Jerzy Kukuczka

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Jerzy Kukuczka
Jerzy Kukuczka Mount Everest 1980.jpg
Jerzy Kukuczka on Mount Everest, 1980
Personal information
Born(1948-03-24)24 March 1948
Flag of Poland.svg Katowice, Poland
Died24 October 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 41)
Flag of Nepal.svg Lhotse, Nepal
Website Virtual Museum of Jerzy Kukuczka
Climbing career
Known for
First ascents
Gasherbrum II East, Biarhedi, Manaslu East, Yebokalgan Ri, Shishapangma West
Major ascentsFour winter ascents on the eight-thousanders
Kukuczka on graffiti in Katowice Katowice - Graffiti Jerzy Kukuczka.jpg
Kukuczka on graffiti in Katowice

Józef 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 Silesian Goral. [1] On 18 September 1987, he became the second man (after Reinhold Messner), to climb all fourteen eight-thousanders in the world; a feat which took him less than 8 years to accomplish. He is the only person in the world who has climbed two eight-thousanders in one winter. Altogether, he ascended four eight-thousanders in winter, including three as first ascents. Along with Tadeusz Piotrowski, Kukuczka established a new route on K2 in alpine style (the so-called "Polish Line"), which no one has repeated.



Kukuczka is widely considered among the climbing community to be one of the best high-altitude climbers in history. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4] 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]

1979Nepal Lhotse West FaceNormal Route
1980Nepal Mount Everest South PillarNew Route
1981Nepal Makalu Variation to Makalu La/North-West RidgeNew Route, Alpine style, Solo
1982Pakistan Broad Peak West SpurNormal Route, Alpine style
1983Pakistan Gasherbrum II South-East SpurNew Route, Alpine style
1983Pakistan Gasherbrum I South-West FaceNew Route, Alpine style
1984Pakistan Broad Peak Traverse of North, Middle, Rocky and Main SummitsNew Route, Alpine style
1985Nepal Dhaulagiri North-East SpurNormal Route, First Winter Ascent [5]
1985Nepal Cho Oyu South-East PillarSecond Winter Ascent
1985Pakistan Nanga Parbat South-East PillarNew Route
1986Nepal Kanchenjunga South-West FaceNormal Route, First Winter Ascent
1986Pakistan K2 South FaceNew Route, Alpine style
1986Nepal Manaslu North-East FaceNew Route, Alpine style
1987Nepal Annapurna I North FaceNormal Route, First Winter Ascent
1987China Shishapangma West RidgeNew Route, Alpine style, Ski Descent
1988Nepal Annapurna EastSouth FaceNew Route, Alpine style

He climbed all summits, except for Mount Everest, without the use of supplemental oxygen.


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 metres (26,900 ft) on a 6 mm secondhand rope he had picked up in a market in Kathmandu (according to Ryszard Pawłowski, Kukuczka's climbing partner, 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 metres 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.[ citation needed ] Such a step was dictated by the need to find the body to pay compensation to the deceased's family.


In the hamlet of Wilcze in Istebna in the highlander's summer house Jerzy Kukuczka, there is the Memorial Chamber of Jerzy Kukuczka, created in 1996 by Cecylia Kukuczka (Jerzy's wife).

The mountain "Yak Hotel" in Nepal in Dingboche (4400 m a.s.l.) is named after Jerzy Kukuczka.

There is also a street in the Gaj housing estate in Wrocław named after him.

See also


Related Research Articles

Lhotse Mountain in Nepal

Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain in the world at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft), after Mount Everest, K2, and Kangchenjunga. Part of the Everest massif, Lhotse is connected to the latter peak via the South Col. Lhotse means "South Peak" in Tibetan. In addition to the main summit at 8,516 metres (27,940 ft) above sea level, the mountain comprises the smaller peaks Lhotse Middle (East) at 8,414 m (27,605 ft), and Lhotse Shar at 8,383 m (27,503 ft). The summit is on the border between Tibet of China and the Khumbu region of Nepal.


Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres (27,838 ft). It is located in the Mahalangur Himalayas 19 km (12 mi) southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region, China. One of the eight-thousanders, Makalu is an isolated peak whose shape is a four-sided pyramid.

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  1. Kukuczka, Jerry (2015). "Challenge the Vertical".
  2. Doubrawa-Cochlin, Ingeborga. "A Tribute to Jerzy Kukuczka (1948–1989)" (PDF). The Alpine Journal: 32–34. ISSN   0065-6569 . Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  3. "Korean Everest Sea to Summit marred by tragedy". British Mountaineering Council. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  4. 1 2 Ruggera, M.D., Gary (1993). "Book Reviews: My Vertical World. Jerzy Kukuczka". American Alpine Journal. 50: 300–301. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  5. "Xexplorers web:The meaning of winter in 8000+ climbing". Archived from the original on 7 August 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2013.