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5 Famous Polish Himalaya Climbers

Polish are crazy about summiting high-altitude mountains!

Photo: Michał Bulsa / wikimedia commons (CC0 1.0)

Polish mountaineers enter the dangerous areas of the highest mountains of the world in a style that reminds a stroll on a promenade. During the wintertime, they reached the tops of all of the Asian eight-thousanders except K2. The stories about Polish mountaineers are the essence of the passion to climbing the highest mountains of this planet. If you don’t have passion, you won’t understand their desire of reaching the unknown routes surrounded by the ice, snow and extreme weather.

Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943 – 1992)

Photo: wikimedia commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A real badass among the female climbers. She began climbing on the rocks when she was a very young girl. She rode Junak, the Polish motorcycle. She was fearless, full of passion and life.In 1978 she became the third woman and the first European woman to reach the top of Mount Everest. In 1986 she successfully summited K2 as a first woman. Rutkiewicz summited also Nanga Parbat, Shishapangma, Gasherbrum I i II, Cho Oyu, Annapurna I. Finally in 1992 she decided to reach another mountain. Although the legend saying that Kangchenjunga is a cursed mountain that doesn’t like women, she decided to climb it up. The mountain took her life in May 1992.Unfortunately, nobody has ever been able to confirm if she reached the top of the mountain.

Kinga Baranowska (b. 1975)

Photo: Marek kowalski / wikimedia commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Although she has an image of a delicate blonde girl, the strength of her body is impressive. She climbs without the use of supplemental oxygen. The first eight-thousander of Baranowska was Cho Oyu.She summited it in 2003. In 2009 she officially became the first Polish woman who reached the top of Kangchenjunga, closing the story about the curse of this mountain. She also summited Nanga Parbat, Lhotse, Gasherbrum II, Dhaulagiri, Annapurna, etc.

Adam Bielecki (b. 1983)

Photo: Aggna Bielecka / wikimedia commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The youngest of the most famous Polish mountaineers. He was the youngest person to climb Khan Tengri in alpine-style at age 17. In 2011 he summited Makalu, and a year later Gasherbrum I. In 2012 he successfully summited K2 during the summertime. He was one of the climbers who reached Broad Beak in 2013. During the expedition, two of three of his colleagues lost the life.
On January 2018 along with Denis Urubko made a heroic fight for the life of the climbers Elisabeth Revol and Tomasz Mackiewicz on NangaParbat. They climbed over 1000 meters through the night to reach Revol. Although they didn’t succeed in saving Mackiewicz, they were called „Ice Warriors” and received lots of words of appreciation from all over the world.

Jerzy Kukuczka (1949 – 1989)

Photo: Michał Bulsa / wikimedia commons (CC0 1.0)

Legendary mountaineer whose achievements made him one of two the most famous climbers of high-altitude mountains. Kukuczka is the only person in the world who has climbed two eight-thousanders in one winter. He also Kukuczka established a new route on K2 in alpine style, now called “Polish Line”, which no one has ever repeated. Kukuczka was the second man after Reinhold Messner, to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders. In less than eight years he enjoyed the view from the tops of the highest mountains of the world. He died on Lhotse while attempting to climb the unclimbed Soth Face. His body has never been found, but according to the official version he was buried in an icy crevasse.

Denis Urubko (b. 1973)

Photo: Andrei Starkov / wikimedia commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The most controversial mountaineer of Poland. He was born in USSR, but in 2015 he received Polish citizenship. Therefore not everybody agrees he can be called a Polish. He is known for 19 ascents of 8,000-metre peaks. After he summited the five 7,000 meter peaks of the former USSR in only 42 days in 1999 he started to be called „Snow Leopard”. Recently he made a single try of summiting the top of K2. He climbs without additional oxygen, sometimes he chooses to make solo tries, but he also collaborates with famous climbers like Simon Moro.

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