On that day in 1978, the Plungė, Lithuania native reached the top of Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain above sea level.
In addition to being the third woman to ever do so (after Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei and Tibetan climber Phanthog, both in 1975), Rutkiewicz was the first Pole to do so.
Eight years later, she became the first woman to scale K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, which is widely considered to be the deadliest peak in existence.
Throughout her climbing career, Rutkiewicz scaled eight of the world’s 14 eight-thousanders, ie mountains that are more than 8,000 metres high above sea level.
According to The New York Times, Rutkiewicz was exposed to hostility on the part of her male teammates, with one of them doubting publicly that she had reached the top of Annapurna, one of the eight-thousanders – until video footage proved otherwise,
Rutkiewicz is believed to have died aged 49, while attempting to climb Kangchenjunga, an eight-thousander and the third highest peak in the world.
Her body has never been found or identified with certainty.
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