‘He appeared, without a word, in the tent’s entrance, covered in ice. He looked like anyone would after spending over twenty-four hours in a hurricane at over 8,000 metres. In winter. In the Karakoram. He was so exhausted he couldn’t speak.’
Of all the games mountaineers play on the world’s high mountains, the hardest – and cruellest – is climbing the fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres in the bitter cold of winter. Ferocious winds that can pick you up and throw you down, freezing temperatures that burn your lungs and numb your bones, weeks of psychological torment in dark isolation: these are adventures for those with an iron will and a ruthless determination.
For the first time, award-winning author Bernadette McDonald tells the story of how Poland’s ice warriors made winter their own, perfecting what they dubbed ‘the art of suffering’ as they fought their way to the summit of Everest in the winter of 1980 – the first 8,000-metre peak they climbed this way but by no means their last. She reveals what it was that inspired the Poles to take up this brutal game, how increasing numbers of climbers from other nations were inspired to enter the arena, and how competition intensified as each remaining peak finally submitted to leave just one awaiting a winter ascent, the meanest of them all: K2.
Winter 8000 is the story of true adventure at its most demanding.