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8000 Meter Peaks

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EverestHistory.com: Jerzy "Jurek" Kukuczka


There have been a lot of rivalries surrounding Everest over the years, some so subtle they went unnoticed, some so blatant they erupted into a full-fledged battle-of-wills at base camp. Few however endured as long or seemed as heroic as the battle between Jerzy "Jurek" Kukuczka and Reinhold Messner during the early 80s. Both men were attempting to be the first climber to summit all 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters.

While Messner would finish a year ahead of Kukuczka, it would take Messner 16 years to complete this feat compared to only 8 for Kukuczka.

Kukuczka was born in Katowice (Poland) in 1948, and died attempting the South Face of Lhotse on October 24, 1989 at an altitude of about 8200 meters. A second-hand rope he had picked up in a market in Katmandu snapped during the climb plunging him to his death. During his quest for the 14 summits Kukuczka would establish nine new routes and would perform one solo summit, four in alpine style, and four during the winter. In fact given that Kukuczka established so many new routes and made many of his ascents during the winter combined with operating from an impoverished communist country (Kukuczka's equipment was often hand-made and clothes second-hand) many consider his achievement to be greater that Messner's.

On May 19, 1980 Kukuczka and Andrzej Czok (on the Polish National Expedition led by Andrezej Zswada) established a new Everest route by following the South Pillar on the right-hand edge of the Southwest Face.

It is one of 15 established routes.

His 8000-meter climbs included:

1979 - Lhotse

1980 - Mount Everest

1981 - Makalu (solo)

1982 - Broad Peak

1983 - Gasherbrum II

1983 - Gasherbrum I

1984 - Broad Peak

1985 - Dhaulagiri

1985 - Cho Oyu

1985 - Nanga Parbat

1986 - Kangchenjunga

1986 - K2

1986 - Manaslu

1987 - Annapurna I

1987 - Shishapangma

1989 - Lhotse Unclimbed South Face in winter (died)

   






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