Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner


Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner’s interest in mountain climbing developed at a very young age. It was Reverend Dr. Erich Tischler, a youth group leader in her hometown of Spital am Pyhrn, Upper Austria, who introduced her to the fascinating world of mountains. After church on Sunday, he would take Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner along on numerous treks in the mountains surrounding her hometown.

At the age of 13, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner ventured on her first easy climbing tours on Mount Sturzhahn, which sparked her enthusiasm for climbing and paved the way to mountaineering. In the following years, she never missed an opportunity to go climbing. Skiing, ice, and climbing tours became her main fields of interest, which she enjoyed while completing her training as a nurse in Upper Austria and Vienna. Her greatest dream – climbing an 8,000 m peak – came true at the age of 23, when she succeeded in climbing the fore summit of Broad Peak in Pakistan, with a height of 8,027 m.

Over the course of the following years, she put all the money she earned as a nurse toward various trekking and climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. After climbing Nanga Parbat – her fifth 8,000 m peak – in 2003, she decided to finally become a professional mountain climber.

Today, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner has climbed all 14 eight-thousander peaks as well as two fore summits over 8,000 m. By reaching the summit of K2 (8,611 m), the second highest peak in the world, she became the first woman to scale all 8,000 m peaks without the use of supplementary oxygen. Her passion is not just for the high mountains of the Himalayas, however. It’s the people, the culture, and the religion that brings her back again and again.