In memory of Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)

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In memory of Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)
Created On: May 11, 2008
Last Edited On: Apr 22, 2010

Introduction and the most important atteinments

Wanda Rutkiewicz on Nanga Parbat (1985)
Wanda Rutkiewicz on Mount Everest 1978
Wanda Rutkiewicz before summit of Mount Everest 1978
I would like to remind SP community of wonderful woman,because of 16 th anniversary of her disappearance on Kangchenjunga 12th or 13th May in 1992.
This summit would have been her ninth 8000 meter peak and now she could probably have been the first woman who would reach all 14 8000meter peaks.She wanted to do it.She died on Kangchenjunga somewhere over 8000 meters while attempting via the southwest face route.She climbed with Carlos Carsolio. They started together at 3:30 am 12.05.1992 from camp
IV - 7950 meters. After about a dozen hours of climbing in a deep snow Carlos reached the top. He went down and met Wanda around 8200-8300 meters on the way down. She decided to stay there on a bivouac and started solo for the top the next day. No one ever saw Wanda again... She was the most famous Polish woman Alpine and Himalayan mountain climber :

Her 8000 meter peaks:

16.10.1978- Mount Everest- she was first European woman,
first Polish and third woman who reached it.
15.07.1985- Nanga Parbat-with Krystyna Palmowska and Anna Czerwinska.
They bacame first only women's team who scaled this peak.
23.06.1986- K2-the first ever woman on the top this peak,also first Polish.
18.09.1987- Shisha Pangma
12.07.1989- Gasherbrum II
16.07.1990- Gasherbrum I with Ewa Panejko-Pankiewicz
26.09.1991- Cho Oyu- solo ascent
22.10.1991- Annapurna- solo ascent via South Face

Her other more important atteinments:

1968- East Face of Trollryggen in Norway,with Halina Krüger-Syrokomska,
first women's ascent
1970- Pik Lenin (7134m),Pamir
1972- Noshaq (7492 m),Hindukush
1973- North Face of Eiger (3970m) first women's team ascent
with Danuta Gellner and Stefania Egierszdorff
1975- she was leading of Gasherbrum's expedition-very successful.
They reached virgin summit of Gasherbrum III (7946m) and after that
2 women( Halina Krüger-Syrokomska,Anna Okopinska) from this team
reached Gasherbrum II (8035m)
1978- North Face of Matterhorn in winter- women's team ascent
1985- Aconcagua- alpine style via South Face

Family and her life..

Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)
Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)
Wanda was born 4th February 1943 in the village Plungiany(today's Lithuania).Her family moved to Wroclaw in Western Poland after II world war. Wanda was touched by death in her family as a young girl.In 1949 died her elder brother.He was playing near the active mine.She had younger sister and brother as well.In 1972 died her father.Wanda didn't have strong relationship with him but he left her great passion for sport.She was training high jumping,volley-ball,jogging,shot-putting.Her mountain's adventure started at rocks near Jelenia Gora and climbing course in Tatra's in 1962.She liked climbing with women and was very independent.Wanda wanted to fight with stereotype of weak woman.Her climbing trainers were showing photos from different climbing accidents all the time,but she didn't give up;). She was a student of engineering college in Wroclaw,so her studies were also „occupied” by men;).Wanda was working as an engineer in Wroclaw and Warszawa.She had 2 husbands,but her great love was a German doctor climber Kurt Lyncekrüger who fell down and died on her eyes during their climb on Broad Peak.She broke her trip then.It was very hurtful event in her life and last life's partner.

About Wanda Rutkiewicz

Wanda Rutkiewicz (1943-1992)
„She lost 30 friends or partners during her 25-years of climbing.What an uncompromising spirit and unsubdued energy provide her again in the mountains”

„She doesn't have family and children,mountains are meaning of her life...”

Wanda said: „I had very interesting men but they have never created my life”

You can read about Wanda Rutkiewicz in books :
English language:
Jennifer Jordan „The life and death of the first women of K2”
Gertrude Reinisch „A Caravan of Dreams”
German language:
Gertrude Reinisch „Karawane der Träume”
Luisa Francia „Der untere Himmel. Frauen in eisigen Höhen”



Post a Comment
Viewing: 41-52 of 52

gorida - Dec 29, 2008 6:00 pm - Voted 10/10

piotr pustelnik

I saw a documentary about Wanda's life last year titled 'Caravan of Dreams' ( much more about Wanda can you also find in Jennifer Jordan's book "Savage Summit"( anyways, thank you for this article Ivona. I placed it as a link to our blog post today. btw, do you by any chance have this photo in better resolution (


Ivona - Jan 3, 2009 4:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: piotr pustelnik

thanks for you suggestions.I read this book and watched that film.There are more books about Wanda but in Polish language (for example an interviews with her and with her friends).Of course I didn't write about many personal things and events in her life also about details from her mountain trips.I wanted to create short article only about her atteinments.
We have now in Poland a great serie of books:"Polish Himalaya".Each of book has got DVD with documental films also about Wanda and her trips.Unfortunatelly I don't have this photo in better condition


gorida - Jan 16, 2009 5:20 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: piotr pustelnik

Thank you for your response Ivona. Who made that DVD and documentary about Wanda?


Ivona - Jan 31, 2009 8:59 am - Hasn't voted

Re: piotr pustelnik

These books were published by Polish newspaper "Gazeta Wyborcza".It was a serie- 1 book weekly.Together 6 books and DVD.It was also English version.(I mean DVD)
All serie was about Polish Himalaya climbers,but one of the book was about Polish women in Himalaya and most of it was about Wanda


Mountain_girl - Mar 12, 2009 11:11 pm - Voted 10/10

thank you!

for writing this article! She is my hero :)


Ivona - Mar 13, 2009 4:08 am - Hasn't voted

Re: thank you!

I'm glad you like it!


Ivona - Sep 21, 2009 11:53 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Well done...

thanks a lot for your kind words! it's good to hear that you had so nice memories despite of that hard time in Poland.
All the best!


ODarrow - Oct 8, 2011 1:49 pm - Hasn't voted


Such passion for mountains


ericvola - Feb 1, 2012 6:40 am - Voted 9/10

Freedom Climbers

"...Perhaps she had prepared herself - and others - for this day by limiting her ties. She left few personal effects and no emotional luggage. Wanda had travelled lightly on earth.
Krysztof felt that this was the real flaw in her life. 'Wanda did one mistake', he said. 'She left husband; she left familiy; she left friends. She had no one to come back to. She had no job, no profession, no garden, no other interests. She had no fallback position. She had nothing. She was completely alone and there was nobody waiting for her at home.
Her words of advice to those mourning Jurek a few years before now seemed appropriate for her: "We should not presume to judge those who seek out danger on the world's highest places or demand to be told the meaning of what they do", she said at the time. "Simply, when they pay the ultimate price for their passion, we should remember them..."

Extract from Freedom Climbers - Bernadette McDonald 2011.

The best mountain book for years (2011 Boardman Tasker) and the best on the greatest Polish climbers of the 1970-2000 era. A must for all Polish climbers and in fact for all climbers.
Note that Krysztof is the great Polish climber Krzysztof Wielicki and Jurek is the second to none Jerzy Kukuczka.


Ivona - Feb 6, 2012 1:49 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Freedom Climbers

This article is about Wanda as female climber,not about the best Polish climbers.Krzysztof and Jurek are the best indeed.There is no doubt about it.I heard what Krzysztof said about Wanda.He speaks this every time when he has meetings with people.Maybe it is right,anyway -is it fair to leave family and children and die in the mountains? what is fair and what is the best solution? it's difficult to say...


DamianG - Oct 13, 2015 5:42 am - Hasn't voted

List of ascent of Wanda

Hello, here you have more ascent of Wanda Rutkiewicz with short biography


Ivona - Oct 14, 2015 5:53 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: List of ascent of Wanda

thanks Damian ;)

Viewing: 41-52 of 52