Great stories often start small. The first one with Andrzej Zawada, leader of high-mountains expeditions, convincing Mirek Wiśniewski – a photographer, doctor, mountaineer and caver – to take on a role of a driver. In 1974, Wiśniewski sets off to the Himalayas. He drives for over 10,000 km sitting behind the wheel of a Jelcz truck carrying equipment for the pioneer expedition in the history of Polish winter Himalaism.
Even though they fail to reach the summit of Lhotse, Zawada’s team sets the winter height record at over 8000 metres. This paves the way for other great achievements of the Polish climbers in the Himalayas. Two years later, Wiśniewski sets off on another journey – this time on the Dalmor fishing vessel, which travels from Gdynia to the coast of Antarctica with builders of the Henryk Arctowski Polish Antarctic Station on board. Polar explorers work in harsh arctic conditions and in February 1977 set up the first Polish research station in the South Pole.
From the two journeys Wiśniewski brings home over 10,000 photos capturing the pioneer Polish expeditions. His images show their preparation and course, portraits of the Himalayan climbers and polar explorers, as well as harsh landscapes. But above all, through his perspective of an inquisitive observer and documentalist, he captures the everyday life of people who managed to get away from the grey reality of the Polish People’s Republic and fulfil their dreams.
The album contains unique and previously unpublished photos found in the vast archives of Mirek Wiśniewski.
Idea and selection of photographs: Katarzyna Bańka, Maria Wiśniewska, Sandra Włodarczyk
Editor: Małgorzata Purzyńska
Languages: Polish and English