Wojciech „Voytek” Kurtyka, b. 1947, Poland
Shisha Pangma, Central Summit 8008m, Tibet Himalaya, south face (left of the Yugoslav route), new route, alpine style and non-stop ascent, with Erhard Loretan and Jean Troillet (Swiss) [article: Wojciech Kurtyka, New Routes, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma, AAJ 1991]
Cho Oyu 8201m, Tibet Himalaya, southwest face, new route, alpine style and non-stop ascent, with Erhard Loretan and Jean Troillet (Swiss) [article: Wojciech Kurtyka, New Routes, Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma, AAJ 1991]
K2 8611, west face, attempt, with Erhard Loretan, Jean Troillet [note: AAJ 1990]
When you are totally defeated you begin again to enjoy the small things around you. Just going to the mountains, not for victory or glory, but to enjoy nature or enjoy fine people. If you always succeed you enjoy the admiration of many people. Being defeated means being limited to the basis existential choices of life. If you can enjoy the quiet evening hours it is beautiful; a hero who always succeeds may not have time to enjoy such things.
Nameless Trango Tower 6251m, Karakoram, Pakistan, East Face ED+ A3, 1100m, new route, with Erhard Lorethan (Swiss) [Wojciech Kurtyka, The East Face of Trango’s Nameless Tower, AAJ 1989; Trango Extremes, Mountain 1989. May/June, No 127]
The essence of adventure is being put in an unknown position from which you don’t know what will happen. The unknown is the essence of adventure. And on Trango Tower the aspect of adventure was not so great as on Gasherbrum IV or on the Broad Peak traverse, because we fixed 500 meters of rope for the descent. The ropes were there, so it was not a position of being completely unknown. This possible escape eliminated an aspect of adventure. But another aspect of adventure is facing up to the unexpected, and this happened a lot on Trango Tower. We never knew what the next pitch would be or if the weather would hold.
K2 8611m, west face, attempt, with Jean Troillet [note: AAJ 1988]
Trango Nameless Tower 6251m, Karakoram, Pakistan, east face, attempt, with Kenji Yoshida, Naboru Yamada, Yasushiro Saito (Japan) [note: AAJ 1987]
Gasherbrum IV 7925m, West Face, new route, 10-day alpine style ascent, descent via unclimbed North Ridge, with Robert Schauer (Austria) [article: Wojciech Kurtyka, The Shining Wall of Gasherbrum IV, AAJ 1986; The Shining Wall, Alpinist, Spring 2004, No 2] Chosen as the greatest Himalayan climb of the 20th century by Climbing Magazine (Millennium Special Issue: No. 192).
The ascent stays in high esteem within the climbing community. Some declared it the climb of the century. But did anybody repeat GIV to confirm our illusion of it? Besides, does it make sense to declare a poem the poem of the century? Can you choose a woman of the century?
That was the hardest mountain experience for me. We spent four days without food, three days without drinking – a very long time. Everything that could go wrong on a big wall went wrong there.. We found ground with bad protection, we ran out of food and fuel, and in the last section near the summit we met terrible snow conditions, steep snow, sometimes up to your waist – we could travel just 200m a day. And the breakdown in weather happened just before the summit. We spent two nights just sitting, being unable to crawl out and stand up, without food and water.
Filar Abazego VI.3+ (French 7a+), Dolina Bolechowicka, freesolo ascent, important ascent in the history of freesoloing in Poland
Broad Peak, Nortwest Ridge - Traverse of the North 7600m, Central 8013m and Main 8047m Summits, new route, alpine style, with Jerzy “Jurek” Kukuczka [article: Voytek Kurtyka, Broad Peak North Ridge, Climbing 1986, February, No 94; note: AAJ 1984]
The route’s extension along the sky-high ridge demands from the team very serious commitment and arduous work. The reward is the stunning beauty, hardly letting the climbers notice the danger and to sense the loneliness or the terror of detachment. The surrounding scenery changes day after day from first dominance of K2 to the slow and impressive approach of the complex Gasherbrum group.
Gasherbrum II 8035m, Karakoram, Pakistan, southeast ridge, new route + Gasherbrum I 8156m, Karakorum, Pakistan, southeast face, new route, with Jerzy Kukuczka. Polish Alex MacIntyre Memorial Expedition: two new routes on 8,000ers on one season by two men alpine style [Voytek Kurtyka, The Gasherbrums Are Lonely, Mountain 1984, No. 97, May/June]
Broad Peak 8076m, normal route, alpine style, with Jerzy Kukuczka
Jurek was the greatest psychological rhinoceros I’ve ever met among alpinists, unequalled in his ability to suffer and his lack of responsiveness to danger. At the same time, he possessed that quality most characteristic to anyone born under Aries – a blind inner compulsion to press ahead. Characters like that, when they meet an obstacle, strike against it until they either crush it or break their own necks.
Makalu 8481m, Nepal Himalaya, west face, alpine style attempt, the highest point reached: 7900m, with Jerzy Kukuczka, Alex MacIntyre. After retreating Kukuczka reached the summit after solo climb via the variant to the normal route.
Makalu 8481m, Nepal Himalaya, west face, alpine style attempt (reached 6800m), with Alex MacIntyre, Kunda Dixit, Cornelius Higgins, Padam Gurung.