WINNER: Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2017
In Art of Freedom, Bernadette McDonald pulls no punches in sharing her insights into Voytek Kurtyka’s complicated relationships with partners, the law, climbing goals, risk and lifestyle, resulting in a picture of a truly remarkable man and one of the greatest alpinists of all time.
Voytek Kurtyka is one of the greatest alpinists of all time. Born in 1947, he was one of the leading lights of the Polish golden age of mountaineering that redefined Himalayan climbing in the 1970s and 1980s.
His visionary approach to climbing resulted in many renowned ascents, such as the complete Broad Peak traverse, the ‘night-naked’ speed climbs of Cho Oyu and Shishapangma and, above all, the alpine-style first ascent of the west face of Gasherbrum IV. Dubbed the ‘climb of the century’, his route on GIV with the Austrian Robert Schauer is – as of 2017 – unrepeated. His most frequent climbing partners were alpine legends of their time: Polish Himalayan giant Jerzy Kukuczka, Swiss mountain guide Erhard Loretan and British alpinist Alex MacIntyre.
After repeated requests to accept the Piolets d’Or lifetime achievement award (the Oscars of the climbing world), Kurtyka finally accepted the honour in the spring of 2016. A fiercely private individual, he has declined countless invitations for interviews, lectures and festival appearances, but he has agreed to collaborate with internationally renowned and award-winning author Bernadette McDonald on this long-awaited biography.
Art of Freedom is a profound and moving profile of one of the international climbing world’s most respected, complex and reclusive mountaineers.
Bernadette McDonald is the author of eleven books on mountaineering and mountain culture, including Art of Freedom (2017), Freedom Climbers (2011), Alpine Warriors (2015), Keeper of the Mountains (2012), Tomaž Humar (2008) and Brotherhood of the Rope (2007). McDonald has won numerous awards, including her second Boardman Tasker Prize and the Banff Award for Mountain Literature for Art of Freedom in 2017. She won her first Boardman Tasker Prize and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Grand Prize for Freedom Climbers in 2011. She has also won Italy’s ITAS Prize for mountain writing (2010) and is a three-time winner of India’s Kekoo Naoroji Award for Mountain Literature. In 2012 the American Alpine Club awarded her their highest literary honour for excellence in mountain literature. She was the founding Vice President of Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre and director of the Banff Mountain Festivals for twenty years. She has also received the Alberta Order of Excellence (2009), 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). Bernadette has degrees in English Literature and Music, with specialisation in performance and analytical theory. When not writing, she climbs, hikes, skis, paddles and grows grapes.
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