ExWeb interview with Artur Hajzer, final: "Simone and Denis should join our team"

ExWeb interview with Artur Hajzer, final: "Simone and Denis should join our team"

Posted: Dec 09, 2008 07:36 pm EST

(MountEverest.net/K2Climb.net) They made their own climbing gear from junkyard scraps and became the world's hardest climbers. The Polish were underdogs in the climbing cold war of the 80s, and it made them tough.

Fast forward two decades: Artur is returning to winter climbing with high altitude porters, proper down gear and climbing boots, not to mention GPS and sat-comms.

Meanwhile this week - following rising tensions with equally nuclear-armed India - Pakistan has raided a Kashmir based Islamic militant camp linked to last month's mass killings in Mumbai. Hajzer's main concern right now: lasering his way to the foot of the Karakoram through bitter cold and political unrest.

"I hope we reach BC - thats difficult and unclear enough for the moment," Artur told ExplorersWeb. Today the final part of the interview:

ExplorersWeb: Any message for Simone, with regards to his recent winter attempts on Broad?

Artur: I think that Simone and Denis should join our team on BP - it would increase the chances for winter success :-).

The political situation in the region (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India) is highly unstable - it may still happen that we are refused to enter the country, or that reaching BC turns out impossible. In that case, I might turn to plan "B" and ask Simone to join him and Denis on Makalu :-).

In fact, I am concerned about leading such a small team on winter Broad Peak. Therefore, I am most aware of Simones merit: He was alone there with just one Pakistani climber in 2007 and only two local mates in 2008!

ExplorersWeb: How have you guys prepared for the upcoming expedition?

Artur: I'm getting old so Ive spent some time training and visiting doctors at the Katowice Sport Academy - recently named Jerzy Kukuczka's. I got professional training by Dr. Zbigniew Borek, who designed a special program focused on winter Himalayan climbing a tough workout, indeed. I improved my VO2max some, but I'm not yet satisfied with my 64 reading.

Don has been training hard as well, I heard. Robert is always in good shape he just finished Gdansk Marathon in acceptable time. I too finished that race, but my time showed that I'm not a runner :-)

Since we started preparations very early, we are also happy about the logistics. We have plenty of good gear, food etc.

ExplorersWeb: Will you be in touch with the Polish team on Nanga?

Artur: Why not?

ExplorersWeb: How was it to bag Dhaula with Robert this spring?

Artur: When you are alone on the mountain, as we were, there is no easy way on an 8000er, not even the normal route. While more than 20 people summited on May 1st, the crowd left soon after and we found ourselves virtually alone.

On our summit attempt a few climbers set off from BC with us, but they all stopped at C1 or C2. Deep, fresh snow implored us to turn back; we were worried and felt very uncomfortable through the entire push.

Eventually, we followed a different route in a desperate effort to reduce the risk of avalanche. Luck made everything turn out well - but we probably took too many risks.

ExplorersWeb: Rob and Don where part of the rescue for Iñaki and you helped to organize it. The rescue attempt showed that climbers still do help each other on the peaks. Don for instance also helped you down on BP - any comments regarding comradeship these days?

Artur: I think that the situation is not that bad.

ExplorersWeb: Any comments on the recent K2 disaster btw?

Artur. No comments.

ExplorersWeb: What are your planned route, style and dates?

Artur: Being such a small team, we plan to fix as much rope as possible (4,5mm Dynema). We will climb the normal route, and hope to start within calendar winter. However, we may be not very orthodox about the dates, since preparations and acclimatization may be performed before December 21st.

In my opinion, a first is a first. Hillary and Tenzing will always be regarded as the first Everest summiteers, in spite of having used O2 (in that sense, the Messner/Habeler no O2 climb was done in much better style, but still was not the first).

In the same way, the Czechs currently going for Manaslu may achieve a real winter ascent. But the first winter summiteers, in my opinion at least, were the Polish who summited early January.

Artur Hajzer has five main 8000er summits to his name, several via new routes (Manaslu's NE face in 1986, Shisha's east ridge in 1987) and the first winter climb of Annapurna on Feb. 3, 1987. Plus, he also summited Annapurna East (8010m) via a new route up the SE face in 1988. All these climbs were done together with Kukuczka, without O2 or Sherpa support. Artur also attempted Lhotse South Face thee times reaching 8200 m in 1985, 8300 m in 1987 and 7200 m (alpine style) in 1989. He is also known as organizer of a "thunderbolt" rescue operation on Everest's West Ridge for Andrzej Marciniak in 1989.

Krzysztof Wielicki led the 5th Polish attempt on winter Nanga Parbat in 2007. The team members added up an amazing number of veterans - only rookies were Przemyslaw Lozinski and the team doctor Robert Szymczak - now joining Artur on BP.

Polish climbers have all the first winter ascents on Himalayan 8000ers, most achieved in the eighties. All their ascents took place in January and February - except for Lhotse on December 31, 1988 by Krzysztof Wielicki.

17 years went by before a new first winter ascent was a fact: On January 14, 2005, Polish Piotr Morawski and Italian Simone Moro summited Shisha Pangma. Expedition leader was Jan Szulc (member of the 2007 Nanga Parbat winter expedition).




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Nanga Parbat 2006/2007. Cold.
Image by Artur Hajzer
Image of Robert Szymczak courtesy of HiMountain.eu (click to enlarge).
Image of Don Bowie courtesy of his website (click to enlarge).
"I think that Simone and Denis should join our team on BP - it would increase the chances for winter success :-)" says Artur. Simone (left) will attempt Makalu (image) with old time friend Denis Urubko (right).