Lhotse 1974

"The initiative to climb eight-thousanders in winter will go down in the history of mountaineering. And everyone will know that Poles were the first to do it."

The expedition's aim

While organising late autumn expedition on Lhotse, Andrzej Zawada had quite a few ideas for it. Polish ascent was meant to be the second in history, and Zawada wanted it to be ambitious - climbing Lhotse Shar (8426 m) through virgin Lhotse Middle (8410 m). He also wanted Anna Okopińska to reach the summit and this way break the women's altitude record. Finally, he was delaying the expedition, because he dreamt about ascending during winter and initiating winter climbing on eight-thousanders. The last idea, also daredevil and extremely corageous, was to try and summit Everest in winter. While in Kathmandu, Zawada tried to gain permit for the winter ascent, but he was unable to persuade the Nepalese.


Official name of the expedition:
Polish Himalaya Expedition Lhotse 1974

Expedition's status: national expedition

Route: west wall,
the first summiters' route

Members: 17

Base established: 21 October 1974

Summit reached: 25 December 1974 A. Zawada and Z. Heinrich turn back 250 m away from the summit.

Members of the expedition


Andrzej Zawada – leader (46 yrs., Warsaw Mountaineering Club (Klub Wysokogórski; KW))

Anna Okopińska (26 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Andrzej Zygmunt Heinrich (37 yrs., KW Cracow)

Bogdan Jankowski (36 yrs., KW Wrocław)

Piotr Jasiński (KW Cracow)

Jan Koisar - doctor (37 yrs., KW Gliwice)

Marek Kowalczyk (KW Cracow)

Wojciech Kurtyka (27 yrs., KW Cracow)

Jerzy Michalski (43 yrs., KW Łódź)

Kazimierz Jacek Rusiecki (34 yrs. KW Warsaw)

Jan Stryczyński (43 yrs., KW Poznań)

Ryszard Szafirski - doctor (37 yrs., KW Zakopane)

Filming, photos

Jerzy Surdel (39 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Stanisław Latałło (29 yrs.)

Wojciech Tędziagolski (32 yrs., KW Warsaw)

Mirosław Wiśniewski - photographer, Jelcz driver (38 yrs.)

The expedition's timeline


September 1

September 11

October 3

October 6-14

October 15-21

October 23-27

October 27

November 1

November 4

November 7

November 14

November 17

November 21-24

November 29 -
December 4

December 7

December 11 - J. Rusiecki, W. Kurtyka and J. Stryczyński after a night with oxygen set up CIV (7800 m).

December 11

December 12

December 15

December 17

December 18

December 22

December 24

December 25 - A. Zawada and A. Heinrich start their summit attack at 11 am, at 2:30 pm the are at 8250 m, but turn back because of worsening weather.

December 25

Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejects A. Zawada's request to extend the expedition till the end of January 1975.

December 29

December 30

December 31 -
January 1, 1975

January 17

The expedition's result

During the late autumn expedition on Lhotse, for the first time climbers breached the 8 thousand meters barrier in winter. Andrzej Zawada, together with Zyga Heinrich reached 8250 m and broke his own and world's record for highest altitude in winter mountaineering - it was his most important climb. The expedition experienced climbing in winter conditions, which prepared them for their success on Everest (1979/1980). During the expedition, a movie and mini-series were filmed and dedicated to late Stanisław Latałło.