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Jerzy Kukuczka

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

Jerzy Kukuczka (24 March 1948 in Katowice – 24 October 1989 Lhotse) 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. He is the first man who made the first winter ascents of three eight-thousanders: Dhaulagiri with Andrzej Czok in 1985, Kangchenjunga with Krzysztof Wielicki in 1986 and Annapurna I with Artur Hajzer in 1987. He is the only climber to have ascended four of the eight-thousanders during winter. Along with Tadeusz Piotrowski, Kukuczka established a new route on K2 (the so-called "Polish Line"), which no one has ever repeated.


  • Eight-thousanders 1
  • See also 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5


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] During his career, Kukuczka established ten new routes 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).

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.[3]
1985 Nepal Cho Oyu South-East Pillar New Route, First Winter Ascent, Second Summit Team.
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.
1986 Nepal Manaslu North-East Face New Route, Alpine Style.
1987 Nepal Annapurna I North Face Normal Route, First Winter Ascent.
1987 China Shisha Pangma 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.

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), the cord either was cut or snapped from a fall, plunging Kukuczka to his death.

Jerzy Kukuczka's memorial with Lhotse in the background

See also


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

External links

  • Everest History: Jerzy "Jurek" Kukuczka
  • The Crown of the Himalayas
  • The legend: 5 stars out of 5
  • Jerzy Kukuczka, il trailer del nuovo film (Italian)


  1. ^ Doubrawa-Cochlin, Ingeborga. "A Tribute to Jerzy Kukuczka (1948- 1989)". The Alpine Journal: 32–34.  
  2. ^ Korean Everest Sea to Summit marred by tragedy
  3. ^ Xexplorers web:The meaning of winter in 8000+ climbing
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