Winter 8000

While you wouldn’t expect climbing an 8000-metre peak in winter to be a popular activity, there have been 178 expeditions (as of 2019) to the Himalaya and Karakoram during the cruelest season to do just that. Polish alpinist, Voytek Kurtyka, termed the practice the “art of suffering.” The stories begin with the original Ice Warrior, Andrzej Zawada, and his Polish team of Himalayan climbers who systematically claimed first winter ascents of more than half of the 8000ers. But although Polish climbers dominated the winter game for a generation, this story is international: Swiss climber Marianne Chapuisat’s first female winter ascent of an 8000er, American Cory Richards and his dramatic effort on Gasherbrum II with famed Italian alpinist Simone Moro and Kazakh hard man Denis Urubko, and many more. Award-winning author Bernadette McDonald traveled extensively to interview many of the climbers featured in this book, including Elisabeth Revol, who made the first female winter ascent of Nanga Parbat with Tomek Mackiewicz, as well as Anna Mackiewicz, his widow, meeting them shortly after Tomek’s death on the mountain and Elisabeth’s dramatic solo descent and rescue. McDonald’s many personal relationships with profiled climbers and her ability to tap into emotions and family histories lend Winter 8000 an intimacy too often lacking in mountaineering histories.

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