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On 5 March 2013 Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Malek made the historic first winter of Broad Peak.
Photo by Aleksander Lwow/Polski Himalaizm Zimowy archive

Broad Peak first winter ascent by Polish expedition!


On 5 March 2013 Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Malek made the historic first winter of Broad Peak. The Polish mountaineers are members of an expedition led by the living monument to alpinism Krzysztof Wielicki. With this latest success a staggering 9 first winter ascents of the massive 8000m peaks have been accomplished by Polish mountaineers.

Update on 08/03/2013 at 19:00

A few minutes ago Krzysztof Wielicki, leader of the winter expedition of Polish Mountaineering Association to Broad Peak, published a brief report on the official website stating that there is no more hope for Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, the two mountaineers reported missing on Wednesday morning after having summited the 12th highest mountain in the world. We believe nothing more needs adding to the words of Wielicki which are published below:

"Considering all the circumstances, conditions, my experience, history of Himalayan mountaineering, knowledge regarding physiology and high-altitude medicine as well as consultations with doctors and co-organizers of the expedition in Poland, I have to declare Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski dead.
Taking into account the time that has passed since the last contact, altitude where it took place, their condition, current weather conditions and all other factors, I have to claim openly that both climbers are dead.
The expedition has come to an end. We are packing the base camp and start to descend. March via the Baltoro Glacier will take approximately 5 days. We will come back to Poland on approximately 20th March. Due to lack of electricity, we will not have any possibilities to maintain contact via telephones or e-mails and thus, the will not be any information about us till approximately 15th March."

Krzysztof Wielicki - Leader of the winter expedition of Polish Mountaineering Association to Broad Peak

Update on 07/03/2013 at 10:10
According to the Polish TV channel tvn24 which followed the tragic turn of events on Broad Peak, there has been no contact with the two mountaineers Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, reported missing since Wednesday morning. Artur Małek and Kerim Nayyat, who began their descent yesterday afternoon, reached Base Camp last night. Fortunately both Małek and his summit partner Adam Bielecki are in good condition and have no frostbite. Currently visibility is good: all eyes (and the expedition telescope) and pinned on the descent route and Camp IV has been left established 7400m. Hope remains. But in an interview with the radio station RMF FM expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki stated that on the basis of his experience: "There is no chance. It's difficult... Very difficult..."

Update on 06/03/2013 at 19:00
According to what has just been published by founder of the Polish Winter Himalaism program Artur Hajzer on Facebook, Adam Bielecki has already reached Base Camp together with Pakistani mountaineer Shaheen Amin. Artur Małek and the other Pakistan mountaineer Kerim Nayyat will not spend the night at Camp IV as previously stated but are currently descending and should already be below 700m. Unfortunately there is still no news about Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, reported missing since this morning.

Update on 06/03/2013 at 16:36
Latest update from Poland: Adam Bielecki is descending. Krzysztof Wielicki has decided that Artur Małek and Kerim Nayyat (Pakistani mountaineer, Editor’s note) will stay at Camp 4 for another night to wait for the missing climbers. The last radio contact with Berbeka was made at 3 in the morning. The weather forecast for tomorrow is still bad so everyone should descend to below 7000m before 10 am.

Update on 06/03/2013 at 11:18
The news which comes from Broad Peak is still fragmented but the situation seems to have worsened. This is latest update sent to us from our colleagues from the Polish magazine Gory: Unfortunately at present there is no information about Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski. One of Pakistan climbers (probably one who was in Camp II) managed to ascend to 7600m but he didn't see them and didn't find their traces. The situation is really bad as a storm is expected for tomorrow, so everybody should go down as soon as possible today. There are still only few pieces of information to go by but apparently the situation is dramatic." This was confirmed by the founder of the Polish Winter Himalaism program Artur Hajzer who, according to information published on www.explorersweb.com, stated "We have to consider two of the four Polish climbers who conquered Broad Peak, missing."
After having reached the summit yesterday Artur Małek and Adam Bielecki had managed to descend to Campo 4 at 7400m while Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski (the two mountaineers considered missing) were forced to spend the night at 7900m, on the col between Broad Peak central and the pre-summit: a terrible place for a bivy. The situation is confused at present and the only thing one can do is wait...

Update on 06/03/2013 at 10:00
Difficult hours for Poles on Broad Peak first winter ascent: the situation is currently extremely difficult for the Polish mountaineers who carried out the first winter ascent of Broad Peak yesterday: while Artur Malek and Adam Bielecki spent the night at Camp IV, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski bivied at the col at 7900m.

Published on 05/03/2013
We received the news a short while ago and it was then confirmed on site explorersweb.com. Between 17:30 and 18:00 (local time) Polish alpinists Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Malek reached the summit of Broad Peak (8051m), making the first winter ascent of the 12th highest mountain in the world. Currently there are no further details, and it is believed that the 4 mountaineers are now down in Camp 4 at 7.400m.

According to the official expedition website (http://polishwinterhimalaism.pl) Berbeka, Bielecki, Kowalski and Malek began their summit push at 5:15 this morning starting from their Camp 4 located at 7400m. At 11:00 they passed the difficult crevasse at 7850m. At 12:00 they reached the col that separates Broad Peak Central from the pre-summit. Then they reached the summit between 17:30 and 18:00. And now everyone is keeping their fingers crossed and waiting for them to return to Base Camp.

Today's ascent was great! A "first winter ascent" that goes straight into the history of Himalayan mountaineering. They fully deserve all our congratulations! As does their expedition leader, the immense Krzysztof Wielicki who, among other things, has three 8000er winter ascents under his belt. The exact same number as another great Himalayan mountaineer, Maciej Berbeka, who with today's Broad Peak summit brings his tally to three, while teammate Adam Bielecki celebrated his second winter success as making the first winter ascent of Gasherbrum I last year together with Janusz Golab

Talking about statistics and Eightthousander winter ascents, only two Himalayan giants still wait to be climbed in the coldest season, namely K2 and Nanga Parbat (unsurprisingly). To these must be added an ascent of Everest without supplementary oxygen in winter entirely (on 22 December 1987 Ang Rita reached the summit of Everest without O2 but the expedition had begun in October). Of the 12 8000ers currently climbed in winter, a staggering 9 were ascended first of all by Polish mountaineers. These include the hattricks of Wielicki (Everest, Kangchenjunga, Lhotse), Kukuczka (Dhaulagiri, Kangchenjunga, Annapurna) and now Berbeka (Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Broad Peak). These are flanked by the first three first winter ascents by the "non Pole" Simone Moro (Shishapangma, Makalu, Gasherbrum II). And by the two winter ascent of the super Kazakh climber Denis Urubko (Makalu, Gasherbrum II) plus one (Gasherbrum II) by America's Cory Richards. So one could state that when it comes to first winter ascents on the Himalayan giants, Poland beats the rest 9:3 (or rather 9.5 since Moro ascended Shisha Pangma with Poland's Piotr Morawski.

Statistics aside though, now we need to wait for the entire summit team to return safely to base camp... Our thoughts are with them!


Everest: Krzysztof Wielicki, Leszek Cichy (Pol) 17 Feb 1980
Manaslu: Maciej Berbeka, Ryszard Gajewski (Pol) 12 Jan 1984
Dhaulagiri: Andrzej Czok, Jerzy Kukuczka (Pol) 21 Jan 1985
Cho Oyu: Maciej Berbeka, Maciej Pawlikowski (Pol) 12 Feb 1985
Kangchenjunga: Krzysztof Wielicki, Jerzy Kukuczka (Pol) 11 Jan 1986
Annapurna: Jerzy Kukuczka, Artur Hajzer (Pol) 03 Feb 1987
Lhotse: Krzysztof Wielicki (Pol) 31 Dec 1988
Shishapangma: Piotr Morawski (Pol), Simone Moro (Ita) 14 Jan 2005
Makalu: Simone Moro (Ita), Denis Urubko (Kaz) 09 Feb 2009
Gasherbrum II: Simone Moro (Ita), Denis Urubko (Kaz), Cory Richards (USA) 02 Feb 2011
Gasherbrum I: Adam Bielecki, Janusz Golab (Pol) 09 Mar 2012
Broad Peak: Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Malek (Pol) 5 Mar 2013

06/03/2013 - Difficult hours for Poles on Broad Peak first winter ascent
07/03/2013 - Simone Moro, the drama on Broad Peak and winter mountaineering in the Himalaya

08/03/2013 - Broad Peak: all hope lost for Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski





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