Death is experienced everywhere equally strong, but the reaction to it in the mountains is unusual, because such are conditions. My partner dies, and I cannot fall into pieces. I cannot sit down and deliberate over it. No one will come after me, no one will help me. I must keep going, otherwise I will die as well.
"Kukuczka" - this portrait of the legendary mountaineer is more than just a book about determination and the mountains. This is a breathtaking story about the limits of risk that sometimes become the limits of humanity.
- From the logical point of view, I should not go with you because all the people around you die - a fellow climber said once Jerzy Kukuczka straight in his face. Was it merely ill fate or was he indeed responsible for the death, which almost always during his expeditions took its toll? If you cannot help a person because they fell off the wall or died of pulmonary edema, should you give up summiting, after so many months of preparation, when it is within your reach, when you can fulfil your dreams?
How was that possible that a short, silent boy from Silesia, an electrician with just vocational education became "great"? The authors, having access to numerous materials – memoir notes by Kukuczka and his books, talks with his wife Cecylia, interviews with members of expeditions Kukuczka was a member of etc. have created a fascinating portrait of a man who persistently strived to achieve his goal, a man full of contradictions and realizing that that you cannot reconcile everything and everyone in life, a man who right from his youth was marked by death lurking nearby. He was twenty-three years old when for the first time he lost in the mountains his friend, his peer. And at the age of fourty, in 1989 he fell off from the south face of Lhotse, which was perhaps the most difficult test for a climber. On that last day, he wrote in his diary two enigmatic words: Paradise - Heaven ... The body was not found, the tomb is empty ...!
I highly appreciate the authors - Dariusz Kortko and Marcin Pietraszewski - for their courage in discovering Kukuczka’s comprehensive personality. The well-known legend, crafted for the media was not enough to them. The authors tried to show the complexity of the human being. (...) This biography is written with respect and understanding, with humor and empathy. As in the case of the main character, it is a masterpiece, made in the best style.
From the introduction by Bernadette McDonald
He went to the mountains because that's where he felt a taste of freedom, because it was his passion and an endless adventure. He did not like to share his experience from the mountains, and I suspect that he took with him many secrets, which we will never know. I read this book and I see his portrait like in a dream. It brings tears to my eyes. What I have left are only beautiful memories and memory, a memory that lasts forever.
Cecylia Kukuczka, wife
For many people of my generation Kukuczka was a hero. One of the half-gods, who maniacally summited another eight-thousenders. But hardly anyone in the People’s Republic of Poland of the time guessed what price for those moments of freedom during subsequent expedition he had to pay. And his closest ones as well. This is a true story of the man who almost managed to achieved his goal...
Michał Nogaś, ,Polish Radio, Program 3
Grey communist everyday life. Poland, full of absurdities, restrictions, control and a seemingly ordinary man embedded in it. The man who had a vision, dreams and the strength to follow them. On the way to the top, literally and figuratively, he had to face adversities of the outside world... No equipment, small chances to cross the boundaries of the People’s Republic of Poland, modest financial resources. But Kukuczka chased also his own internal limitations and the more they stood in his way, the more determined he became. For all those who dream and desire to make their dreams come true, Kukuczka and this book certainly will be very inspiring reading on the way to summit the Crown of Your Own Life.
Jacek Masłowski. Coach, psychoterapeuta