‘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.
McDonald shines a burning and intimate light into the souls of those who push themselves to the very edge of what is humanly possible. An instant mountaineering classic.
JIMMY CHIN, CO-DIRECTOR OF FREE SOLO
Bernadette McDonald has the skill and experience to work on the largest Himalayan tapestry, the epic history, as well as pick at its individual human threads.
ANDY KIRKPATRICK, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF PSYCHOVERTICAL AND COLD WARS-- Andy Kirkpatrick
In Winter 8000, Bernadette McDonald demonstrates once more her essential contribution to mountaineering history. With vividness and keen insight, she evokes a world that few experience first-hand: the landscapes of black ice, thin air and searing cold – as well as the haunting inner realms of people drawn to the isolation of the highest peaks and the darkest months.
KATIE IVES, ALPINIST EDITOR-IN-CHIEF-- Katie Ives
Reading Bernadette’s superb book brought back memories of our attempt on the South-West Face of Everest in autumn 1972 when the wind and bitter cold overtook us. K2 is the only 8,000-metre peak still unclimbed in winter. Already the most difficult and dangerous mountain in the world, its first winter ascent remains a huge challenge for climbers of this generation and the future.
SIR CHRIS BONINGTON-- Sir Chris Bonington
There are no stories more terrifying, dramatic, and tearful than the abundant struggles, frequent tragedies, and rare successes in winter Himalayan climbing.
STEVE HOUSE, ALPINIST, AUTHOR OF BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN-- Steve House
Bernadette McDonald has done it again. She has chronicled the first winter ascents of the fourteen highest peaks on Earth by men and women who pushed the limits of mountaineering to glorious new extremes at a terrible cost. Rich in character and conflict, Winter 8000 never turns its back on the central question: Is it worth the risk?
DAVID ROBERTS, AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF MOUNTAIN OF MY FEAR-- David Roberts
Bernadette McDonald’s clear-eyed portrayal of the men and women who embark on these ferocious adventures reveals their addiction to the cruel, rarefied beauty of the high Himalaya, and how intense ambition pushes them to risk destroying their lives and shattering the hearts of those who love them.
MARIA COFFEY, AUTHOR OF WHERE THE MOUNTAIN CASTS ITS SHADOW-- Maria Coffey
With this book, Bernadette McDonald burnishes her already shining reputation as one of our great climbing historians. These accounts give us a fascinating portrayal of the few alpinists who are willing to endure winter ascents of the world’s highest mountains.
STEVE SWENSON, AUTHOR OF KARAKORAM: CLIMBING THROUGH THE KASHMIR CONFLICT-- Steve Swe
Dimensions: 240mm x 162mm x 25mm