Skirball Center for the Performing Arts - New York University

Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner didn’t climb K2 because she wanted to be the world’s first woman to summit all 14 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen. But that’s exactly what she did. She grew up skiing in the mountains of her native Austria, then worked as a nurse, on weekends climbing the local alps. Her unstoppable appetite for adventure finally drove her to break a trail into the male domain of high altitude mountaineering.

Kaltenbrunner’s primary goal for her K2 climb, featured in National Geographic April 2012, was to be part of a team effort co-led with her husband Ralf Dujmovits, climbing K2 from the remote Chinese side, along the most dangerous route. Known as the mountaineer’s mountain, K2 has taken the life of roughly one climber for every four who’ve succeeded in making the summit. On this expedition, heavy snowfall just before the team’s summit attempt increased the danger of avalanches on the mountain’s steep slope. The team faced many critical decisions. Two members, including Ralf, decided to abandon the climb halfway through. Kaltenbrunner pushed on with three other climbers, and, despite the dangers, reached the summit first—making mountaineering history.

The achievement earned her recognition as one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year. Meet this astonishing mountaineer and share the dramatic story of how she prepared for and triumphed on K2, told with breathtaking photos and video from the roof of the world.

Secure your season tickets by Wed., May 27 and be automatically entered for a chance to win a National Geographic Photography Workshop in NYC!

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National Geographic Live Explorers Circle

Join the Explorers Circle and get closer to the action! For an additional $350, you receive:

  • An invitation to an exclusive reception with palentologist Nizar Ibrahim (Nov. 17)
  • A signed keepsake
  • Acknowledgement of your support on NYU Skirball's website
  • A tax-deductible contribution of $250 to help ensure the continuation of National Geographic Live at NYU Skirball
  • Additional NYU Skirball Member benefits

National Geographic Live 2015–16 Lineup

Enric Sala, Pristine Seas: OCTOBER 20 | 7:30
Nizar Ibrahim, Spinosarus: Giant of the CretaceousNovember 17 | 7:30
Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, K2: Danger and Desire on the Savage Mountain: February 23 | 7:30
Bob Poole, Gorongosa: a Cameraman's Journal: March 29 | 7:30

Photo credits: Vassiliy Pivtsov, Ralf Dujmovits