Wanda Rutkiewicz honoured by Google
Polish mountaineer Wanda Rutkiewicz is honoured today with a Google doodle. Recognised as one of the greatest mountaineers of all times, on 16 October 1978 she became the third woman to climb Everest, while in 1986 with France’s Liliane Barrard she became the first woman to climb K2. She ascended eight 8000ers before perishing on Kangchenjunga in 1992.
After Junko Tabei in September, Google has now dedicated another doodle to another extraordinary mountaineer, Wanda Rutkiewicz. Born on 4 February 1943, the Pole is celebrated by Google for having become, 41 years ago today, the third woman ever to reach the summit of Everest after Japan’s Junko Tabei and Tibet’s Phatong in 1975.
Everest was Rutkiewicz's first 8000er and cambe about after the first ascent of Gasherbrum III (7952m) in 1975 with Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz, Janusz Onyszkiewicz and Krzysztof Zdzitowiecki. Rutkiewicz reached the summit of Everest on 16 October 1978 as part of an international expedition led by Germany’s Dr. Karl Herrligkoffer, and her success received huge international acclaim, in particular in her home country as no other Pole had ever climbed the highest mountain in the world before. The media attention was so great that the following year Rutkiewicz even met Pope John Paul II, who was visiting Poland after having been elected pontiff on - coincidentally - the same day as Rutkiewicz's historic ascent of Everest.
Wanda Rutkiewicz was known for her charisma, for her ambition, her tenacity, toughness and her sheer determination, thanks to which she climbed seven other 8000ers in a very short time frame: Nanga Parbat in 1985, K2 in 1986 (without supplementary oxygen, first Polish ascent and first female ascent, together with the expert French mountaineer Liliane Barrard and husband Maurice Barrard who disappeared during the descent), Shishapangma in 1987, Gasherbrum II in 1989, Gasherbrum I in 1990, Cho Oyu in 1991 and Annapurna I in 1991. Her stated dream of becoming the first woman to ascend all 14 x 8000ers ground to an abrupt halt in 1992 when she perished while attempting Kangchenjunga. Rutkiewicz was last seen by an utterly exhausted Carlos Carsolio as he descended from the summit, while she desperately sought shelter in a snowhole. She was alone at about 8300m, without bivy gear and determined to continue her ascent the next day.
Miss Elizabeth Hawley, for decades the undisputed reference point for all Himalayan expeditions, said of her in no uncertain terms: "Wanda Rutkiewicz will go down in history as one of the greats of mountaineering." Indeed!
Link: Google Doodle Wanda Rutkiewicz