Shisha Pangma and Kukuczka’s 14th 8000er. Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka became the second person after Reinhold Messner to scale the world’s 14 highest mountains when he completed his ascent of Shisha Pangma. The 13-member international team, which he led, established Base Camp on August 22 at 5800 meters. To acclimatize, Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer climbed virgin P 7365, north of the Shisha Pangma massif. Bad weather with much snow delayed progress, but three camps were established at 6400, 6800 and 7000 meters. By mid September the skies cleared and the final attack could begin. On September 18 at five P.M., Kukuczka and Hajzer reached the summit, having ascended the unclimbed west ridge. The climb was made in three days alpine-style, starting from Camp Ia. On the way they made the first ascent of the western peak (c. 7966 meters, 26,083 feet). At the same time, Mexicans Elsa Avila and Carlos Carsolio, Ecuadorian Ramiro Navarrete, and Poles Wanda Rutkiewicz and Ryszard Warecki arrived on top. The following day, Englishman Alan Hinkes and American Steve Untch attained the summit via another new route, the central couloir of the north face. After a bivouac, Kukuczka skied down from the summit. On September 24, they left Base Camp. A total of nine climbers reached the summit, two of them ladies. They made two impressive new routes, the third and fourth on Shisha Pangma. Two virgin peaks were ascended. Elsa Avila is the first Latin-American women to top an 8000er. Wanda Rutkiewicz became the first and only woman to have climbed four 8000ers, which include Everest and K2. The most remarkable success, however, is that of Kukuczka. In nine years, he climbed all fourteen 8000ers, outclassing Messner in the style of his ascents. While the famous Tirolean made some of his climbs by the standard routes and with Sherpa help, Kukuczka climbed all except Lhotse by new routes or in winter. Cho Oyu, Kangchenjunga and Annapurna were first winter ascents.
Józef Nyka, Editor, Taternik, Poland