Janusz Majer Succeeds Artur Hajzer as Polish Winter Mountaineering Head

"Life abhors a vacuum. Two peaks are still to be conquered in winter. So, as Artur Hajzer continued the idea of ​​Andrzej Zawada, surely there will be someone who decides to pursue the idea of ​​Arthur Hajzer" said Janusz Majer, a friend of Hajzer since 1980s, after latter died on GI, this July. Now the veteran mountaineer has himself undertaken the responsibility of continuing the job and heading the Polish Winter Himalaism 2010-15 Project. The decision was made public during 11th Krakow Mountain Festival (KFG), held on December 6th - 8th.

Artur Hajzer i Janusz Majer
Artur Hajzer and Janusz Majer; Photo: Krzanowski ROBERT

Following the demise of Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski on Broad Peak last winter and Artur Hajzer’s death on GI in July, there were some concerns about the future of Polish winter climbing project. Controversial circumstances of Maciej and Tomasz’s death have been widely discussed and also officially investigated by a committee set by Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA). Artur Hajzer was the originator and the head of the project since it’s initiation in 2009. The project receives funding from Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA) and Poland’s Ministry of Sports and Tourism.

Janusz Majer, who has been a longtime friend and business partner of late Artur Hajzer, says “I do not want, what Artur Hajzer was doing, to be vanished. That's why I agreed to be the head of the Polish Winter Himalaism. I would, however, make the project work a little differently.

Born in 1946, Majer has been active in mountaineering since 1970s. Late summer expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1977 was his first trip to an 8000m peak. In 1984, he reached the summit of his only eight-thousander, Broad Peak, together with Walenty Fiut and Ryszard Pawlowski. The expedition is well known for 15.5 hour ascent of the mountain by Krzysztof Wielicki.

Janusz Majer has also been the leader of many prominent Polish expeditions, like Lhotse South Face attempt in 1985 and K2 Magic Line in 1986. In 1988, he was part of Annapurna South Face expedition of which Kukuczka and Hajzer summited Annapurna East summit via new route. Majer had to turn back 100m short of summit because of strong winds.

At Shishapangma, 1987: Richard Warecki, Janusz Majer, Jerzy Kukuczka, Artur Hajzer (photo courtesy of Janusz Majer)
From left: Ryszard Warecki, Janusz Majer, Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer (during Shishapangma expedition 1987)

Together with Artur Hajzer, Majer founded outdoor company Alpinus in 1990, whereas HiMountain brand of outdoor clothing and gear was their latest endeavor.

When Polish Winter Himalaism 2010-15 was launched at the end of 2009, all nine 8000m peaks in Himalaya proper were already climbed (seven by Poles, Shishapangma by Simone Moro with Polish partner Piotr Morawski and Makalu by Simone and Denis Urubko). The objective of the program was to achieve the first winter ascent of remaining five 8000m peaks.

Thus far, Polish Winter Himalaism has been successful on two occasions, GI in 2012 and Broad Peak in 2013, while GII has been scaled by Denis Urubko, Simone Moro and Cory Richards in 2011. Nanga Parbat and K2 are only eight-thousanders yet to be climbed in winter.

Currently, a Polish team (not belonging to Polish Winter Himalaism Project) is in Pakistan to attempt Nanga Parbat. They will be sharing the route with Simone Moro and David Goettler.

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