Freedom Climbers Reviews and Endorsements

“A gripping read, bound to become a classic of mountain literature.” Maria Coffey, author of Explorers of the Infinite

“A brilliantly crafted tale of mountain and political adventure that reveals a golden era in Himalayan climbing that was as glorious as it was tragic.” Sir Chris Bonington, author of Chris Bonington’s Everest

“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

“McDonald deserves special praise for bringing to light the stories of these remarkable men and women, and doing so in a manner that does honour to their memory.” Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

“This important book is about the significant Polish contribution to Himalayan mountain climbing made during a period that, paradoxically, was one of adversity for our nation. It is the story of how Poles, in their quest for freedom, challenged others with the new standards they set, all the while carrying the Polish flag to the world’s highest summits.” Krzysztof Wielicki, renowned Polish alpine and high-altitude climber

“With this fourth mountain history book, McDonald climbs right up into the ranks of the best mountain chroniclers. Freedom Climbers builds around the elements that have made all of McDonald’s books so good – superb research, deep access to the climbers themselves, even deeper passion for and understanding of the mountain world – and then becomes so much more: this is a history of a nation, a time, and a very unique tribe whose story is finally told, and told very, very well.” Geoff Powter, author of Strange and Dangerous Dreams

“Page-turning accounts of suffer-fests on bold new routes, many of them done ‘fast and light’ in winter, from the golden age of Polish mountaineering in the Himalaya and Greater Ranges. Heart-wrenching tales of friends and families who were abandoned to their dreary Soviet era lives when the mountains claimed their loved ones. Best of all, this book lays bare the complex mix of patriotic fervor and ravenous egos that led to a legacy of insanely difficult climbs on the 7 and 8000ers unmatched by any other nation before or since.” Pat Morrow, mountaineer, photographer and author of Beyond Everest

“Talk about labour of love! A book like this takes years. Writing with authority from inside mountaineering, and also as a woman in a fiercely male world, Bernadette McDonald has crafted a real-life page-turner about dangerous heroics and obsessive derring-do. This work is built to last.” Ken McGoogan, author of Fatal Passage, Ancient Mariner, Lady Franklin’s Revenge, and Race to the Polar Sea

“Painstakingly researched and well crafted, this remarkable book acknowledges the significance of Polish mountaineers during the Golden Age of Himalayan exploration. Resourceful, stoic and visionary, these climbers seem to draw strength from the adverse political system they find themselves in. Fascinating.” Andy Cave, author of The Thin White Line and Learning to Breath

“For many years, we in the climbing community have stood in awe of the accomplishments of Polish climbers. Relatively late into the Himalyan game due to political and monetary restrictions enforced onto them within their own country, the Poles sought the mountains as their escape. It was in fact the hardships they endured within Poland that hardened them physically and emotionally to seek out and endure the toughest climbs in the world. Freedom Climbers is a very enlightening and captivating look at the Polish climbing superstars, what drives them, their amazing accomplishments and their continuing role in pushing the limits in the mountain arena.” Ed Viesturs, author of No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks and K2: Life and Death on the World’s Most Dangerous Mountain

“This well-researched book fills a big gap in mountain writing and will be a revelation to many afficianados of alpine literature. In describing how Polish climbers outwitted their Communist leaders and came to dominate Himalayan mountaineering in the 1980s, Bernadette McDonald introduces us to the country’s key mountaineers, taking the reader from deep within Communist controlled Poland and into the lonely, dramatic landscapes of the world’s most formidable mountain ranges.” Jim Curran, artist, climber and author of High Achiever: The Life and Climbs of Chris Bonington, K2: The Story of the Savage Mountain and The Nameless Tower