Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz

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Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz
BornBirmingham, 1942
Death17 October 1978, Annapurna
OccupationMountaineer, Painter, Teacher

Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz (1942–1978) was a British climber, mountaineer, painter and lithography teacher.

Climbing career[edit]

Alison began climbing in Wales, England and the Alps, and was known for her early commitment to the alpine style making ascents of the North Pillar of Palü, the Triolet and Les Courtes. In the Tatras, Poland she climbed the eastern wall of the Mnich, the northern wall of Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka, and a winter ascent northern wall of Niżni Rysy and Mieguszowiecki Middle (first winter ascent).[1]

In 1972, participating in the Polish expedition in Hindu Kush, she ascended Aspe Safed and Noshaq and was subsequently selected for the 1975 Polish Gasherbrum Expedition. She made the first ascent of Gasherbrum III (7952m) and the first female-only ascent of Gasherbrum II (8,035m),[2] also gaining the British height record for women. As a result, she was one of the first women to become a member of the Alpine Club.[3]


In 1978, she took part in the first women's expedition to Annapurna, where she was regarded as one of their best climbers. The expedition was fraught with problems, with multiple avalanches causing severe delays in their progress. She wrote to her husband "It's the most dangerous mountain I've been on".[4]

During the expedition's second summit push, she and her climbing partner Vera Watson died as a result of a fall on an ice slope near camp V. Her body was found next to a crevasse a few days later.[5][6]

A memorial fund, administered by the Mount Everest Foundation, was created in her memory. Its aim is "to provide grants to further British and Polish women's mountaineering in the world's greater ranges, ie: further afield than the Alps".[7]

Personal life[edit]

She was married to Janusz Onyszkiewicz, her frequent climbing partner.

Notable climbs[edit]


  1. ^ Ives, Katie (11 April 2017). "An Oral History of the First U.S.—and Female—Ascent of Annapurna". Outside Online.
  2. ^ "Women on Annapurna". Himalayan Journal vol.38/8.
  3. ^ "Chadwick, Alison (died 1978)". Mountain Heritage. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Vera Komarkova Obituary". The Independent. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz, 1942-4978". American Alpine Club. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  6. ^ Vera Komarkova (1979). "American Women's Himalayan Expedition, Annapurna 1". American Alpine Club. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  7. ^ Bill Ruthven. "Alison Chadwick award for women". The British Mountaineering Council. Retrieved 16 May 2018.