Jerzy Kukuczka

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Jerzy Kukuczka
Jerzy Kukuczka Mount Everest 1980.jpg
Jerzy Kukuczka on Mount Everest, 1980
Born (1948-03-24)24 March 1948
Poland Katowice, Poland
Died 24 October 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 41)
Nepal Lhotse, Nepal
Occupation Mountaineer
Kukuczka on graffiti in Katowice

Jerzy Kukuczka (24 March 1948 in Katowice, Poland – 24 October 1989 Lhotse, Nepal) was a Polish alpine and high-altitude climber. Born in Katowice, his family origin is Goral. On 18 September 1987, he became the second man (after Reinhold Messner), to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders in the world, it took him almost 8 years. He is the only person in the world who has climbed two eight-thousanders in one winter. He ascended four eight-thousanders in the winter altogether, including three in winter for the first time. Along with Tadeusz Piotrowski, Kukuczka established a new route on K2 in alpine style (the so-called "Polish Line"), which no one has ever repeated.

Eight-thousanders[edit]

Kukuczka is widely considered among the climbing community to be one of the best high-altitude climbers in history.[1] He ascended all fourteen eight-thousanders in just seven years, 11 months and 14 days - He held the world record for shortest time span to summit the eight-thousanders for nearly 27 years until May 2014 when Kim Chang-ho beat his mark by one month and eight days.[2] Unlike many prominent high-altitude climbers of his time, the routes Kukuczka chose on the Himalayan giants were usually original, many of them first ascents and often done in the grip of winter wind and cold.[3] During his career, Kukuczka established ten new routes (still unbeaten record) and climbed four summits in winter. He was one of an elite group of Polish Himalayan mountaineers who specialized in winter ascents (called Ice Warriors).

In an era in Poland where even the most basic foods were scarce, Kukuczka was able successfully to mount and equip numerous ventures to the far-flung reaches of the world. Usually pressed for cash and equipment, he painted factory chimneys to earn precious złotys to finance his mountaineering dreams.[4]

Year Location Mountain Route Comments
1979 Nepal Lhotse West Face Normal Route
1980 Nepal Mount Everest South Pillar New Route
1981 Nepal Makalu Variation to Makalu La/North-West Ridge New Route, Alpine Style, Solo.
1982 Pakistan Broad Peak West Spur Normal Route, Alpine Style.
1983 Pakistan Gasherbrum II South-East Spur New Route, Alpine Style.
1983 Pakistan Gasherbrum I South-West Face New Route, Alpine Style.
1984 Pakistan Broad Peak Traverse of North, Middle, Rocky and Main Summits New Route, Alpine Style.
1985 Nepal Dhaulagiri North-East Spur Normal Route, First Winter Ascent.[5]
1985 Nepal Cho Oyu South-East Pillar Second Winter Ascent
1985 Pakistan Nanga Parbat South-East Pillar New Route.
1986 Nepal Kanchenjunga South-West Face Normal Route, First Winter Ascent.
1986 Pakistan K2 South Face New Route, Alpine Style.
1986 Nepal Manaslu North-East Face New Route, Alpine Style.
1987 Nepal Annapurna I North Face Normal Route, First Winter Ascent.
1987 China Shishapangma West Ridge New Route, Alpine Style, Ski Descent.
1988 Nepal Annapurna East South Face New Route, Alpine Style.

He climbed all summits, except for Mount Everest, without the use of supplemental oxygen. Above 8000 at Everest benefited from the support of the bottled oxygen, because in 1980 they did not know yet the exact impact of prolonged hypoxia to the brain. It was believed that hypoxia may cause irreversible changes in the brain.

Death[edit]

Kukuczka died attempting to climb the unclimbed South Face of Lhotse in Nepal on 24 October 1989. He was leading a pitch at an altitude of about 8,200 meters on a 6 mm secondhand rope he had picked up in a market in Kathmandu (according to Ryszard Pawłowski, Kukuczka's climbing partner on the tragic day, the main single rope used by the team was too jammed to be used and the climbers decided to use transport rope instead). When he lost his footing and fell, the cord was either cut or snapped from the fall, plunging Kukuczka ~2000 meters to his death. Kukuczka's body was never found, but the official version was that he was buried in an icy crevasse near the place of fall. Such a step was dictated by the need to find the body to pay compensation to the deceased's family.

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Kukuczka, Jerzy (1992). My Vertical World: Climbing the 8000-Metre Peaks. Mountaineers Books. p. 189pp. ISBN 0-89886-344-9. 
  • Wąsikowski, Piotr (1996). Dwa razy Everest. PiT. 
  • Kukuczka, Jerzy (1990). Na szczytach swiata. Krajowa Agencja Wydawnicza. p. 193pp. ISBN 83-03-03166-X. 

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Doubrawa-Cochlin, Ingeborga. "A Tribute to Jerzy Kukuczka (1948- 1989)". The Alpine Journal: 32–34. ISSN 0065-6569. 
  2. ^ Korean Everest Sea to Summit marred by tragedy
  3. ^ Ruggera, M.D., Gary (1993). "Book Reviews: My Vertical World. Jerzy Kukuczka". American Alpine Journal. 50: 300–301. 
  4. ^ Ruggera, M.D., Gary (1993). "Book Reviews: My Vertical World. Jerzy Kukuczka". American Alpine Journal. 50: 300–301. 
  5. ^ Xexplorers web:The meaning of winter in 8000+ climbing