Press Release – March 2013
Information concerning a sport program, "Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering 2010-2015", March 2013
"Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering 2010-2015" is a sport program of Polish Mountaineering Association, who objective is to reach summits of eight-thousanders in winter for the first time in history. When the program has begun, there have been five unconquered eight-thousanders and now there are only two such peaks. In February 2011 an international team conquered Gasherbrum II 8,035 m. On 9th March 2012 Polish team consisting in Adam Bielecki and Janusz Gołąb conquered Gasherbrum I 8,068 m. On 5th March 2013 Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Artur Małek and Tomasz Kowalski reached the summit of Broad Peak 8,047 m. Nanga Parbat 8,125 m and K2 8,611 still wait to be conquered.
Andrzej Zawada, a legendary leader of Polish expeditions into high mountains, created winter Himalayan mountaineering. The series of Polish successes in the Himalayas started when Krzysztof Wielicki and Leszek Cichy conquered Mount Everest 8,848 m on 17th February 1980. Twelve eight-thousanders have already been conquered in winter - and ten ascents have been made by Poles (one ascent has been made in an international team and seven have been made in the 1980s). Such way of climbing is a Polish speciality. The Poles have been world leaders in this discipline and conquering Gasherbrum I in 2012 and Broad Peak in 2013 has only strengthened our position. As international media put it: "The Poles have returned to the winter throne!".
The speed of conquering eight-thousanders has slowed down as the only mountains left are situated in Pakistan in the West Himalayas (Nanga Parbat) and Karakoram (Gasherbrum I and II, Broad Peak, K2), where the conditions are more severe than in Nepal and Tibet (lower temperatures and stronger winds). The first eight-thousander in this region (Pakistan) has been conquered after twenty-four years of attempts in 2011 (Gasherbrum II conquered by an international team).
"Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering 2010-2015" program is addressed to representatives of young generation and one of its objectives is to fill in the generation gap in this discipline in particular and in Himalayan mountaineering in general. Artur Hajzer has created the program and Krzysztof Wielicki is its honorary leader. The program started in 2010 thanks to an initiative of Ireneusz Raś, an MP and President of Sport Commission, and support of Ministry of Sport and Tourism. In autumn 2011 Bronisław Komorowski, the President of the Republic of Poland, has become a patron of the program. PKN Orlen S.A. is the chief sponsor of the program and expeditions.
Conquering eight-thousanders in winter is the greatest challenge of modern Himalayan mountaineering. Constantly blowing wind and hurricanes reaching the speed of 120 km/h as well as wind chill reaching minus seventy degrees Celsius are the main obstacles during climbing. Due to strong winds more ice appears and thus, average technical difficulties increase.
The following expeditions (both training and main winter expeditions) have been organized within the framework of"Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering 2010-2015" program:
- Nanga Parbat 8,125 m in summer 2010. Artur Hajzer and Robert Szymczak appeared on the summit as the first ones and then, Marcin Kaczkan made a lone attempt. Aleksandra Dzik and Jarosław Gawrysiak returned not that far from the peak. The expedition included twelve people.
- International compedition The Elbrus Race 2010. Twelve people participated in the competition, whose aim was to reach the peak of Elbrus 5,642 m in the shortest possible time. Andrzej Bargiel and Aleksandra Dzik won the Extrem category - route with 3,500 m of elevation. Moreover, Andrzej Bargiel set a new route record, i.e. 3 hours and 33 minutes. Twelve people participated in the competition.
- Winter expedition to Broad Peak 8,047 m in winter 2010/2011. Nine people participated in the expedition. The altitude of 7,800 m was reached.
- Autumn expedition to Makalu 8,463 m. Artur Hajzer, Adam Bielecki and Tomasz Wolfart reached the peak. Eight people participated in the expedition. While descending, Maciej Stańczak and Tomasz Wolfart has their fingers frost-bitten and suffered from permanent bodily injury.
- Winter expedition to Gasherbrum I 8,068 m in 2011/2012. Four people participated in the expedition. Gasherbrum I was ascended in winter for the first time in history. Adam Bielecki and Janusz Gołąb reached the peak on 9th March 2012. Artur Hajzer was the leader of the expedition, whereas Agnieszka Bielecka was the base camp leader.
- Spring expedition to Manaslu 8,156 m in 2012. Seven people participated in the expedition. The altitude of 7,800 m was reached.
- Summer expedition to K2 8,611 m in 2012. Adam Bielecki and Marcin Kaczkan participated in the expedition. Adam Bielecki conquered K2 in a very good style - in a bold attempt and without camp 4.
- Autumn expedition to Lhotse 8,516 m in 2012. Seven people participated in the expedition. The altitude of 8,250 m was reached.
- Winter expedition to Broad Peak 8,047 m in 2012/2013. Five people participated in the expedition. Broad Peak was ascended in winter for the first time in history. Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Artur Małek and Tomasz Kowalski reached the summit on 5th March 2013. The expedition was led by Krzysztof Wielicki. However, the success was overshadowed by a tragedy. Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski died while descending.
In spring 2013, a unification expedition to Dhaulagiri 8,167 m is going to take place. Jerzy Natkański is going to be the leader of the expedition consisting in eight people.
The leader of the "Polish Winter Himalayan Mountaineering 2010-2015" program