Luke Smithwick Thwarted on Labuche Kang III.

A walk in the park. The team at their high point of 6900 meters on Labuche Kang III East. Photo: Luke Smithwick

Last month, experienced Himalayan alpinist and guide Luke Smithwick travelled to the northern Himalaya to lead a climb of Labuche Kang III East, a virgin peak standing at 7,250 meters.
The five-strong multinational team spent some time acclimatizing in Nepal on trekking peaks, before flying to Tibet in early May. After a few days in Lhasa, they moved on to base camp, which is within 40km of the well known eight-thousander Cho Oyu.

Camp one on Labuche Kange III East. The team in high spirits before the severe beating began. Crevasse falls, full-on drenchings in hidden kettle ponds, and other delightful life experiences ensued in the following days. This is first ascent high altitude mountaineering in the Himalaya. Bring your big boy pants. Caption and Photo: Luke Smithwick

Smithwick approached the climb ‘expedition style’ by fixing ropes up the northern flanks of the peak alongside two climbing Sherpas, then the rest of the team followed. Advanced Base Camp was set at 5,258 meters, Camp One at 5,751, Camp Two a little higher at 5,995 meters, with the final Camp (Three) at 6,276 meters.

Forty degrees in average steepness doesn’t mean it was always forty degrees. A steeper section of the route, with Luke Smithwick dealing with fixing 8mm static rope for the group anchored with 22cm ice screws. Yes, that is alpine ice. This is not a snow plod. Caption and Photo: Luke Smithwick

Smithwick reported that crossing the terrain from Advanced Base Camp entailed hard work up a lateral moraine to Camp One, followed by running a gauntlet of seracs to  Camp Two. Further risk awaited en route to Camp Three, with severe crevasse danger.

Escaping the labyrinth. Getting to the upper snowfield and camps of LK3 takes route-finding skills, luck, and a willingness to keep going when it sucks. Caption and Photo: Luke Smithwick

The team made good progress, fixing ropes up steep headwall, and were within tantalizing sight of the top early on May 20:
We turned around only 400 meters from the summit after climbing for 8 hours up a blue ice wall that averaged 40 degrees in steepness.  I felt OK and able to go on… along with the two Sherpas I was working with, however our group was fairly exhausted collectively, and I was guiding, so we retreated to our Camp Three at 6,276 meters (20,486 feet).
A forecast of bad weather also influenced their decision to retreat. But those weather reports that suggested the group needed to summit by May 21 at the latest proved wrong, and the predicted storms never arrived.

6,276m Camp Three on Labuche Kang III East. Surrounding this camp, Luke made “the death circle” with one of the climbing ropes. No one was allowed to leave the circle, as the perimeter was riddled with crevasses. Two crevasse falls occurred right on the edge of this camp, and they were big enough to eat someone. Fortunately, no one was injured on the climb. Caption and Photo: Luke Smithwick

In total, the team recorded 17 crevasse falls, although none were considered “big”. Smithwick also said that they fell into water on the glacier 24 times. “You will not summit this mountain easily,” he concluded. Nevertheless, the prolific American climber plans to return to Labuche Kang III East, possibly as early as September.
The team had earlier believed the mountain was the highest open unclimbed peak in the world, but further research has revealed that Muchu Chhish in Pakistan at 7,452 meters is higher. However, not everyone, including Smithwick, believes that Muchu Chhish is prominent enough to be considered a separate peak.
[Ed: June 4. This story has been edited to reflect that Kabru, a peak on the India-Nepal border, has recently been climbed and that the jury is still out about whether Muchu Chhish is an independent peak. For a discussion of mountain prominence, see Prominence or Dominance: What Makes a Mountain]

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** see also: – Nepal Celebrates 65th Anniversary of First Ascent of Mt. Everest.

– Today is 65th Anniversary of Everest’s First Ascent.

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How important are Sherpa’s on Mount Everest?

Author : Colin Wallace.

When most people hear the word ‘Sherpa’ they think of somebody who is there to carry their bags up and down mountains like Mount Everest. However, they are so much more than this, and the majority of Sherpa’s in the Everest region actually work as guides for those climbing the mountain, and it is the porters who do the carrying. However, how important are Sherpa’s on Mount Everest? Well, there are several valid points to consider in answer to this question. Basically, in short, they are indeed very important.


Firstly, you need to think about the guiding part of their job. Unless you are in a team, or you are an expert mountaineer, you are going to find it incredibly difficult to climb Mount Everest safely. However, with a Sherpa guide you do not have to worry about this. They are experts in climbing, and their bodies are better equipped to deal with the high altitude conditions and also the harsh winter weather. This is just one of the reasons that prove why Sherpa’s are incredibly important to those who climb Mount Everest.

Sherpa porters are a little different, in that they offer a different service. A Sherpa porter carries some of your equipment, and can also help cook meals for you and other climbers. Commonly, one Sherpa is assigned to one person, although this can be different because sometimes people share the cost of the Sherpa that they hire. A Sherpa porter can be incredibly helpful if you are inexperienced at mountain climbing. The equipment that you will have to carry on your climb is usually very heavy, so having that extra pair of hands can be incredibly important when climbing Mount Everest.

Another good thing about the Sherpa’s is that they can often provide comfort to climbers who are having a hard time. Although very few of them actually speak English, language does not seem to be a barrier when it comes to looking after the climbers. As well as comfort, they can also offer a boost in morale to those who are finding it difficult to want to carry on with the expedition. It can often be hard to get this boost from other climbers, but Sherpa’s are experienced and have made the climb many times before, so they are going to find it a lot easier than the average climber.

All of these things indicate just how important the Sherpa’s actually are when it comes to climbing Mount Everest. Without them, and without a team behind you, the climb would not only be more dangerous, but also, you would probably find it hard to get motivated to want to finish the climb. When this happens, things can get very dangerous. To hire the services of a Sherpa on Mount Everest may be expensive in some cases, but it is definitely worth the extra price that you will have to pay, simply to have the reassurance that there is somebody there who will help you.

* Source : –

Mount Everest The British Story For all information concerning the British on Mount Everest, we will provide the answers to many questions. From their first expedition to those of today, you will find a comprehensive history, list of summiteers, amazing facts, a gallery and much more.

* Related Links :

Tenzing Norgay – The most famous Sherpa. /Version polish and english/

Everest Climbing Legend Missing On Baruntse.

Everest 2010: Jordan and Apa Summit!

Apa Sherpa’s new Everest record: summit number 18.

Everest 2011 season – Expeditions with any British Teams or Britons.

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The 19th Great Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity is just around the corner – it will take place on Sunday, January 9th 2011. XIX FINAŁ WIELKIEJ ORKIESTRY ŚWIĄTECZNEJ POMOCY!! /Version english and polish/.

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Memoriał im. Piotra Morawskiego 2011.

Olga Morawska wraz z Alpinus Expedition Team zapraszają do udziału w Memoriale im. Piotra Morawskiego „Miej odwagę!”. Celem Memoriału jest nagrodzenie najbardziej interesujących projektów podróżniczych, poznawczych, wspinaczkowych, narciarskich lub żeglarskich. morawski

Wyprawy można zgłaszać od 24 listopada br. w serwisie

Ogłoszenie zwycięzcy 1. edycji Memoriału odbędzie się w marcu 2011 r. podczas Festiwalu Podróżników Kolosy w Gdyni.

Po raz pierwszy zasady Memoriału im. Piotra Morawskiego zostały przedstawione przez Olgę Morawską, żonę Piotra, w marcu 2010 r. podczas festiwalu Kolosy 2009.

— Memoriał im. Piotra Morawskiego powstał, ponieważ wierzymy, że energia Piotra, jego siła i odwaga są warte ocalenia. Piotr był himalaistą i wybitnym wspinaczem. Miał odwagę, aby realizować marzenia, a swoją pasją zarażał innych. Idee, które były dla Piotrka ważne, przerodziły się w Memoriał Jego imienia, który promuje odwagę, siłę i energię, a także bezpieczeństwo. Memoriałowi nadaliśmy nazwę „Miej odwagę!”, ponieważ odwaga i pomysł na życie jest tym, czego będziemy poszukiwać u uczestników konkursu — mówi Olga Morawska, pomysłodawczyni projektu.

— Piotrek Morawski był wybitnym członkiem Alpinus Expedition Team. Znając jego plany, a także jego niezwykłe umiłowanie życia z pasją, podjęliśmy decyzję o zrealizowaniu Memoriału im. Piotra Morawskiego „Miej odwagę!” Główna nagroda Memoriału daje szansę podróżnikom, wspinaczom czy żeglarzom na zrealizowanie wymarzonej wyprawy. Dzięki Memoriałowi chcemy zaprosić wszystkich odważnych ludzi do naszego zespołu podróżników i zdobywców Alpinus Expedition Team. Wierzymy, że Memoriał Piotra zyska wielu zwolenników i fanów, co pomoże nam przekazywać jego pasję i energię dalej — dodaje Zenon Raszyk, przedstawiciel marki Alpinus.

Zasady Memoriału

Wyprawy można zgłaszać w 5 kategoriach, od 24 listopada 2010 r. do 31 stycznia 2011 r., na stronie


1. Ziemia — wyprawy w góry i z góry, po płaskim, a także te w głąb Ziemi.

2. Powietrze — projekty, których głównym celem są loty, przeloty, odloty i skoki.

3. Woda — wyprawy po wodzie i w głąb wody.

4. Ogień — wyprawy i projekty, w których najważniejsze są kipiące emocje, adrenalina na najwyższych obrotach i dużo czadu!

5. Eter — kosmicznie odjechane projekty, które wykraczają poza ramy podstawowych żywiołów.

Przy ocenie zgłoszonych wypraw będzie brany pod uwagę oryginalny, ale jednocześnie przemyślany i możliwy do zrealizowania pomysł. Wszystkie kategorie traktowane będą równorzędnie. Zgłoszone projekty będą prezentowane na stronie Memoriału i będą oceniane przez Internautów. Głosowanie rozpocznie się 1 lutego 2011 r. i potrwa do końca miesiąca. Na decyzję o wygranej wyprawie będą miały wpływ głosy Internautów (50 %) i ocena Kapituły Memoriału (50 %), w której skład wchodzą: Olga Morawska, Zenon Raszyk, przedstawiciel marki Alpinus i członkowie Alpinus Expedition Team.

Regulamin konkursu dostępny jest na stronie


Zwycięzca konkursu otrzyma honorowe, roczne członkostwo w Alpinus Expedition Team, a zwycięska wyprawa zostanie sfinansowana. Zwycięzca, jako honorowy członek Teamu, stanie się także członkiem Kapituły Memoriału i będzie miał wpływ na wybór kolejnej zwycięskiej wyprawy.

Piotr Morawski

(ur. 27 grudnia 1976, zm. 08 kwietnia 2009) — doktor chemii na Politechnice Warszawskiej, największy polski himalaista młodego pokolenia, jeden z najlepszych himalaistów świata. Zdobywca 6 ośmiotysięczników. Od 2007 roku pełnił funkcję wiceprezesa Polskiego Związku Alpinizmu. Był także członkiem Alpinus Expedition Team.

W 1995 roku ukończył kurs skałkowy i kurs taternicki. Od początku pociągało go zimowe wspinanie w Tatrach. Miał na swoim koncie wiele przejść tatrzańskich i alpejskich. Do największych osiągnięć w wysokogórskiej karierze Piotrka należą: pierwsze zimowe wejście na ośmiotysięcznik Shisha Pangma, wraz z Simone Moro, ustanowienie — nie pobitego do tej pory — rekordu wysokości zimą na K2, wraz z Denisem Urubko, a także trawers Gasherbruma I wraz z Peterem Hamorem czy pierwsze przejście południowej ściany Shisha Pangmy zimą wraz z Simone Moro.

W 2009 r., podczas wyprawy aklimatyzacyjnej na Dhaulagiri, Piotr Morawski wpadł do szczeliny lodowcowej, niestety nie udało się go uratować. Zginął mając 32 lata. Został pochowany w Himalajach.

Alpinus Expedition Team to zespół wspieranych przez markę Alpinus polskich wspinaczy i podróżników, którzy poszukują nowych ekstremalnych wyzwań, często w dziewiczych rejonach świata. Alpinus Expedition Team tworzą: Ola Taistra, Kinga Baranowska, Edyta Ropek, Jacek Kudłaty i Marcin Gienieczko.

Dodatkowe informacje: Magdalena Swoboda, tel. 692 444 289, Anna Wróblewska, tel. 697 223 850.

Źródło: –

* posty o wyprawach kliknij : Piotr Morawski

Breaking news: Piotr Morawski lost on Dhaulagiri. Piotr Morawski zginął na Dhaulagiri. /Version english and polish/

–  Piotr Morawski the famous Polish climber. /Version english and polish/

–  Szczelina – historia Piotra Morawskiego.

– web album – mBank Annapurna West Face Expedition 2008

Polish-Italian winter expedition to Shisha Pangma (8027m), 2005 /Version polish and english/


Wyprawy/List of expeditions :

* *[2008] Gasherbrum II (8035) – normal route, with Peter Hamor, summited July 6th
* *[2008] Gasherbrum I (8068) – traverse, with Peter Hamor, alpine style, beginning on Spanish route, via American route, descent by normal route (Japanese route), summited June 24th,
* [2008] Annapurna (8091) – North-West face, Gabbarou spur, with Piotr Pustelnik, Peter Hamor, Dariusz Załuski, the second repetition of the route, aborted 150 meters below the summit due to a ferocious storm on May 29th, two bivaques at 7700, just 400 meters of fixed ropes used.
* *[2008] Ama Dablam (6859) – normal route, with Piotr Pustelnik, Peter Hamor, Dariusz Załuski, summited April 3rd
* [2007] K2 (8611) – new route attempt on the West face, after fast ascent via Česen route on the south face stopped at 8000 after 30 hours, August 10th, with Peter Hamor and Dodo Kopold
* *[2007] Nanga Parbat (8125) – Diamir face, Kinshofer route, with Peter Hamor and Dodo Kopold, summited  July 14th
* *[2006] Broad Peak (8047) – normal route, with Piotr Pustelnik and Peter Hamor, during summit push on July 8th rescue action of an Austrian climber from the col at 7800, finally summited July 9th
* [2006] Annapurna (8091) – East ridge, with Piotr Pustelnik, Peter Hamor, Don Bowie, almost one week spent on the ridge above 7500, summit push on May 21st aborted below East Summit (8010), rescue action of a snowblinded Tibetan climber from the ridge. Only Peter Hamor summited
* *[2006] Cho Oyu (8201) – normal route, with Piotr Pustelnik, Peter Hamor, Don Bowie, summited April 24th
* [2005] Annapurna (8091) – South face, Bonnington route, with Piotr Pustelnik, Marcin Miotk, Vlado Štrba, aborted at 7300 metres.
* *[2005] Shisha Pangma (8027) – first winter ascent, Yugoslavian route on South face, with Simone Moro, Jan Szulc, Dariusz Załuski, Jacek Jawień, summited January 14th (with Simone Moro)
* [2004] Shisha Pangma (8027) – winter expedition, South face, Spanish route, first ascent of South face in winter season, with Simone Moro, Jan Szulc, Dariusz Załuski, Jacek Jawień, Pierre Bergeron,  Yvon Latreille, summit push on January 17th aborted at 7700 on the summit ridge (with Simone Moro)
* [2003] K2 (8611) – winter expedition, North ridge, Japanese route, the highest point achieved in winter season on K2 by climbers with Denis Urubko, camp 4 at 7650
* [2002] Pobeda Pik (7439) – normal route, with Marcin Kaczkan, aborted at 6400
* *[2001] Chan Tengri (6995) – normal route, with Marcin Kaczkan, summited

** Zobacz też:

Polskie wyprawy zimowe w Himalaje.

Artur Hajzer: POLSKI HIMALAIZM ZIMOWY – Plan rozwoju.

HiMountain winter expedition to Broad Peak – 2008/09 – part 21. HiMountain wyprawa zimowa Broad Peak – 2008/09 – cz.21. /Version english and polish/

Ice Warriors not give up – HiMountain winter expedition to Broad Peak – 2008/09. HiMountain wyprawa zimowa Broad Peak – 2008/09. /Version english and polish/

– 2007 Winter Nanga Parbat: It’s over –

Polish winter expedition to K2, 2002/3 /Version polish and english/

Polish-Italian winter expedition to Shisha Pangma (8027m), 2005 /Version polish and english/

Winter Manifesto of Krzysztof Wielicki – Manifest zimowy Krzysztofa Wielickiego /Version polish and english/

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 1

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 2

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 3

Polish winter expedition 1980: Everest – part 4

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

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** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Jerzy Kukuczka – 21 rocznica śmierci najsławniejszego polskiego himalaisty.

Dziś przypada 21 rocznica śmierci Jerzego Kukuczki

– najsławniejszego polskiego himalaisty.

Był WIELKI w czasach gdy w Polsce, jego ojczyźnie, wszystko było małe.. gdy walczyło się z komuną.. gdy walczyło się o chleb dnia powszedniego.. ON wbrew wszystkiemu zdobywał szczyty i często mieszkał na Dachu Świata.. za swą miłość do gór zapłacił wielka cenę.. zapłacił swoim życiem!!!!…

Jerzy Kukuczka – (24 marca 1948 – 24 października 1989) urodzony w Katowicach polski alpinista i himalaista, kukuczka m1jako drugi człowiek na Ziemi zdobył Koronę Himalajów i Karakorum – wszystkie 14 szczytów o wysokości ponad 8 tysięcy metrów, (pierwszy był Reinhold Messner, któremu zajęło to 16 lat, Kukuczce zaledwie 8).Spośród 14 ośmiotysięczników, które zdobył w latach 1979-1987na 11 z nich wszedł nowymi drogami (poza swoim pierwszym ośmiotysięcznikiem wspinał się albo w ekstremalnie ciężkich warunkach zimą albo nowymi trasami), 5-krotnie w stylu alpejskim, na 4 – po raz pierwszy zimą, na 1 szczyt samotnie – żaden inny zdobywca14 ośmiotysięczników nie może pochwalić się takim bilansem. Dokonał rzeczy niebywałej – w ciągu niespełna półtora roku (21 stycznia 1985 r.– 18 lipca 1986 r.) zdobył pięć ośmiotysięczników, z czego aż trzy zimą, na dwóch zaś, także na K2, wytyczył nowe, niezwykle trudne drogi.Wolno aklimatyzował się, za to słynął z ogromnej wytrzymałości psychicznej i fizycznej. Jego partnerami byli Wojciech Kurtyka, Artur Hajzer oraz Ryszard Pawłowski.

W 1988 na Igrzyskach Olimpijskich w Calgary wraz z Reinholdem Messnerem nagrodzony srebrnym medalem olimpijskim. Reinhold Messner odmówił przyjęcia medalu uzasadniając swój gest tym,że uważa alpinizm za twórczość, a nie rywalizację. Kukuczka przyjął medal, ponieważ w wyczynowym wspinaniu widział sportowe wartości co niejednokrotnie podkreślał. “W alpinizmie, jak w szachach – mówił -jest miejsce na swego rodzaju twórczość i sportową rywalizację. Gdyby jej zabrakło, być może nigdy bym się nie wspinał.” “Mnie nie wystarczy być tylko w górach – dodał później – nie wystarczy być na wyprawie.Uważam, że jeżeli się podchodzi pod górę, to z jakimś celem, a tym celem jest wejść na tę górę.” Poczta Polska wydała okolicznościowy znaczek, który został zaprojektowany przez J.Konarzewskiego. Na znaczku można zobaczyć panoramę Himalajów, podobiznę Kukuczki i jego olimpijskiego medalu.

Zginął na wysokości 8 300 metrów 24 października 1989 podczas wejścia na Lhotse nową drogą przez słynną, niezdobytą wówczas południową ścianę. Szczyt atakował wspólnie z Ryszardem Pawłowskim. Kukuczka wspinał się jako pierwszy i tuż przed granią szczytową odpadł. Lina nie wytrzymując obciążenia, pękła, a wspinacz spadł w przepaść. Po odnalezieniu ciała pochowano go w lodowej szczelinie, nieopodal miejsca upadku. Tablica pamiątkowa została umieszczona w Chukung nieopodal południowej ściany Lhotse , a także na Symbolicznym Cmentarzu Ofiar Tatr pod Osterwą.

Kukuczka tablica Chukung Pamiątkowa tablica nieopodal Chukung.

„Od śmierci w dolinach zachowaj nas Panie” – J. Kukuczka

* Sylwetka himalaisty przedstawiona jest na :

Jerzy Kukuczka – famous Polish climber /Version polish and english/

Jerzy Kukuczka – the ultimate legend part 1. /Version english/

Jerzy Kukuczka – the ultimate legend part 2. /Version english/

Jerzy Kukuczka – the ultimate legend part 3. /Version english/

Jerzy Kukuczka – the ultimate legend, part 4, final. /Version english/

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

Odsłonięto czorten Kukuczki

Najpierw za tych co w górach zostali na zawsze – uczestnicy wyprawy HiMalajska Wyprawa Ryszarda Pawłowskiego – Dhaulagiri 2008 odsłonili czorten Kukuczki.

Uczestnicy wyprawy: Artur Hajzer i Robert Szymczak, przebywający w rejonie Khumbu ( kwiecień 2008r) w ramach aklimatyzacji przed zasadniczą wspinaczką na Dhaulagiri dokonali odsłonięcia czortenu pamięci trzech polskich himalaistów, którzy zginęli podczas polskich wypraw na esktremalnie trudną, legendarną południową ścianę Lhotse (8511 m n.p.m.)

Byli to:

– Rafał Chołda, który jesienią 1985 roku, podczas odwrotu z nieudanego ataku szczytowego w zesple z J.Kukuczką i R.Pawłowskim odpadł od ściany w niezaporęczowanym terenie śnieżno – skalnym na wysokości 8000 m. Spadł w kilkukilometrową przepaść i zginął na miejscu.

– Czesław Jakiel, lekarz wyprawy z jesieni 1987 roku, który zginął raniony podmuchem fali uderzeniowej lawiny seraków na lodowcu na wysokości 5300 m w czasie podejścia do obozu I

– Jerzy Kukuczka, polski bohater narodowy, określany przez alpinistów z całego świata i specjalistyczne media jako “najlepszy himalaista wszechczasów”, który jesienią 1989 roku odpadł od ściany na wysokoći 8200 m i spadł do podnóża ściany ponosząc śmierć na miejscu. Jego partnerem był R.Pawłowski. Łącząca ich lina nie wytrzymała impetu upadku i pękła.

czorten-kukuczkiCzorten Kukuczki – Himalaje 2008

Południowa ściana Lhotse (8511 m n.p.m.) została zdobyta do tej pory tylko raz – w 1991 roku przez ekspedycję rosyjską. Atakowana była przez kilkanaście wypraw w tym 4 zespoły polskie. Mierzyli się z nia najlepsi himalaiści, w tym wyprawa kierowana przez Reinholda Messnera z udziałem sławnego alpejczyka Christopha Profita. Najwyżej wspinał się polski zespół: A.Hajzer i K.Wielicki, który w 1987 roku osiagnął wysokość 8300 m – ten fragment ściany to największe trudności techniczne jakie pokonał człowiek na tej wysokości. Trudny, nieplanowany biwak w sztormie, w dziupli lodowej zmusił himalaistów do odwrotu.

Czorten upamiętniający himalaistów, od razu nazwany czortenem KUKUCZKI, zbudowała dzięki funduszom Fundacji Kukuczki, Fundacji Wspierania Polskiego Himalaizmu im. Jerzego Kukuczki agencja Mountain Tribes Babu Sherpy za kwotę ok. 5000zł na przełomie lutego i marca 2008 roku w miejscu wskazanym w styczniu przez K.Wielickiego; u wejścia do wsi Chuckung u podnóża południowej ściany Lhotse, gdzie miały miejsce wszystkie trzy wypadki. Odsłonięcia w dniu 22 marca dokonali Artur Hajzer i Robert Szymczak, którzy przebywali w tym rejonie w ramach przygotowań do “HiMalajskiej Wyprawy – Dhaulagiri 2008″.

Blisko dwu godzinne modły w obrządku buddyjskim odprawił Lama ze świątyni w Pangboche, złożono ofiare, rozwieszono modlitewne chorągiewki a następnie po chrześcijańsku wygłoszono słowo boże i w ciszy odmówiono modlitwę. W uroczystości udział brała grupa turytów z Polski. Pod czortenem ułożono świeczkę i kwiaty przekazane przez rodzinę Jerzego Kukuczki.

Poniżej zdjęcia z uroczystości odsłonięcia czortenu Kukuczki.





Po uroczystościach Artur Hajzer powiedział:

– Rafał Chołda byl moim jedynym prawdziwym przyjacielem i partnerem od liny, z którym stawiałem pierwsze kroki w górach; miałem też honor wejść na cztery szczyty ośmiotysięczne z Jurkiem Kukuczką; południowej ścianie Lhotse poświęciłem 3 sezony (w sumie swoją “karierę”), spędziłem w niej kilkadziesiąt dni – chwile przy czortenie poruszyły mnie do głębi – wracając pamięcią do tamtych czasów i tamtych wielkich ludzi budzi się we mnie tylko żal.

Wszystkie kolejne grupy turystów z Polski prosimy o dowieszanie nowych chorągiewek modlitewnych i usuwanie starych, tych zniszczonych lub wypłowiałych.


Na zdjęciu powyżej /klikniecie 2 razy powiększa zdjęcie/ widoczna jest południowa ściana Lhotse. Oznaczono na nim :

– czerwona linia – droga polska przez płd. ścianę Lhotse

– pkt. fioletowy – szczyt główny

– pkt. niebieski – miejsce odpadnięcia Jerzego Kukuczki

– pkt. żółty – miejsce odpadnięcia Rafała Chołdy

– pkt. zielony – miejsce śmierci Czesława Jakiela

– pkt. pamarańczowy – bariera seraków, która spadła i zabiła Czesława Jakiela

– pkt. czarny – miejsce biwaku A.Hajzera i K.Wielickiego; najwyżej osiągnięty punkt (8300 m n.p.m.)

* wszystkie posty o Kukuczce : – Jerzy Kukuczka

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 3.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge.

Previous story:

Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

Today continuation of this story:

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 3.

Author : Anna Barańska

I am happy that I realized what I had planned, that is I became the first Polish female on Mount Everest ascending the North Face, especially as my professional career is not related to mountaineering at all. The most difficult preparation and work on that ascent took place in Warsaw and included working on relations with my family, finding time in my schedule as a professional (advisor in a corporate finance boutique) and a mother. The effort at the mountain was only a pleasure and satisfaction and additionally a proof that motivation is more important than the actual physical condition. I did not expect that the summit would be that accessible considering all my reservations. For me, Mount Everest was approximately 20,000 m high.

After all, my observation is that success of reaching the highest peak of the world is more and more dependent on financial resources. Himalayas commercialize every year and this is visible. So is the fact that you can almost buy the ascent regardless of obvious health problems. In this meaning Himalayas are lowering.

In my view, the climbing itself does is not a search for solitude (contrary to a common opinion that climbers look for it), it was rather a strategic game with many people around: a climbing partner, an agency team, Sherpas, multi-person groups on fixed ropes.
Moreover, the mountains have been stripped off their original mysticism since climbing became the work for some people; a trend which I regret. However, without such people my own activity in Himalayas would have been much more limited. Out of our 22-member group, the summit was reached by four people, including one who died on the descent and one with severe frostbites. It appears that the low success ratio results from the fact that especially Mount Everest is relatively frequently approached by people with fantasy and ambitions but lacking preparations in terms of climbing experience. Physical condition and sport results achieved in lowlands do not guarantee success and what really counts is the ability to acclimatize.

In addition, I wished that my few-week expedition had not caused such fierce resistance from my family resulting from exchanging the traditional role of mother and father – typically, it’s a father who leaves and mother waits for him and takes care of a baby. I would like it to be accepted normally. Regardless, I would like to dedicate my success to children of people who are passionate about extreme sports – their parents realize wonderful and ambitious plans, make their decisions in unpredictable conditions, but they still wish to be good parents. It is difficult to balance.

The most important experience is that so far I treated Himalayas as a way to prove my own strength, realize my ambitions, see my life from another perspective, but I ignored potential price of these experiences. Mount Everest brought me so close to death – Piotr Morawski at the beginning of the expedition, then Veslaw and Frank, whom I knew almost four years and who was about my brother’s age. During this expedition I spent relatively much time with him talking about plans, future, and family. All this disappeared with the news that he had not return to Camp III. Mount Everest’s North Face indeed proved to be the North one.

* Mount Everest – description of the North Side (

From BC to ABC it is about 12 miles (22km) of rugged hiking on boulders, ice and snow. The route follows the Rongbuk Glacier until it merges with the Eastern Rongbuk Glacier. ABC is on the northwestern moraine of East Rongbuk Glacier, under the slopes of Changtse Mountain. It normally takes 2 days for the first trip to ABC, then 1 day after acclimatization. ABC is the primary base for North Ridge climbers during expeditions.
North Col (Camp I) is at 7,000m. The route starts on scree (loose rocks) then leads through snow followed by increasingly steep slopes up to 60 degrees. Climbers use crampons and fixed ropes from that point onwards. It takes between 4 to 7 hours to reach the North Col depending on acclimatization and weather.
Camp II at 7,650 m initiates the “high camps”. The route is usually in snow but can be rocky since this section is known for strong winds. At almost 8,000m, most climbers now sleep with supplemental oxygen. The climb is extremely windy and the tents are on small rock ledges due to limited area. Climbers will take about 3 to 5 hours to reach Camp II.
Camp III is a short rest stop on the way to the summit for most climbers. At 8,300m, you do not want to spend a lot of time here. Climbers will have some food and water, perhaps take a short nap and start for the summit around 10:00 pm. The Northeast Ridge is a few hundred feet above Camp III.
The Northeast Ridge represents the most difficult climbing section on this route. There are three “steps” or rock climbs along the way. The first Step is difficult at this altitude but the second Step is the most challenging and requires a 10-foot rock climb to a 30-foot vertical wall. This is where the famous Chinese ladder is located and helps climbers a lot. However, this often is the source of bottlenecks which can bring a summit push to a compete stop. The third Step is another straightforward rock climb which becomes challenging at this altitude (nothing is easy anymore). Climber now spends the next hour climbing the steep snowfields of the Summit Pyramid. The Summit Ridge is short (500′) but narrow with 10,000′ drop-offs on both sides leading directly to the Everest Summit. At this point climbers have spent 8 to 10 hours to summit.  It will take another 4 to 6 to return to Camp III.

The success ratio (summits to all climbers) is approximately 20%, while on the South Face it is around 50%. There are more fatal accidents as well.

In the Spring 2009 season, I was one of the only three women who reached the top of Mount Everest.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

Anna Barańska on Facebook

Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

International Everest 8848m. North Face Expedition Spring 2009

* Previous story :

Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge.

Previous story:

Mt Everest – North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

Today continuation of this story:

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 2.

Author : Anna Barańska

Frank and I started the next trek early in the morning before the official breakfast, scheduled for 8 am and we walked on the Rongbuk glacier above Base Camp towards Middle Camp (5900 m). It is an approximately 14 km route through the rocky hills. The route starts from the plateau and then it turns sharply to the left after 45 minutes. We reached Middle Base Camp in a good time of 3 hours 45 minutes, had our packed lunch and tried to check a little bit of the route above. It turned out we were not well acclimatized at that time – Frank had a stomach ache, I was vomiting from being tired, for the first time in my life. In addition, I had a diarrhea since we left Katmandu, which I tried to treat on the way to Base Camp with Canadian and Czech medicines (my medicines were being transported in the main luggage directly to BC by omission; what’s more I did not have many of them, as I rarely have stomach problems). Czech medicines didn’t help a lot but didn’t hurt either, Canadian ones were more effective. After I had used those supplies, I asked our expedition manager for some additional medicines, but instead of stomach pills he gave me a very strong antibiotic. As a result, I felt very bad and I was not able to move to Middle Camp with the others. I stayed alone in the tent in Base Camp, writing desperate text messages home. I needed support from my family so much.

Mobile network coverage on the altitude of Base Camp was a surprise. It turned out later that the network coverage was probably available even at 6400 m, so the Columbians were able to write emails and receive the weather forecasts. Unfortunately, my mobile did not work there. I went to Middle Camp on the next day, April 24th, accompanied by Veslaw who was as slow as me that time. We were both in a bad shape that day. When we reached Middle Camp, a Sherpa called Pasang welcomed us with a multi-dish dinner. Apparently, Pasang himself for the last several years lived off only flour with hot tea, as he could not digest anything else.

Middle Camp is surrounded by spectacular penitents, which provoked Canadians to discuss the use of their technical axes. The penitents stretch towards the direction of Makalu, where the last turn to Advanced Base Camp (6,400 m) is located. The views were marvelous despite the fact that you can’t see Everest after the first turn to the left on the glacier. Passing the route for the first time may be irritating – the question is when Everest will be visible again?

When we finally got to ABC (6,400m), Frank and I planned further acclimatization together. Frank wanted to go up as often as possible because he felt strong and did not want to use supplemental oxygen. Looking at him at that time I was certain that he would be the first one in our group to make it to the summit, in particular when I compared his preparation to that of other people who were regularly disappearing from ABC to the lower camps to rest. While some people were suffering from edema, long lasting diarrheas and coughs so strong that they resulted in broken ribs, the only health problem Frank had was a hiccup : ). The first warning sign that he was not so superbly immune came to me when we planned to climb to Camp II (7,700m). I’ll come back to it later on.

I was passing 22 kilometers of the glacier route several more times up and down in various weather conditions, every time hoping that I had passed certain part of the route already and I was closer to the destination than I thought. Unfortunately, it always turned out that I passed by a damaged measurement triangle, a characteristic rock or through a glacier stream much later then I had reminded myself about their existence. The size and length of the glacier were the most visible when I had a chance to observe it from the above of 7,300m. Contrary to my experience, yaks had no problems with the distance and were passing it with the load within one day.
I would call the pace of hiking with Veslaw from Middle Camp to ABC on the next day, April 25th, contemplative. Frank ensured that I had my tent set up and in addition he showed a very nice gesture by descending below ABC to help the new-comers. He spotted Veslaw and me, took heavier Veslaw rucksack, Veslaw took mine, so I was lucky to walk only with the trekking poles.

After one day rest in ABC I left for Camp I situated on 7,000m. The route was passing through the base full of Chinese and Japanese tents, then through the horizontal rocks to the so-called Crampon Point where every climber attaches their crampons and sometimes leaves excess load. Then, wearing crampons, I followed the route leading through an icy plateau with several crevasses to icy, covered in snow and increasingly steep (up to 60 degrees) slopes. The route to Camp I ends with a little ice ladder on the wide crevasse, surrounded by threatening seracs. Some actually fell down in the beginning of May, luckily causing no casualties.

My first attempt to reach Camp I ended more or less after three fourths of the way to the destination – it was late and I listened to the Sherpas’ advice to go back. I reached the camp at the second attempt, but I didn’t sufficiently cover my face from the sun, so I got heavy sunburn by the evening. In addition, my face was swollen to almost twice the normal size as it was my natural response for the high altitude. I looked very bad, so Pemba asked me to go down as soon as possible. In the middle of the way, a Columbian doctor applied me an unidentified injection to reduce the swell. In order to compromise between my laziness and recommendations regarding my health, I decided that a descent to Middle BC would be sufficient. Looking at the photos from these days I think it was, but after two days Pemba looked into my tent asking me to go down with him to BC. We did it in a very good time of 2.5 hours. Since May 5th I spent time in BC with Marc-Andre, one of the three Mad Frogs, the one who came there to accompany the other two rather than for a real climbing. He admitted himself that he had neither sufficient experience, nor ambitions to climb Mount Everest. In addition, he suffered from different diseases, including a broken rib following a heavy cough, which resulted in him deciding to present to his employer these two months not as a holiday but as a sick leave. He had a medical book on altitude diseases and to some extent they created together a kind of perpetuum mobile.

The beginning of May, when my face was shrinking to its normal size, was actually a lesson of patience – the days differed from each other mainly by the menu and the wind strength. When we started feeling – or looking – better, we went up. It turned out that as for climbing we did not lose a lot, in terms of Amaretto brought by Alex – a half of the bottle ;). It is worth noticing that Sherpa cooks cared about us and tried to serve varying and tasty meals. We had fried and roasted chicken, chicken in curry sauce, yak meat, canned ham, steamed vegetables, fresh vegetables, potatoes in 100 varieties, pasta and rice. Pizza which was served on several occasions was always welcomed very enthusiastically. There was always something sweet for a desert, like canned fruit or vanilla pudding. Combinations for breakfast were much more limited, so by the end of the expedition everyone hated omelets and rice pudding.

Climbing during the next days was driven by our physical condition and changing weather. Due to bad weather Frank returned to BC as well. We both returned to ABC in the spreading fog and falling snow; I was doing my best not to lose him from my sight as otherwise losing the route on the glacier would be very likely.
Afterwards, again only Frank and I were thinking about moving up. We planned to spend two nights and a day in-between in Camp II (7,650 m). I reached Camp I much later than him but in the next morning I met Frank coming down, saying he had a bad night and needed some rest and decided to go back to BC again. Maybe then I first saw a warning sign in my head? So far he appeared to be in an excellent condition, the only problem he could find in the Canadian medical book was a hiccup. When I came back to ABC, he already had gone to the lower camp for a couple of days. Anyway, I ignored this fact because it seemed to be so common at that altitude.
The other members didn’t even try to go above ABC. In the tent in Camp II Pemba decided that spending the whole next day there would mean only losing energy, rather than improving acclimatization. He couldn’t understand why I cared so much about climbing as high as possible, while the others preferred to stay in ABC with good food and no effort. At the end, it turned out that at that stage only Pemba and I spent the night between May 13th and 14th in Camp II and reached that altitude.

Based on the weather forecast for the Columbians the summit day was planned for May 21st. While we were waiting for the summit push, it started to be extremely cold in ABC in the evenings. Frank initiated a trend of coming to the dining tent for the dinners in his down suit. On the other hand, he was the only one wearing shorts on the hot days at 6,400m.
On the last day before the start, Frank prepared a card for the summit photo. He told me about this plan on our first hike, in Nylam. He wanted a photo on the top with him holding a card: ‘Christina, will you marry me?’ I did not see the card after it was finished. He only showed it to me at the stage when the letters in every second line were colored with my black pen. He then went to the Sherpas for additional colors.
The summit push was planned for the days indicated as the best in terms of the weather. We climbed together on the May 18th to Camp I with the Czech and Canadian groups in a very good mood, full of expectations. Frank and Alex beat some speed records, getting there in about three hours. We spent the afternoon in a cheerful atmosphere, contemplating the sunset, cooking, visiting each others’ tents. These hours were actually the last happy ones. In the evening Veslaw got a heart attack and died despite a really professional resuscitation carried by Alex and Manuel. On the next morning, I helped in the talks between the local clerks and his family regarding leaving his body in the place of his death, in a deep crevasse close to Camp I. After this all or maybe despite this all we started our climb to Camp II. I wondered what else we could do? Would it have helped? On the way up, I carried a torch, down gloves and boots lent by Veslaw only a day before.

At the very beginning of the way to Camp II my thermos fell out of my backpack and I just managed to see it sliding down the slope at a speed of a rocket. My low pace on the way induced me to use supplemental oxygen in the higher parts of the mountain. During the next day, May 20th, we started our way to Camp III (8,300 m) through steep rocks and several snow fields.

I finally reached Camp II much later than the others in a very heavy snow and wind, so I met Frank and Alex only on the next day, when they passed me climbing on the ropes. Alex was faster using oxygen, while Frank remained about ten meters ahead of me. Alex told me later that Frank, due to exhaustion, was already ‘completely useless’ in setting up the tent there. It was windy and so high, that actually every breath, not mentioning every move, was exhausting even with supplemental oxygen. The location of this camp is characteristic; it is situated just between gray and orange rocks visible from the bottom. Pemba and I cooked some additional food, knowing that the next day would be long and exhausting.

The scale of tiredness at that altitude is illustrated by piles of garbage left by climbers – parts of tents, used oxygen bottles, cooking sets were almost everywhere; the wind was playing with them. We started our summit push around 10 pm, after a short nap, on the same day we reached Camp III. I had my mask, crampons and all necessary equipment, but I still did not believe that I was able to reach the summit. Anyway I tried, and my pace was enough to overtake the two other teams – Manuel and Jairo with their Sherpas. Frank and Alex could see our lights above them.

The route was steep up to the Mushroom Rock, then it was rather horizontal but exposed from the right side (the Kanshung side?). Step I and Step II were easier during the night as it was too dark to see how much they were exposed. They wouldn’t have been that challenging on lower altitudes, but the combination of technical difficulty with the altitude of above 8,600 m caused problems with catching a breath. We climbed Step III already in light of the rising sun.

What was left then to climb was the steep snow field, with the summit already visible. At this point it appeared that it was so close to the top, but the route followed through a surprising traverse, steep rocks and three snow hills to the summit dome. Reaching the last hill was surprising as well – the very top consisted of rocks covered with a steep glacier dome.

When I was walking there I was moved by the fact that my dreams came true so easily – before the expedition had started I felt that my Everest was 20,000 meters high. I reached the top of Mount Everest at 7.30 am local time. There were some more climbers from the South Face. Manuel appeared as well, overtaking me at the last rocks again, calling his family from a satellite phone[3]. I asked the closest person, a Japanese, to take a photo of me, but it turned out that using my camera was too difficult for him[4] – as a result I have only the photos of my daughter’s socks which I took myself with the view from each side including the North Face (our) climbing route. I hope I can show them to her at some time in the future. And I will always have an answer, in case she would like to climb Mount Everest: “Honey, you don’t have to, your socks were already there”. I took the roll of flags left close to the Buddha statue and started the descent. The wind was terrible but the views were marvelous.

At the bottom of the steep snow field I met Frank. He said he was cold and asked me for hand heaters. I said that he had maximum one and a half hour to the top and gave him my gloves (I had several pairs), gave him a hug and wished good luck. I did not notice how deteriorated his condition must have been at that time due to the length of the route and the lack of oxygen. I was so confident that he would succeed without any problems. He reached the summit, but the people seeing him there described him as extremely deteriorated and not fully conscious. Probably being not fully conscious, he did not agree to using supplemental oxygen proposed by a French climber or to going down together with a French team. The exact reason for those decisions will remain unexplained. On the next day Alex came to my tent saying that Frank did not return to their tent. I just started to cry. It was so cruel. It was not fair. Alex was waiting for him the whole next day with hot tea and a meal and he was not able to do anything more than this. Frank fell asleep and remained at the bottom of the Step III at the altitude of around 8,700 m.
My descent was full of dramatic moments. My eyelids were burned by the sun, I almost couldn’t see, so I moved to Camp II mainly thanks to the fixed ropes. When they ended I couldn’t locate the further route on the plateau in the rising snow storm. I was alone there and only thanks to another climber, probably the same one who talked with Frank on the previous day, I managed to reach Camp II.

In Camp II I took some rest in a French tent and I initially planned to stay there till the next day. Manuel found me there and asked me to go down with him because of the snow storm, heavy wind and our uncertain physical condition. I agreed and luckily the lower we descended the more stable the weather was. I was tired and I hoped that we would stay in Camp I for a night. It turned out that Manuel had different plans – he wanted to go down straight to ABC to avoid any negative consequences of staying another night at the altitude above 7,000 m. Eventually, we stayed in Camp I only for a tea given to us by a very nice Slovenian climber and went further down arguing whether to use or not my half ring bend. He preferred using figure of eight. During the night Veslaw helped us in a certain sense – his torch was the only one we had. Finally we made 1,900 m descent in one day after the exhausting summit day (climbing up and down for approximately 18 hours in total). At the base of the glacier leading to Camp I the Sherpas and two Mad Frogs were waiting for us with additional torches and hot tea. I was walking through an almost empty ABC in the darkness as Chinese and Japanese climbers occupying it had already left. I was accompanied by a Sherpa from our agency and the satisfaction that it was all over. In our camp we had an opportunity to use the comfortable Columbian dining tent, however, instead of a congratulatory cake like after Cho Oyu summit, we had only a cold dinner. I had blisters on my feet and I was not sure about my feelings at all.

The next days were spent on wrapping up the expedition. They did not taste like success, they were sad, and the most important moments were the telephone calls to Christina, Frank’s fiancée. We were preparing ourselves to go back to the reality of a horizontal world outside the mountains. In addition, there was a heavy snow-fall covering ABC with additional 1.5 m of snow. On May 27th I moved down, thinking that I was seeing these sights probably for the last time in my life. I reached BC just in time to take the bus and apply for the summit certificate. We celebrated in a bus drinking beer, but for me it was a bitter victory – actually I still can’t cope with Frank’s and Veslaw’s deaths. We stayed at Tingri for a meal, in Zangmu for a couple of hours of sleep. In Katmandu, Mad Frogs, Manuel and me stayed in the hotel recommended by Frank, probably to be closer to him just for a couple of hours more.

Mount Everest – summary and the facts:
Our expedition lasted nearly two months (April 6th – June 1th 2009). Difficulties with obtaining the Chinese visa resulted in crossing Nepali – Chinese border on April 15th. We were at BC on (5,200m) on April 19th. Climbing above ABC (6,400m) started at the beginning of May, including one push to Camp I and the second push to Camp II. The summit push was started on May 18th – climbing to Camp I (7,000m), on May 19th to Camp II (7,650m), Camp III (8,300m), the final part started before 10 pm with the sky full of stars and light wind.

I was a member of an international team organized by Monterosa agency (which proved itself during my earlier Cho Oyu expedition). I had an experienced Sherpa on my team. The technical climbing difficulties of which I had been so much afraid before the expedition appeared to be challenging but inspiring. I reached the top of the world at 7.30 am, May 21st. At the same day, there were three other climbers from my team who reached the top: Manuel Pizarro (Canada), Frank Ziebarth (Germany) and Jair Gonzalez (Ecuador).

This season was generally assessed to be a very unsuccessful and dangerous one. There were people from other agencies who passed away at that side of the mountain. Only a couple of days were qualified as possible for a summit attempt – the beginning of May when Chinese climbers were fixing ropes and May 21st – being of our summit push. The snow on the following days was too heavy to allow other climbers to attempt summit push; for us it made the descent much more difficult than expected.

[3] It was the second time for Manuel to successfully climb Mount Everest
[4] Probably the only Japanese guy, who didn’t know how to operate an easy camera – unbelievable

* The further fate of the expedition read in part 3.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

Anna Barańska on Facebook

Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

* Previous story :

Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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Anna Barańska: My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

On May 21st 2009 at 7.30 am Anna Baranska reached the summit of Mount Everest (8848m). She was the 5th Polish female on the top of the highest mountain in the world (after Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwinska, Martyna Wojciechowska and Agnieszka Kiela-Palys), but the first one to ascend the Northeast ridge. Anna is twenty fourth Pole on the top of Mount Everest. It is worth noting that Mount Everest is the second 8,000er climbed by Anna – in autumn 2005 she reached the top of Cho Oyu (8201m). After that success the Mountain Magazine (Magazyn Gorski) published parts of a private diary written by Anna which presented interesting insights into expedition life in twenty first century. After nearly four years and a successful expedition to Mount Everest Anna created a similar material. After all, Everest is a true icon of commercial mountaineering.

My Everest – Mt Everest North Face International Expedition 2009, part 1.

Author : Anna Barańska

In the Spring 2009 season, I was one of the only three women who reached the top of Mount Everest.

From a comfortable armchair at my mother’s place in Warsaw, Everest seems to be a bit unrealistic, far-away memory. Actually only few weeks have passed since the end of the expedition. However, its start is less well defined – was it the moment when I started thinking what to do next for my mountaineering curriculum vitae after Cho Oyu, or the start of my training – jogging and biking in evenings and weekends in a nearby park and forest, i.e. autumn 2008. The training wasn’t easy as I had to combine it with my full time work and upbringing of my little daughter[1] . I often started jogging around 9 p.m., irrespective of bad weather and low temperatures. I was motivated only by the fact that it would not be easier on the route to Mount Everest.

The choice of the Everest’s North Face wasn’t obvious. I kept calling every top Polish mountaineer who had ever tried to climb there but their opinions were clearly negative: “You will not make it”. I took the final decision after a short email exchange with Frank[2] . Frank, after I had met him on Cho Oyu, managed to climb Shisha Pangma and Lhotse, with the latter being a plan B after the Chinese government’s decision to close Tibet in 2008. He wrote: „Let me tell you – YOU would not enjoy climbing Everest from the South. Crowds are crazy. The icefall is not a big problem. Camp IV on the South is at around 8,000m altitude and 8-10 hours from the summit. The route and conditions on the North Face are tougher; success rate is lower because of a tough and long summit day. Camp III is high; the ridge is difficult and exposed”. I didn’t ask anymore. Final preparation, including packing in order to meet the maximum of 20kg allowed by the Polish airlines, money exchange and air ticket purchase took me around one week. To complicate things further, USD to Polish zloty exchange was extremely unfavorable for me.

At Doha airport I unexpectedly spotted Krzysztof Wielicki on travelling to Katmandu with a group of people heading for trekking in the Himalaya. Since they appeared very fit and well prepared, I thought that they were joking and they were on a more serious mountaineering expedition. Thus, I also presented my plans as a trek around Everest. Only Krzysztof was a little suspicious, saying that Tibetan Plateau is rather boring for a trek… Anyway, he didn’t question further. In fact, my version about the trek was an official one for everybody else, so that I could avoid uncomfortable explanations in case of a failure.

I reached Katmandu late at night – and from the very beginning I was surrounded by the exactly same ambience I remembered – crowds of noisy natives asking for money. On the other hand, the guys from Moterosa mountaineering agency offered a pleasant surprise – they were waiting despite more than four-hour delay of my flight. It was after 10 pm when my rucksacks were finally placed in my hotel room but I could not resist a unique ambience of a warm, windless night. Swerving between noisy cars and rickshaws, I found the nearest little shop. I got a cold beer and sat alone in the garden of a same cosy hotel in which I had spent a couple of nights nearly four years ago just before my expedition to Cho Oyu.

During the next morning I felt like these four years haven’t passed – I met with Ganesh, boss of Moterosa, and the Czechs from Shisha Pangma expedition in 2005. Soon after, other expedition members started to appear in the hotel lobby. Our team consisted of five Czechs, three Canadians in a team called the Mad Frogs, Manuel and Andre – Canadians as well, Frank, Luigi from Italy, Jairo from Ecuador, two Spanish guys – a father and a son and the six Columbians who joined later as an almost independent team. I spent the day shopping for food with my Sherpa, Pemba – we took a taxi to a supermarket, where, as before the previous expedition, I overestimated the number of days above Base Camp and as a consequence the amount of necessary food. Pemba wasn’t helpful in this endavour – it turned out that his choices were quite sophisticated. As a result we had a shopping cart full of Chinese soups, Indian instant food, canned tuna and ham, very popular Tang drink, canned mango and ginger tea. With hindsight, it was twice as much as we needed, especially since I also had instant baby porridge and soy cutlets, which I brought from Poland as a hand luggage, pretending that they – together with Millet Everest boots – have almost no weight. Pemba also turned out to be a fan of Polish instant jelly (kisiel), which he knew from the prior year’s South Face expedition with my Polish friend, Slawek Krok.

We spent the second day purchasing and renting equipment. Pemba was the one to select masks, regulators, oxygen bottles and snow pickets (it gets very windy in Camp II), cooking sets and gas jets. In the meantime I agreed with Ganesh the scope of agency services, including rental of three tents. After two barrels full of mountaineering equipment and food were finally locked in my hotel room, the only thing remaining was the Chinese visa. Unfortunately, it turned out this would be a problem stopping us for a few next days in Nepal. The expedition members became frustrated as the passing days brought no change of the situation. On April 9th Frank finally arrived to the hotel, returning from his previous trek by a helicopter, which was an unnecessary expense for him given our delay.

The beginning of any expedition is an exciting moment and everyone is full of energy. Despite initial setbacks, it was the case this time as well. I spent several evenings on social activities, going out with members of Wielicki’s group. Veslaw from the Czech group attempted to convince me to try climbing without supplemental oxygen. By chance, I met Darek, the only Pole on the North Side of the mountain. Despite those nice episodes, I remained rather pessimistic. Uncertainty about obtaining the Chinese visa (analogical situation took place a year before, when the Chinese government decided finally that Tibet would not be opened for tourists and therefore they could have a try from the South side or not try at all), sense of guilt because I left my family and the sadness of the Easter spent alone were all contributing. In addition, I had heard the news about an accidental death of Piotr Morawski, one of talented Polish young climbers, only a few days ago.

I treated oxygen bottles as a backup plan. I discussed the topic for a long time with Frank and Veslaw. In particular, Frank was a purist and recognized climbing only without supplemental oxygen and Sherpas. However, I relied the most on Sherpas’ opinions. They suggested that I was able to reach the summit but only with oxygen and I followed their recommendation. Additional argument was given by Manuel, who said that my daughter would not remember how I got to the summit but whether I came back to her. I finally decided to use supplemental oxygen after my climb to Camp II during the summit push took me two hours more than on the first attempt. Even though I shared Frank’s opinion by heart and we both climbed Cho Oyu without oxygen and without Sherpas’ support, I just wasn’t able to follow it on Everest.

The problems with the Chinese visa delayed our departure from Nepal and on April 11th we left its capital city only to calm down the expedition members and give an impression of progress. However, in reality there was no development with the administrative issues. We spent the next few days in a beautiful hotel located two hours away from Kathmandu on a single hill (which meant we couldn’t acclimatize) with delicious food, which taste was spoiled only by the uncertainty about our future. The mood among expedition members became so intense that Rishi, our young expedition manager, was afraid to go back to the hotel without good news and he was spending hours with a cell phone on a sandy road in a nearby village. At certain point I was very close to a desperate decision to give up and go back home. Finally, after Mad Frogs’ numerous interventions in Kathmandu, we started moving to the border. We met the Canadians in Kodari pass, where we spent the last night in Nepal and made a short acclimatization hike in heavy rain. Frank spent his 29th birthday there, saying that he had hoped to be already on the Rongbuk glacier visiting the famous monastery there.

At the border we also had to wait – first for its opening, then for a completion of customs procedures for local traders with various goods. Our names were difficult for clerks, so we were reshuffled several times in order to ease the procedure. Finally we arrived to China on April 15th. When we were crossing the border, a moment of reflection came – we were asked to write down contact details in case of our death. I had problems with the choice because in that case I’d better inform nobody. I eventually chose my Dad.

In Chinese border town Zangmu, ugly and disgusting as usual, we had a meal, few minutes of free time and we left for Nylam. On the next day we were finally able to start acclimatization. Frank and I took packed lunches, which including undercooked boiled eggs, and reached the altitude of Mount Blanc in a good time, talking about our families and plans for the future. Frank was about to finish or at least to suspend his adventures in the Himalayas in order to marry Christina, his fiancée for 6 years and to start a family. Later on he asked me – as an experienced 🙂 mother – many questions about children and it appeared obvious that it was an important topic to him. During the next consecutive days our treks in vicinity of Tingri (up to this village the route was the same as to Cho Oyu) were the most ambitious when compared to those of the rest of our group – I believe we were the most focused on the good preparation. We had very good hiking pace then. In Tingri’s hotel, which was a barrack-like building with a large court in the middle used as a vehicle parking, nothing had changed since my Cho Oyu expedition – Chinese menu (mainly a mix of various stewed vegetables, including cucumbers, meat, rice and obligatory scrambled eggs), pile of empty beer bottles at the entrance, hot water available only from thermoses, Chinese soldiers sitting in the back office and pink wallpaper with flowers. And the sky full of stars and shining full moon. During the first night there were crowds of barking dogs – the silence during the next one made us suspicious about our menu.

We spent the next day shaking in a bus on a bumpy and twisted road on the Tibetan Plateau to the Rongbuk glacier and the lower base camp (5,200m). I regretted not having an iPod with me. Base Camp was located on a rocky plateau between two lines of higher hills. One of these hills reminded me Matterhorn in structure (loose stones close to the top).
The wonderful silence and calmness, when we sat in a place which we decided to be the highest point of our daily trek, were the one of those beautiful moments which I will always keep in memory. Frank told me a story about his descent from Lhotse, when he had been so exhausted that he had confused a bottle for drinking water with that for urinating and when he had asked another mountaineer for some more water he had handed the latter for the refill.

Base Camp itself has its uniqueness – since it is the highest place you can reach by bus from that side of the mountain, tourists were coming there every day craving sights of Everest and wanting to see the real mountaineers with their own eyes. As a result, when I was going to a building with two holes in the floor (a local toilet) at 6 am, I wasn’t sure whether I was not photographed by one of them standing on a nearby hill. There were some others, opening tents without permission and looking for climbers inside. Base Camp was also the last place for two activities: taking shower and almost unlimited beer drinking. The latter was exercised by the Czechs, who were sitting for the whole days in the dining tent, discussing various sports and the influence of beer on acclimatization process. They brought a considerable amount of chocolate bars from Orion, their local sponsor, initially planning to share them with the expedition members; however at the end most of the sweet stuff was eaten by them.

[1] Kate was two years old then.

[2] Frank Ziebarth

* The further fate of the expedition read in part 2.

Anna Barańska – (born 8th September 1976) – Polish mountaineer, climber of two eight-thousanders. The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest, climbed on 21st May 2009.

She started her mountaineering adventure in 2000 by climbing Rysy from the Slovak side. The next climbings were as follows: Gerlach 2650 m – June 2000; Triglav 2864 m – September 2001; Mont Blanc 4807 m – August 200 ; Elbrus 5642 m – unsuccessful summit trial in August 2003; Lenin’s Peak 7210 m by the normal route – June 2004.

In 2005 Anna reached the top of Cho Oyu 8201 m in Tibet by the normal route with Piotr Barabas on September 28th.

* See also:

Anna Barańska on Facebook

Anna Barańska: The first Polish woman on the North Face of Mount Everest.

* Related Links:

Pierwsza Polka, która zdobyła Everest od północy : Anna Barańska.

Polish famous climbers – The golden decade of Polish Himalayan mountaineering.

* Previous story :

Interview with Bernadette McDonald.

Piotr Pustelnik: Przesuwanie granicy akceptowalnego ryzyka.

Kinga Baranowska and Piotr Pustelnik new expedition – ANNAPURNA DREAM Expedition 2010.

Himalaya 2010 climbing season: Tibet Closed as Spring Season Begins!

The Gear Junkie Profiles Seven Summiteer.

Interview with Mike Farris: Alone on Everest.

March and April Climbing Events by American Alpine Institute.

Interview with Anne-Mari Hyryläinen: The First Finnish Woman on Everest?

Everest 2010: South Side Update from IMG’s Eric Simonson.

Everest 2010: North Side Update from an Expert – Jamie McGuinness.

The Great Himalaya Trail Set To Open Next Year!

Everest — Gear For The Expedition.

* Polish Himalayas – Become a Fan

** zapraszam na relacje z wypraw polskich himalaistów.

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