I grew up in the countryside around Łętownia, Poland. It’s an area where skiing is popular, but my family were poor, so I had very old wooden skis; I didn’t even know modern equipment existed. I couldn’t afford to ride the ski lift, so I used to hike up with the skis strapped to my back. It turned out that this was good practice.

I was first introduced to ski mountaineering (climbing mountains, then skiing down them) by my older brother, who had represented Poland in the sport. He taught me to respect the mountains. From there, I started doing bigger and bigger challenges: Shishapangma in China in 2013, Manaslu in Nepal in 2014. Eventually, people around me wondered if I would take on K2.

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