Wanda Rutkiewicz: The Fearless Polish Climber Who Conquered the World’s Highest Peaks

Saurav Singh

Wanda Rutkiewicz (4 February 1943 – 12–13 May 1992) was a trailblazing Polish mountaineer known for her exceptional climbing achievements. Her life was a remarkable journey of determination and courage in the world of high-altitude mountaineering.

Early Life

Wanda Rutkiewicz was born on February 4, 1943, in Plungiany, a village in Lithuania. She grew up in the challenging terrain of Poland, which later contributed to her love for the mountains. Although she initially studied computer science, her heart was in the Himalayas, and she embarked on a journey that would make her a legendary mountaineer.


Early Ascents

Rutkiewicz began her climbing career in the Tatra Mountains of Poland. She soon turned her attention to the Himalayas, and in 1978, she summited Nanga Parbat, becoming the first woman to conquer an 8,000-meter peak. This achievement marked the beginning of a series of impressive ascents.

Himalayan Triumphs

Over the years, Rutkiewicz tackled some of the world’s highest peaks. Her accomplishments included becoming the first woman to summit K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. She also reached the summits of Mount Everest and Gasherbrum II, among others. Her passion for mountaineering and her unrelenting determination made her a revered figure in the climbing community.

Read More: 4 February in Indian and World History 


Wanda Rutkiewicz’s legacy extends beyond her climbing achievements. She inspired a generation of female climbers and broke numerous gender barriers in mountaineering. Her relentless pursuit of her passion earned her a place in history, and her achievements paved the way for future generations of mountaineers. Her tragic disappearance on Kangchenjunga in 1992, where she was last seen near the summit, is a poignant reminder of the immense risks of high-altitude climbing. Rutkiewicz’s life and her contributions to the world of mountaineering are celebrated to this day.

On 16 October 2019, a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Wanda Rutkiewicz.

Tags: , , , , , ,