Posts Tagged ‘Jerzy Kukuczka’

Jerzy Kukuczka – My Vertical World

Monday, December 19th, 2011

I just finished reading the book “My Vertical World” by Polish alpinist Jerzy Kukuczka. For those of you not in the know, Jerzy was the second person in the world to climb all 14 8000m peaks. They are the 14 tallest mountains in the world, a sought after prize by mountaineers to this day.

Being Polish, I heard a lot about him from other Polish people. They mentioned how he had done most of his ascents either by new routes, or in the winter, and did it in much less time than Reinhold Messner. He also had much less funding and sponsorship, worse equipment, etc., and he still did it. Now, when I heard all this, I thought, “right, typical Polish thing of talking up our own ‘brothers’ and all they did, showing national pride and all that”. And I didn’t give it much thought.

Then on one of my Himalayan expeditions I was talking to an American who told me “but Kukuczka, now that guy was intense. You should read his book, the stuff he had to go through.” Hmmm, I started looking for his book.

And I just finished reading it. I must say, the book is incredible. The things this guy did. Even if you know very little about mountain climbing, you’ll appreciate it. If you understand what was going on in Poland at the time (Communism), it will amaze you even more. I often tell people after I’ve done my Everest presentation, “and I had all this adventure on one normal Everest expedition, where nothing really went wrong. Imagine what some of the people went through that had a lot more things happen than they wanted.” Well, this book is all that and more. 14 8000m peaks packed into one book.

I said before that Ueli Steck was my Hero. Well, I think Kukuczka has become my new Hero!

I have to add that I read the book in Polish, which is readily available in Polish book stores. There is an English translation, which was published by The Mountaineers in 1992. However, it seems the book is now out of print and VERY hard to come by. Amazon.com lists 2 used starting at $249! Now while the book was good, not sure it’s worth that price for most people (it might be for me). However, this gives you a reason to browse used book stores wherever you happen to be and maybe find the gem! If you do, consider sending me the copy when you’re done… 😉 But in seriousness, if you happen to know of a decent way to get a hold of a copy, or have an IN with the publisher, let me know!

Wishing everyone out there a Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!