Groundbreaking Mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner Comes to UCSB

Posted on May 15 by SEASONS Magazine

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner on summit of Nutpse, 2012_CR David Goettler

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner on summit of Nutpse, 2012 by David Goettler, courtesy UCSB Arts & Lectures

UCSB Arts & Lectures added famed Austrian mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner to the the National Geographic Live series. Kaltenbrunner, the first woman to summit the world’s entire 8,000-meter peak series without using supplementary oxygen, will give an adventure-packed multimedia presentation titled “Passion 8000: Dream of a Lifetime.” Her talk will be followed by a Q&A with the audience, as well as a book signing with copies of her book available for purchase.

At a young age, Kaltenbrunner was introduced to climbing in the mountains surrounding her hometown of Spital am Pyhrn in Austria. The town’s youth leader, Reverend Erich Tischler, would take the youngster after church to climb up the nearby crags. By the age of 13, Kaltenbrunner had already ventured up her first major peak, “Sturzhahn,” a 2,028-meter climb. She continued to pounce on every chance to go on ski, ice and climbing tours while completing her nursing training, and she used her subsequent profession to fund a variety of trekking and climbing expeditions in the Himalaya. At age 23, Kaltenbrunner bagged her first 8,000-meter peak, the fore-summit of Pakistan’s 8,027-meter Broad Peak. After summiting her fifth 8,000-meter mountain, the Nanga Parbat, in 2003, she abandoned her medical career for good to become a full-time climber.

In 2010, however, tragedy struck on the monstrous K2, the world’s second tallest peak. An accident resulted in the death of Kaltenbrunner’s climbing partner Fredrik Ericsson, and she aborted that attempt on K2—already her fifth try. But she courageously returned to the world’s deadliest peak the next year to successfully reach the summit. Kaltenbrunner’s triumph on K2 made her the first woman to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter-plus peaks without using supplemental oxygen or high-altitude porters, and earned her a permanent spot in mountaineering history. She was subsequently named National Geographic’s “Explorer of the Year” in 2012 for her feats.

You can meet this amazing adventurer as she tells her dramatic tale of breaking trail in the male domain of high-altitude mountaineering, accompanied by breathtaking photos and video from the roof of the world. The event takes place on Tuesday, May 19 at 8 p.m. in UCSB’s Campbell Hall. For tickets or more information, please call Arts & Lectures at 805/893-3535 or visit

—Ali Van Houten


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