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Freedom Climbers

WINNER Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature

Paperback (256pp)
  • Paperback £12.99
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WINNER - 2011 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature

GRAND PRIZE WINNER - Banff Mountain Book Festival 2011

'One of the most important mountaineering books to be written for many years.'
Boardman Tasker Prize

'Painstakingly researched and well crafted, this remarkable book acknowledges the significance of Polish mountaineers during the golden age of Himalayan exploration. Fascinating.'
Andy Cave

Freedom Climbers tells the story of the extraordinary Polish adventurers who emerged from under the blanket of oppression following the Second World War to become the world’s leading Himalayan climbers. Although they lived in a war-ravaged landscape, with seemingly no hope of creating a meaningful life, these curious, motivated and skilled mountaineers built their own free-market economy under the very noses of their Communist bosses and climbed their way to liberation.

At a time when Polish citizens were locked behind the Iron Curtain, these intrepid explorers found a way to travel the world in search of extreme adventure – to Alaska, South America and Europe, but mostly to the highest and most inspiring mountains of the world. To this end, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal became their second homes as they evolved into the toughest Himalayan climbers the world has ever known.

In her most engaging book to date, renowned and award-winning author Bernadette McDonald weaves a passionate and literary tale of adventure, politics, suffering, death and – ultimately – inspiration.

Also available as an ebook:

Bernadette McDonald is the founding vice president of Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre in Canada and author of seven books on international mountaineering, including: Tomaž Humar (Random House UK, 2008); Brotherhood of the Rope: The Biography of Charles Houston (The Mountaineers Books, 2007) and I’ll Call You in Kathmandu: The Elizabeth Hawley Story (The Mountaineers Books, 2005). In addition to the prizes presented to Freedom Climbers, McDonald is the winner of numerous awards, including Italy’s ITAS Prize for mountain writing (2010) and is a two-time winner of India’s Kekoo Naoroji Award for Mountain Literature (2009 and 2008). She has also received the Alberta Order of Excellence (2010), the Summit of Excellence Award from The Banff Centre (2007), the King Albert Award for international leadership in the field of mountain culture and environment (2006), and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002).

  • Title: Freedom Climbers
  • Sub-title:
  • Author: Bernadette Macdonald
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-906148-44-7
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: 20 February 2012
  • Edition: First
  • Size: 234mm x 156mm
  • Extent: 256 pages, black and white text with colour plates
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Weight: 455g
  • Retail price: £12.99

Also available as an ebook:

  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 978-1-906148-45-4
  • Publication date: 20 February 2012
  • Price: £12.99

'One of the most important mountaineering books to be written for many years.'
Boardman Tasker Prize 2011

'Committed climbers everywhere have much to learn from this bold, tragic, ultimately magnificent story.'
Banff Mountain Book Festival

'Freedom Climbers is a deeply moving, engrossing and sensitive portrait of this elite bunch of Polish Himalayan alpinists ... a story both bold and tragic, and McDonald tells it quite magnificently.'
Adrian Hendroff, Irish Mountain Log

'Read it for yourself and be inspired, be very inspired.'
Simon Yates, Climber Magazine

'This is certainly McDonald's best book ... She deserves great credit – and I have to admit to envy here – for bringing this subject to a wider public ... By focusing on the stars, and going light on Polish history, she has produced a story that hurtles along and is full of human interest. If you have no knowledge of what the Poles achieved, and in what circumstances, then you're in for a treat.'
Ed Douglas,

' "Triumph and tragedy" ... that hoary old mountaineering cliche, never more appropriate. Bernadette McDonald succeeds in bringing together all the elements of what is an epic tale and presenting them in a manner which is fascinating, illuminating and coherent. A fine achievement.'
John Appleby, Footless Crow

'Freedom Climbers gives some much-needed attention to several of the under-recognized superstars of high-altitude climbing. I highly recommend this book. Happy reading.'
Everest Book Report

'An unflinching examination of the psychology of risk, the extent to which one’s personality is shaped by one’s time and place, the connection between nature and spirituality, and the danger of egotism. McDonald asks big questions and does not succumb to easy answers. She shows the lengths to which these climbers went to imbue their lives with meaning, and then asks: was it worth it?'
Angie Abdou,

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