Wojciech Dudkiewicz

Ice Warriors - it was how Polish Himalayan climbers were called with admiration by the mountaineering world in the 80s. They were ice warriors, were the first and the only ones in winter - to reach to highest peaks of the Earth. Artur Hajzer, an inhabitant of Mikołów, was one of them, and also one of the youngest ones. He was going to have a great career - if something like that is possible in the Himalayas and Karakorum. The older Himalayan climber is, the better he is, and Hajzer reached his first eight-thousand-meter high peak (Manaslu, 1986) when he was 24. And when he was 25, he climbed Annapurna mount. It was the first winter climb on this mountain. In Himalayan climbing, in which stoppers are not used, it was the world record. He climbed both peaks with Jerzy Kulesza, a frequent climbing partner. Let's add that neither of them is alive. Kukuczka, a legendary Himalayan climber, died in October 1989 on the unconquered south wall Lhotse (which they had attacked together three times). Hajzer has been taken away by the eight-thousand-meter Gasherbrum I in the Karakorum mountains recently. When Kukuczka was dying, Hajzer was experiencing mountaineering trauma. He got it a few months earlier at Mount Everest. He was the main organizer of a rescue action after an avalanche at the highest peak of the Earth. After a brave action - nearly miraculously - the thing was often described in this style - Hajzer and two New Zealand climbers reached to a surviving Polish climber and brought him back from the border of death. It was another world record beaten by Artur Hazjer. Only one of six prominent Polish Himalayan climbers survived. Himalayan climbers know very well that the border of death is not a metaphor in the highest mountains, but a realistic life danger above 7600-7800-8000m, and a lot depends on the weather, temperature and first of all, on one's features and abilities. Being there longer leads to death. Artur Hajzer often was above this border. But he experienced a real danger in the Tatra mountains, at Czerwone Wierchy, when - during a winter training - he was taken and covered by an avalanche. He survived - again - miraculously. After the events 1989, he returned to climbing after…16 years. Before that he went into business. He and his colleagues - Himalayan climbers - created Alpinus - a leading Polish company in the 90s, producing sport equipment. Later - one of his colleagues (certainly Himalayan climbers) -with HiMountains company, from the same branch. This company has made many mountaineering expeditions recently. The expeditions have been organized for three years within the project Polish Winter Himalayan Climbing, which was the idea of Hajzer who himself participated in it. Since the year 2010 Polish expeditions within the project have achieved a few eight-thousand-meter peaks (Hajzer stood on two of them). Two mounts - Gasherbrum I and Broad Peak - Poles - as the first achieved them in winter. There were only two more to achieve: K2 and Nanga Parbat, attacked many times in winter, but without any effect. In the end of the year, a Polish expedition was going to set off to Ninga Parbat, and next year - to K2. Poles - as the conquerors of the last two eight-thousand-meter mounts unconquered in winter - it was a dream of Artur Hajzer. A realistic dream, because what he was going to do, often fulfilled. If Poles are successful, he will not see it (especially that the whole project PHZ is under a question mark). On 7 July in the Karakorum mountains, just after his 51th birthday, during the pristine traverse of the eight-thousand-meter mounts Gasherbrum I and II, Artur Hajzer died, an Ice Warrior. His grave is in the Karakorum mountains, and a commemorative plaque will be hung in the Tatra Mountains, on the Slovakian side, on a symbolic graveyard near Osterwa.


"Niedziela" 29/2013

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