Pustelnik is ending his career among the highest peaks of the world. Today he
leaves for his last expedition to Broad Peak (8047 m). - I’m done with
eight-thousand-meter-high mountains. It’s the end. It’s over - says Piotr
The world-famous mountaineer from Łódź has climbed 12
eight-thousand-meter high peaks. Only two mountains remain to be conquered in
order to win him the Himalayan Crown, i.e. all 14 peaks over 8 thousand meters
high. These are Annapurna and Broad Peak. But there will be no Crown. He
disclosed to us first that after 16 years he is finally ending his career with
the highest peaks in the world.
The decision was made during the attack on Annapurna (8091 m), which ended three
weeks ago. This was Pustelnik’s third attempt at conquering the mountain, and
the third time to no avail, though the peak was not far. - I don’t want to force
myself into the 14-mountain magic, as this mountain, which I tried to conquer
for the third time, sucked up all my climbing skills, my humanity - says Piotr
The Annapurna expedition was very dramatic. The weather was against them. Piotr
Pustelnik, together with Piotr Morawski, Peter Hamor from Slovakia and the
Tibetan climber Lotse spent a long time in their tents waiting for the weather
to improve. If this wasn’t enough, their rations ran low, and when the weather
finally did improve, all they were left with was soup in packets. Next, they had
one teabag per day, and in the end they drank only pure water. - Luckily we had
enough gas and we were able to boil it, but we had become too weak to climb to
the peak. We had to eat something, but there was nothing to be eaten - says the
The real drama lay ahead. When they started climbing the eastern peak of
Annapurna (8010 m), the Tibetan guide began to lose his sight. The experienced
mountaineers knew this was the beginning of snow conjunctivitis and which lasts
about five days, provided that the climber is brought down. Peter Hamor went
towards the peak (and conquered it), whereas the Tibetan Lotse together with
Piotr Pustelnik and Piotr Morawski started the descent. This time they took the
difficult route and secured themselves with ropes. During the descent Lotse lost
his sight completely.
The decision to retreat and give up the quest was not an easy one. - Piotr and I
told ourselves: there are two solutions: we behave humanely and stay with Lotse
until he regains his sight, or we turn away from him. The latter solution would
never allow us to look in the mirror again. We have to decide who we wanted to
be. Today, I can speak calmly of it, but those conversations were not calm in
the least - reveals Piotr Pustelnik.
Extremely exhausted, they continued the descent. Lotse regained his sight after
three days. Piotr Pustelnik entered the base camp with his mind fixed on
finishing with eight-thousand-meter high mountains.
I don’t want to trek along the eight-thousanders
"Gazeta": Are you sad?
Piotr Pustelnik: - I’m very happy to have made the decision. My capacity with
the high mountains is coming to an end. Sportsmen also come to the end of their
careers, it’s better to end it on a nice expedition rather than to get a kick in
the butt and return in shame with your tail curled up.
Why Broad Peak, then?
- I need to finish my “Himalayan Triptych” [Cho Oyu, Annapurna, Broad Peak -
ed.], that’s for sure. I want to bid the mountains farewell in Karakorum, where
I started my adventure with climbing.
What will you do now?
- I will climb smaller mountains; I will carry out other projects. I don’t want
to keep trekking the eight-thousanders, because I will lose my life to it.
You once received the Fair Play award for saving an Italian climber on K2. You
gave him intravenous injections while both of you were dangling on a line. You
brought him down with the help of Rysiek Pawłowski and you managed to get back
up to climb to the K2 peak. Now you deserve the Fair Play award again.
- Normal, humane behaviour should not be the subject of awards.
Interview by: Wioletta Gnacikowska
The career of Piotr Pustelnik
Piotr has climbed 12 eight-thousand-meter-high peaks and has been on them 13
times (climbing Gasherbrum II twice). Only Annapurna, which denied him success
for the third time now and Broad Peak remain for him to win the Himalayan Crown.
He has attempted to climb Broad Peak twice already. Now he is trying for a third
Gasherbrum II - July 19th, 1990
2. Nanga Parbat - July 12th, 1992
3. Cho-Oyu - September 24th, 1993
4. Shisha Pangma - October 6th, 1993
5. Dhaulagiri - September 26th, 1994
6. Mount Everest - May 12th, 1995
7. K2 - August 14th, 1996
8. Gasherbrum I - July 15th, 1997
9. Gasherbrum II - July 21st, 1997
10. Lhotse May 15th, 2000
11. Kanczendzonga - May 15th, 2001
12. Makalu - May 16th, 2002
13. Manaslu - May 17th, 2003
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