Freedom Climbers

By (author): Bernadette McDonald
ISBN 9781926855608
Hardcover | Publication Date: October 15, 2011
Book Dimensions: 6 in x 9 in
352 Pages

About the Book

Winner! 2012 American Alpine Club Literary Prize (USA)

Winner! 2011 Munday Award, Banff Mountain Festival (CANADA)

Winner! 2011 Boardman Tasker Prize, Kendal Mountain Festival (UNITED KINGDOM)

Freedom Climbers—the most honoured book of mountaineering literature published in Canada—tells the story of a group of extraordinary Polish adventurers who emerged from under the blanket of oppression following the Second World War to become the world’s leading Himalayan climbers. Although they lived in a dreary, war-ravaged landscape, with seemingly no hope of creating a meaningful life, these curious, motivated and skilled mountaineers created their own free-market economy under the very noses of their Communist bosses and climbed their way to liberation. At a time when Polish citizens were locked behind the Iron Curtain, these intrepid explorers found a way to travel the world in search of extreme adventure—to Alaska, South America and Europe, but mostly to the highest and most inspiring mountains of the world. To this end, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Nepal became their second homes as they evolved into the toughest group of Himalayan climbers the world has ever known.

Also available in paperback.

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


“McDonald deserves special praise for bringing to light the stories of these remarkable men and women, and doin so in a manner that does honour to their memory.”
– Wade Davis, author of Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

“This important volume documents a defining chapter of Himalayan climbing history.”
– Reinhold Messner, author of The Naked Mountain

“A brilliantly crafted tale of mountain and political adventure that reveals a golden era in Himalayan climbing that was as glorious as it was tragic.”
– Sir Chris Bonington, author of Chris Bonington’s Everest

“A gripping read, bound to become a classic of mountain literature.”
– Maria Coffey, author of Explorers of the Infinite 

“Takes the reader from deep within Communist-controlled Poland and into the lonely, dramatic landscapes of the world’s most formidable mountain ranges.”
– Jim Curran, author of High Achiever: The Life and Climbs of Chris Bonington

Freedom Climbers is a very enlightening and captivating look at the Polish climbing superstars.”
– Ed Viesturs, author of No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

“Painstakingly researched and well crafted, this remarkable book acknowledges the significance of Polish mountaineers during the golden age of Himalayan exploration. Fascinating.”
– Andy Cave, author of Thin White Line

“Bernadette McDonald has crafted a real-life page-turner about dangerous heroics and obsessive derring-do. This work is built to last.”
– Ken McGoogan, author of Race to the Polar Sea

“Page-turning and heart-wrenching tales from the golden age of Polish mountaineering in the Himalayas.”
– Pat Morrow, author of Searching for Tao Canyon and Beyond Everest

“McDonald climbs right up into the ranks of the best mountain chroniclers…a story finally told, and told very, very well.”
– Geoff Powter, author of Inner Ranges and Strange and Dangerous Dreams