Art of Freedom

The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka

By (author): Bernadette McDonald
ISBN 9781771602129
Hardcover | Publication Date: September 8, 2017
Book Dimensions: 6 in x 9 in
328 Pages

About the Book

Winner of the 2017 Banff Mountain Book Award for Mountain Literature (Non Fiction). </ br>Winner of the 2017 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. </ br> Winner of the National Outdoor Book Awards.

A profound and moving biography of one of the international climbing world’s most respected, complicated and reclusive mountaineers.

Voytek Kurtyka remains one of the greatest alpinists of all time. Born in 1947, he was one of the leading lights of the Polish golden age of Himalayan climbing. His visionary approach to climbing resulted in many renowned ascents, such as the complete Broad Peak traverse, the “night naked” speed climbs of Cho Oyu and Shishapangma and, above all, the alpine-style ascent of the West Face of Gasherbrum IV. Dubbed the “climb of the century,” his route on G IV, as of 2016, has yet to be repeated. His most frequent climbing partners were alpine legends of their time: Polish Himalayan climber Jerzy Kukuczka, Swiss mountain guide Erhard Loretan and British alpinist Alex MacIntyre.

After repeated requests to accept the Piolet d’Or lifetime achievement award (the Academy Award of the climbing world), Kurtyka finally accepted the honour in the spring of 2016. A fiercely private individual, he continues to decline countless invitations for interviews, lectures and festival appearances, but has agreed to co-operate with internationally renowned and award winning Canadian author Bernadette McDonald on this long-awaited biography.

Certain to be a major event in the climbing world, Art of Freedom will appeal to all readers who dream of mountain landscapes and those who long to touch the sky.

About the Author(s)

Bernadette McDonald is the author of ten books on mountaineering and mountain culture, including Alpine Warriors (RMB 2015), Keeper of the Mountains (RMB 2012) and Freedom Climbers (RMB 2011). She has received numerous mountain writing awards, including Italy’s ITAS Prize (2010), and is a two-time winner of India’s Kekoo Naoroji Award for mountain literature (2008 and 2009). In 2011, Bernadette’s first book with RMB, Freedom Climbers, won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival (Canada), the Boardman Tasker Prize (UK) and the American Alpine Club’s H. Adams Carter Literary Award. Bernadette splits her time between Banff, Alberta, and Naramata, British Columbia


Art of Freedom is a brilliant work of insight, not only into the life of the great alpinist, but also at the questions that compel us to the mountains in the first place; a work of art that will provoke and inform discussions on the potential transformative power of climbing for decades to come.”
– Alpinist

“In Art of Freedom, Bernadette McDonald succeeds in getting inside the complex character of Voytek Kurtyka in a book that slowly takes hold of the reader and makes it hard to put down.”
– Cloudburst

“Bernadette Mcdonald’s book takes us into the soul of a spiritual climber who sees in mountaineering a manifestation of nature in its purest form, a creative drive he calls ‘Crea’. Art of Freedom is a brilliant portrait of one of the cleanest climbers of our time.”
– Nepali Times

“When you settle in to read a biography about a man’s lifetime pursuit with his own personal art form, it’s a bonus when the author possesses the skill and talent to create her own work of art. That is exactly what Bernadette McDonald has accomplished with…Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka.”
– Aspects: The ACC Blog

“…McDonald unearths and reveals much about Kurtyka’s subtle and nuanced inner journey as well as rich details of his demanding and challenging climbs on a variety of terrain.”
– BC Booklook

“Rendered with both élan and consummate understanding, no one seems better equipped to write a biography of the world’s most reclusive but remarkable climber, a fact even the fiercely furtive, famously cerebral, notoriously interview-shy Kurtyka accepted in entrusting her to lay bare his life.”
– Pique Newsmagazine

“Bernadette McDonald has crafted a masterpiece in this biography of the dazzling and enigmatic genius of alpinism that is Voytek Kurtyka.”
– David Roberts, award-winning mountaineering author

“Voytek Kurtyka is a legend… Here, for the first time, we have full access to his travails and his musings. An absolute gem of a book”
-Steve House, alpinist, author of Beyond the Mountain

“It’s no exaggeration for me to say that Bernadette McDonald’s Art of Freedom is among the most eagerly anticipated mountaineering books of the decade – a work by one of the most respected writers in the genre about one of climbing’s greatest legends.”
– Katie Ives, Editor-in-Chief, Alpinist

“Regardless of your background, from the armchair to the alpine suffer artist, there is something that will resonate with being human, living by your ideals and enjoying life in its purest form.”
-Conrad Anker