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Wojciech "Voytek" Kurtyka

Wojciech "Voytek" Kurtyka

Wojciech Kurtyka was born in polish village Skrzynka (1947, 20 Sep) - He is one of the best polish climbers. He has lots of first ascents in Tatra Mountains, Himalays, Alps and many others.

Wojciech Kurtyka ascended Dhaulagiri I in 1980, Broad Peak in 1982, Gasherbrum II East (first ascent with Jerzy Kukuczka), Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I in 1983, Broad Peak again (first traverse over Broad North- and Central-Peaks with Jerzy Kukuczka) in 1984, Gasherbrum IV NE-Peak across the incredible West Face with Robert Schauer in 1985. Cho Oyu and Shisha Pangma Central-Peak in 1990.

Kurtyka became well known abroad in early 1973 after achieving the first winter ascent of Trollveggen (Troll Wall) in Norway, the highest vertical cliff on the continent (4 men Polish team, see the list of climbs below). He started in Greater Ranges in 1972, completing a little-known – but important according to him – first ascent of the wall of Akher Chogh in Hindu Kush, in lightweight, alpine style. He started climbing in the Himalayas in 1974. After participating in two big Polish national expeditions in 1974 and 1976, he gradually turned to lightweight expeditions.

Wojtek Kurtyka. Photo: Lukasz Warzecha

More information you will see on this site (soon here will be more information in english)


Tatra Mountains

1970, 2 Aug – Kurtykówka VI+, new route on NE face of Mały Młynarz. Team: Michał Gabryel, Janusz Kurczab, Wojciech Kurtyka.

1971, 25, 27, 28 and 29-31 Dec – Ściek VI A3, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. First winter ascent. Team: Michał Gabryel, Marek Kęsicki, Wojciech Kurtyka, Janusz Kurczab, Andrzej Mierzejewski, Janusz Skorek.

1971, 24-28 Mar - Direttissima (VI A2-A3), Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. First winter ascent: Tadeusz Gibiński, Michał Gabryel, Wojciech Kurtyka, Andrzej Wilusz.

1972, 29-31 Dec - Pająki(Spiders) (VI A3), Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. First winter ascent. Team: Kazimierz Głazek, Marek Kęsicki, Wojciech Kurtyka, Andrzej Wilusz.

1973, 28-30 Dec - Superściek V A2, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. New route and in winter. Team: Piotr Jasiński, Wojciech Kurtyka, Krzysztof Pankiewicz, Zbigniew Wach.

1978, 4-5 Mar - Czyżewski-Kurtyka (VI+, A2+), Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. New route. Team: Zbigniew Czyżewski (Małolat), Wojciech Kurtyka

1987, 26-28 Feb - Kurtyka-Marcisz, IV A2 ice 80-90, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. New route in winter, 26 hours non-stop. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Andrzej Marcisz.

1991 - Łamaniec VI.5 (7c+, bolted), Raptawicka Turnia. First that hard route in Tatra Mountains. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Grzegorz Zajda.

1992 - Gacopyrz Now VIII+, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. New route. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Andrzej Marcisz.

Kant Filara VII+, Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka. First free ascent. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Władysław Janowski.


1971 – Ratti/Vitali, W face Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, Mont Blanc. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Janusz Kurczab.

1973 – Voie Petit Jean, N face Aiguille du Dru. New route named after Jan Franczuk, who died in 1971 on Kunyang Chhish). Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojtek Kurtyka, Marek Łukaszewski.

1975 - Pointe Hélène, aka Polish Route, N faceGrandes Jorasses. Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojtek Kurtyka, Marek Łukaszewski.

Hindu Kush

1972 – NE face of Akher Chagh (7017 m). New route, alpine style (one of first ascent in that style in high mountains). Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Piotr Jasiński, Marek Kowalczyk.

1977, 9-14 Aug – NE Kohe Bandaka (6843 m). New route, alpine style. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Alex MacIntyre, John Porter.

Himalays, Karakorum

1978, 18-29 Sep – S pillar of Changabang (6864 m). Team: Alex MacIntyre, Wojciech Kurtyka, John Porter, Krzysztof Żurek.

1980, 18 May – First ascent on E face of Dhaulagiri. Team: René Ghiline, Wojciech Kurtyka, Alex MacIntyre and Ludwik Wilczyński.

1981 – two attempts to W face of Makalu. First in spring with Alex MacIntyre and in autumn with Jerzy Kukuczka.

1982 – Travers of Broad Peak. Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojciech Kurtyka

1983, 1 Jul – Gasherbrum II, after traverse from unclimbed Gasherbrum II East (7772 m). Team: Jerzy Kukuczka , Wojciech Kurtyka.

1983, 23 Jul – Gasherbrum I. New route on SW Face. Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojciech Kurtyka.

1984, 16 Jul - Broad Peak Middle. Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojciech Kurtyka.

1984, 17 Jul - Broad Peak. End of traverse three peaks of massif Broad Peak. Team: Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojciech Kurtyka.

1985 – First ascent on W face of Gasherbrum IV (7925 m), without Peak, alpine style. One of the greatest ascent in that style. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Robert Schauer.

1988, 24 Jun-13 Jul – First ascent on E face Trango Nameless Tower (6238 m). First ascent in only 2 person, 4 team on peak. Team: Wojtek Kurtyka, Erhard Loretan.

1990, 21 Sep – SW face of Cho Oyu. Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Erhard Loretan, Jean Troillet.

1990, 3 Oct – SW face of Shisha Pangma, without Peak.Team: Wojciech Kurtyka, Erhard Loretan, Jean Troillet.

1997 – Attempt to Nanga Parbat with Erhard Loretan


1974, 7-19 Mar – French Route (6+, A4, 1100 m). First winter ascent on N face Trollveggen (Troll Face), Norway. Team: Marek Kęsicki, Ryszard KowalewskiWojciech KurtykaTadeusz Piotrowski.

1976 – Filar Abazego VI.3+ TR (7a+). That time, the hardest sport climbing in Poland. In 1985 Woytek do free solo on that route. Check film „Free climbing” in this article.

1993 - Chiński Maharadża VI.5 (7c+), free solo. Voytek Kurtyka was 46 years old! To this day is the hardest free solo in Poland!

1993 - 1993 - Shock the Monkey VI.5+/6 (8a/a+) RP, Pochylec. The hardest sport climbing route of Voytek.

 Voytek Kurtyka quotes

Mountaineering is a complex and unique way of life, interweaving elements of sport, art and mysticism. Success or failure depends on the ebb and flow of immense inspiration. Detecting a single rule governing this energy is difficult – it arises and vanishes like the urge to dance and remains as mysterious as the phenomenon of life itself. Wojciech Kurtyka

I don’t like egocentricity, which is something that I have arduously battled in myself my entire life. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

…every type of evil we’ve got in us is the result of that one true illness of the human mind - that is, of being self-centered. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

The most significant dimension of freedom is the freedom from one’s own ego - in other words, from the feeling that I am the center of everything Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Stupidity is falling pray to your own illusions. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

I like to describe Himalayan climbing as a kind of art of suffering. Just pushing, pushing yourself to your limits. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Every move is a creation,
Maintaining the delicate balance is a creation,
The line is a creation,
Survival is a creation,
Freedom is a creation. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

I see one single suitable role for my life’s work: for it to be a gift to others. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Such ventures required a more hairbreadth creativity: a finer balance between hazard and endurance; talent and vision; a willingness to accept that control may only be an illusion, that success is determined not by the summit, but by the means alone  and that at times your survival, may be the only reward.  On experimenting with styles and technical routes on Everest. The most minimalist form of 8000-meter alpine style night-naked climbing , in which mind and body listen to a new voice, follow a new rhythm (away from) the known paths… without rules or routines to rely on … (where) the only advice comes from deep inside the self… (and) the mountaineer is creative, not merely a participant in sport.
Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

If there is such a thing as spiritual materialism, it is displayed in the urge to possess the mountains rather than to unravel and accept their mysteries. Wojciech Kurtyka (Voytek Kurtyka)

Beauty is the door to another world… Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Whenever a climber leaves the known paths, he enters an area without rules or routines... The only advice comes from deep inside the self. Voytek Kurtyka

Other extremely alluring traits (in people) are simplicity and naturalness.  Simplicity and naturalness are never painfully obvious qualities, and yet which I come across them in a person, I get this sense of a firm foundation and of a direct access to truth. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

"Isn’t a person who can live on nothing much stronger?  I try to nurture that transformation in myself. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Enslavement to your own weakness - be it an addiction to alcohol, or to a woman or to fame - it’s degrading, and it means losing your dignity and your freedom. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

When you are totally defeated you begin again to enjoy the small things around you. Just going to the mountains, not for victory or glory, but to enjoy nature or enjoy fine people. If you always succeed you enjoy the admiration of many people. Being defeated means being limited to the basis existential choices of life. If you can enjoy the quiet evening hours it is beautiful; a hero who always succeeds may not have time to enjoy such things. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

The essence of adventure is being put in an unknown position from which you don’t know what will happen. The unknown is the essence of adventure. And on Trango Tower the aspect of adventure was not so great as on Gasherbrum IV or on the Broad Peak traverse, because we fixed 500 meters of rope for the descent. The ropes were there, so it was not a position of being completely unknown. This possible escape eliminated an aspect of adventure. But another aspect of adventure is facing up to the unexpected, and this happened a lot on Trango Tower. We never knew what the next pitch would be or if the weather would hold. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka) [Wojciech Kurtyka, The East Face of Trango’s Nameless Tower, AAJ 1989; Trango Extremes, Mountain 1989. May/June, No 127]

In this way the climber faces his second deadly threat. The first is naturally the risk of killing the. Second is immersed in the deceitfulness of mental and believing that you are worth as much as the public image. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Difficult struggle in mountaineering is our rise above himself, is the voice of freedom. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Classic mountaineering grows out of a traditional romantic imagination. Its heart is the "feeling", its path is "blood, sweat and tears", and its restriction is God. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

I just have a dream mountain under the eyelids, this is my breath, my life. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Naturally, the top does not automatically make us better. Like the samurai frequented ordinary cutthroat, so sometimes extreme mountaineer can be self-centered, mythomaniac or crook to each yourself and the environment. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Naturally, the mountains does not automatically make us better. Like the samurai frequented ordinary cutthroat, so sometimes extreme mountaineer self-centered, mythomaniac or crook to each other and the environment. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

For me, the ascent to the peak of the normal ways that torment and anguish. Inspired by the idea of ​​transition was always something that at the moment transcends imagination, seemingly absolutely insurmountable, so absurd in terms of the Himalayan conditions that up beautiful. Voytek Kurtyka (Wojciech Kurtyka)

Quotes of famous climbers

Last modified onSaturday, 07 November 2015 13:37
Damian Granowski

Climbing trainer in Cracow. enthusiast of rock climbing, mountaineering (summer and winter), ice climbing, dry-tooling. Editor in the polish climbing magazine GORY. Owner of webpage

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