back to top

    Krystyna Palmowska: Trailblazing Climber and the First Woman on Broad Peak

    Krystyna Palmowska etched her name in history on June 30, 1983, by becoming the first woman to summit Broad Peak, one of the most challenging peaks in the Karakoram range.

    This historic ascent achieved exactly 41 years ago, was executed in Alpine style during a two-person expedition with fellow climber Anna Czerwińska. Palmowska’s success is a testament to the enduring legacy of Polish female mountaineers, who have accomplished extraordinary feats in the high-altitude climbing world. Many of Palmowska’s significant achievements were alongside renowned climbers such as Wanda Rutkiewicz, Anna Czerwińska, and Halina Krüger-Syrokomska.

    While both Palmowska and Czerwińska undertook the climb, only Palmowska reached the main summit of Broad Peak. Czerwińska ascended to the Rocky Summit, mistakenly believing it was the highest point, and began her descent. Palmowska, aware of previous such errors, continued her climb along the ridge to the true summit, achieving the historic milestone solo.

    Palmowska’s illustrious climbing career includes notable summits such as Nanga Parbat (8,125 meters) in July 1985, where she, along with Wanda Rutkiewicz and Anna Czerwińska, conquered the peak via the 1962 German Diamir Face route. On July 5, 1979, Palmowska became the first woman to summit Rakaposhi (7,788 meters) via a new route. She also made multiple attempts on K2, reaching heights of 7,000 meters in 1982, 7,350 meters in 1984, and approximately 8,200 meters via the new Magic Line route in 1986, alongside Anna Czerwińska and Janusz Majer.

    Born on November 11, 1948, in Warsaw, Krystyna Palmowska’s contributions to mountaineering extend beyond her own summits, inspiring generations of climbers.

    Broad Peak, standing at 8,051 meters (26,414 feet) on the border of Pakistan and China, is the twelfth-highest mountain in the world. Its first ascent was made in June 1957 by an Austrian expedition team consisting of Fritz Wintersteller, Marcus Schmuck, Kurt Diemberger, and Hermann Buhl. Krystyna Palmowska's groundbreaking ascent in 1983 marked the first time a woman had conquered this formidable peak, cementing her legacy in the annals of mountaineering history.

    More in section