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Jerzy Kukuczka

This page was created thanks to cooperation with The Great Man Foundation.

The text below as well as all photos thank the courtesy of The Foundation.

 "Materiały pochodzą z Archiwum Jerzego Kukuczki / Fundacja Wielki Człowiek"

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Jerzy Kukuczka 1948-1989


Jerzy Kukuczka was born in 1948 in Katowice. He died tragically in 1989 while trying to conquer the legendary southern wall of Lhotse, unreachable for any climber at the time. He is considered as one of the greatest climbers in history.


The most recognizable of his achievements is the capture of the Crown of the Himalayas and Karakoram. He did this as the second man in the world. However, this was not the essence of his high altitude activities. First of all, the most valuable feature of Kukuczka’s career was a pioneering and innovative approach to himalaism. Of the fourteen eight-thousander peaks constituting the Crown of the Himalayas, ten he has climbed by new routes, four peaks he achieved as first in winter, thirteen without oxygen, seven in alpine style, and one alone. He reached all the peaks in half the time of his predecessor – Reinhold Messner.

Although Kukuczka’s tragic death took place many years ago, his character remains alive. His person constantly appears in the media, new books, articles, films and diploma theses are created. In the environment of climbers, he is often mentioned during mountain festivals, lectures and meetings. Several streets of Polish cities and the Katowice housing estate were named after him. He also became the patron of many schools and the University of Physical Education in Katowice. There is no doubt that Jerzy Kukuczka is a character who has permanently entered the history of Polish sport and, despite the passage of time, remains alive and valued.

On the way to the Himalayan peaks Kukuczka was accompanied by excellent partners such as Wojtek Kurtyka, Artur Hajzer, Andrzej Czok, Krzysztof Wielicki, Wanda Rutkiewicz, Tadeusz Piotrowski, Andrzej Zyga Heinrich, Tadeusz Piotrowski and Carlos Carsolio.

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