Voytek Kurtyka to receive Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award
- Friday 4th March 2016
Acclaimed Polish mountaineer Wojciech 'Voytek' Kurtyka has been named as the recipient of this year's Piolet d'Or Lifetime Achievement Award.
Born in the village of Skrzynka on 20 September 1947, Voytek went on to emerge as one of the leading lights of the 'fast and light' style, as he sought to realise a purer form of alpinism. Voytek climbed alongside some of the leading names of twentieth century alpinism, including Alex MacIntyre and Jerzy Kukuczka and has a host of trailblazing ascents to his name. These include new routes on the Gasherbrums I and II (8068m; 8035m) in Pakistan, the first winter ascent of Trollveggen (Troll Wall) and a bold twenty-nine pitch line on Trango Tower.
Voytek is one of the key figures in Bernadette McDonald's multi-award-winning Freedom Climbers, which 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. Click HERE to read an extract from the book and HERE for an article written by Bernadette for Alpinist.
Throughout his climbing career, Voytek has emphasised the deep satisfaction and meaning that climbing holds for him, commenting that 'mountaineering is a complex and unique way of life, interweaving elements of sport, art and mysticism'. While asserting that he now finds more fascination in studying the plants at his feet than seeking out new lines, Voytek remains an active climber and an important figure in Poland's mountaineering community.
Appearances at events are something of a rarity for Voytek, making his presence at this year's Piolet d'Or awards in La Grave all the more of an occasion to celebrate.
Image: a page from Freedom Climbers showing Voytek Kurtyka (top right) and some of his leading contemporaries.