DESCRIBED as “the pretty brunette who looked like a Hollywood starlet”, Wanda Rutkiewicz was so tough that she spent a week hiking to K2’s base camp on crutches.
The famous mountaineer was an author, and strong advocate for women’s climbing – organising several all-female expeditions.
Who was Wanda Rutkiewicz?
Wanda Rutkiewicz was the first Pole – male or female – to ascend the world’s highest peak on October 16, 1978.
After reaching the summit of Mount Everest, she also became the third woman to get to the top.
She later wrote: “I adored the physical movement, the fresh air, the camaraderie, and the excitement.”
Rutkiewicz would go on to complete seven more 8,000-metre-plus climbs.
By doing so, she established herself as one of the most celebrated climbers in mountaineering history and one of the greatest female climbers of all time.
Born on February 4, 1943 to a Polish family in the village of Plungian – now part of Lithuania – Wanda studied electrical engineering at Wroclaw University of Technology.
Google says that she discovered her passion for climbing by chance after her motorcycle ran out of fuel in 1961. One of the people who stopped to help invited her to join him on a climb of the Falcon Mountains.
Ten years after reaching the peak of Mount Everest, Rutkiewicz became the first woman to climb K2 – the world’s second-highest peak – doing so without using supplemental oxygen.
Two of her fellow climbers perished on the descent from K2, but she determinedly continued pursuing her dreams.
Rutkiewicz published books and produced documentaries about her climbs.
But, despite her many accomplishments, she found some male climbers to be condescending.
She went on to advocate for women’s climbing and to organise several all-female expeditions.
In 1990, Rutkiewicz declared her goal of climbing eight 8,000-metre-plus (26,247-ft-plus) peaks in just over a year’s time, a programme she called the “Caravan of Dreams.”
Although she did not complete that particular mission, Wanda Rutkiewicz has continued to inspire generations of climbers to follow in her footsteps.
She died on Kanchenjunga – the world’s third highest mountain – six years after climbing K2. Elżbieta Sieradzińska, who wrote a book on the climber, said: “She only had that mountain in her eyes”.
What is a Google Doodle?
In 1998, the search engine founders Larry and Sergey drew a stick figure behind the second ‘o’ of Google as a message to that they were out of office at the Burning Man festival and with that, Google Doodles were born.
The company decided that they should decorate the logo to mark cultural moments and it soon became clear that users really enjoyed the change to the Google homepage.
Now, there is a full team of doodlers, illustrators, graphic designers, animators and classically trained artists who help create what you see on those days.
Google kicked off 2019 with an animated Doodle of New Year’s Eve celebrations.