Broad Peak - Normal Route - 2013

Polish climbers Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski died while descending Broad Peak, having made the first winter ascent of the mountain on 5 March with Adam Bielecki and Artur Małek.

First winter ascent of Broad Peak ( 8051m )

Normal Route

Karakoram, Pakistan

5 March 2013

Climbed by Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski, Artur Małek

Other members of the expedition: Krzysztof Wielicki, Karim Hayyat, Shaheen Baig, Amin Ullah

Polish climbers Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Małek have reached the summit of Broad Peak in the Karakoram, Pakistan. But Kowalski and Berbeka have disappeared during the descent.

The four climbers reached the summit between 5pm and 6pm on 5 March and immediately began to descend. Tomasz Kowalski was descending last and reported by radio that he could see Maciej Berbeka in front of him. Bielecki reached the top camp (camp 4) at 7,400m at about 9pm and Artur Małek reached the camp at about 2am on 6th March. Berbeka and Kowalski seem to have reached the col  (7900m) at around this time  and to have stopped to bivouac there.

In a radio call to basecamp at 6.30am on 6 March Kowalski reported problems fixing a crampon that had loosened shortly after he left the summit of Broad Peak. He also said that he had seen Berbeka. This was the last radio contact with Kowalski. There has been no radio contact with Berbeka since he spoke to basecamp from the summit using Kowalski's radio.

Karim Hayyat set off up the mountain from camp 2 at dawn on 6 March and at around 1pm reached a height of about 7700m. He saw no sign of the missing climbers.

Later on 6 March the team descended towards basecamp, on the instructions of leader Krzysztof Wielicki and in anticipation of bad weather forecast for 7 March. Camp 4 was left in its place at 7,400 m. Adam Bielecki and Artur Małek are said to be fine, with no signs of frostbite. On 7 March Amin Ullah and Shaheen Baig ascended to Camp 3 at 7000m to keep watch on the upper part of the route. The following day brought a serious deterioration in the weather. Expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki issued a statement saying:

Considering all the circumstances, conditions, my experience, history of Himalayan mountaineering, knowledge regarding physiology and high-altitude medicine as well as consultations with doctors and co-organizers of the expedition in Poland, I have to declare Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski dead.

Maciej Berbeka had reached the foresummit of Broad Peak exactly 25 years earlier, on 6th March 1988. Climbing fast and alone, he believed he had reached the summit. But visibility was poor, and he subsequently realised that he had in fact only reached the foresummit, 20m lower than the main summit (American Alpine Journal 1989, p243). His ascent was the closest anyone came to the summit of a Pakistan 8000er in winter until Gasherbrum II was climbed in 2011.

  • Broad Peak
    Broad Peak from Concordia
  • Broad Peak
    Broad Peak, with route of Polish winter ascent
    Aleksander Lwow/Polski Himalaizm Zimowy archive

Broad Peak in the Ascent Book

Other climbs on Broad Peak in the Himalayan Climbs mountaineering database

Mountain Facts

Broad Peak, Pakistan

N 35° 48′ 37.818″ W 76° 34′ 7.3164″

Elevation: 8051m