain enthusiasts, Denis approached her and said, “You and I see mountains in the same way.” She chuckled, knowing her humble climbs were nothing compared to Denis conquering fourteen eight-thousanders without oxygen, some on new routes and in winter.

However, as time passed and they shared experiences, it became clear that beyond the impressive numbers, both found happiness in the pursuit of a solitary mountain challenge, pushing their physical and mental limits without outside assistance.

They worked together to create a new path up Chapayev Peak (6,371 m) in the Tien Shan in 2017 and another on the north side of Ushba in the Caucasus in 2018. Pipi played a significant role in tackling the challenging rock sections on Ushba. These were just a couple of their expeditions among others.

They’ve just started their plan to create a new path on an eight-thousander, beginning with their attempt on Gasherbrum I. They climbed the regular route early in the season before there was much of a trail. This achievement made Pipi the first person from Andalusia to reach this mountain. Unfortunately, challenging snow conditions, including frequent avalanches, forced them to abandon their goal of creating a new route, or rather, they’ve decided to put it on hold until they can try again.

One of her major plans is to establish a climbing school in Skardu, Pakistan, to provide education and training to aspiring climbers in the region. The goal is to provide children and young people with opportunities for technical jobs in the mountains instead of just being porters like their parents.

Currently, these parents lack the same technical training as the Sherpas in Nepal, leading to lower wages for their hard work. They’ve already set up some climbing routes on a rock wall near the town, and every time they visit, the children eagerly await with smiles and their harnesses on. Pipi expresses her intention to inspire girls as well, serving as a role model to show that women can also conquer mountains.

José Luis Rubayo, Pipi Cardell, and Miguel Ángel Gavilán participating in Guadarrama Mountain Week 2023.

Yesterday, she shared a lot more of his experiences, accompanied by nicely arranged photos and videos, at a conference as part of the Guadarrama International Mountain Week in Madrid. The event was a big success, thanks to the organizer, Miguel Ángel Gavilán, who is in charge of these days that are now celebrating their tenth anniversary. The continued support of the town’s City Council and sponsors has been crucial for this milestone.

Don’t forget, today, Sunday, December 3, is the main event featuring Italian climber Hervé Barmasse. It starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Torre de Guadarrama Cultural Center. Admission is free, but it’s first-come, first-served until all seats are taken.

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