May 26, 2011 Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Two years have almost passed since I began working on my book about the golden age of Polish Himalayan climbing. About a month ago my publisher Rocky Mountain Books and I signed off on the final manuscript, the photos, the cover design and all the other last-minute decisions. We agreed on the title, “Freedom Climbers”, since it encapsulates the context within which this remarkable group of climbers thrived. Here is what my publisher has written on their online catalogue about the book”

Between 1980 and 1989, Polish climbers were giant, worldwide leaders as high-altitude climbers, especially in the Himalayas. This volume documents those charismatic leaders and their iconic climbs in a defining chapter of Himalayan climbing history.”

Reinhold Messner, world-renowned climber, explorer and author of 40 books on mountaineering, including The Naked Mountain, Free Spirit: A Climber’s Life and The Second Death of George Mallory

Renowned author Bernadette McDonald weaves a passionate and literary tale of adventure, politics, suffering, death and, ultimately, inspiration. Freedom Climbers tells the story of a group of extraordinary Polish adventurers who emerged from under the blanket of oppression following the Second World War to become the world’s leading Himalayan climbers. Although they lived in a dreary, war-ravaged landscape, with seemingly no hope of creating a meaningful life, these curious, motivated and skilled mountaineers created their own free-market economy under the very noses of their Communist bosses and climbed their way to liberation. At a time when Polish citizens were locked behind the Iron Curtain, these intrepid explorers found a way to travel the world in search of extreme adventures to Alaska, South America and Europe, but mostly to the highest and most inspiring mountains of the world. To this end, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal became their second homes as they evolved into the toughest group of Himalayan climbers the world has ever known.

“Freedom Climbers” will be available in September of this year and I will be giving a lecture about the book at the Banff Mountain Book Festival in early November. To see the cover, go to

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