Polish Mountaineering Film Missing For 69 Years, Found!

Wow! Talk about a really cool and interesting story. Check out this article over at PolskieRadio.pl.

It seems that a mountaineering film, of a Polish expedition to Nanda Devi East that has been missing for 69 years has been recently found in the archives of the British Film Institute in London. A mountain climber and filmmaker named Anna T. Pietraszek found the film, with the help of London-based film producer Anna Naszyńska, after a long and exhausting search.

To make things even more interesting, the film is said to be in “excellent condition, and the fact that it was shot on 35mm bodes well for it’s quality.

The Polish expedition set out for Nanda Devi East back in 1939. Two of the climbers, Jakub Bujak and Janusz Klarner, actually reached the summit at 7434m, claiming the first ascent, while their two teammates, Adam Karpinski and Stefan Bernadzikiewicz, perished in an avalanche on the way up. Bernadzikiewicz was the one shooting the film, so there is not footage of the summit.

The camera and film was recovered from the avalanche after the fact. The footage is said to offer some amazing panoramic shots of the surrounding area. Considering that man mountaineers consider Nanda Devi to be amongst the most beautiful mountains in the World, the images could be quite remarkable indeed. Pietraszek and Naszyńska say they intend to make a documentary about the climb and will use some of the footage in their film.

I simply think it’s amazing that a film missing for nearly 70 years can be found like this, and in great condition no less. I have the impression that the British Film Institute’s archive is like that giant warehouse at the end of Raider’s of the Lost Ark where the U.S. Government wheeled off the Ark, never to be seen again. Do they have a huge store house of films like this one just sitting around waiting to be discovered? Is that the premise of the new Indiana Jones film? Indiana Jones and the Lost Film Reels?

Kraig Becker

11 thoughts on “Polish Mountaineering Film Missing For 69 Years, Found!”

  1. It is definitely an amazing find! Hopefully we’ll all get a chance to check out the footage for a variety of reasons. Historically it should be interesting to see and just for the great shots of such a remote region. Nanda Devi is completely closed off now, and few ever get the chance to go there.

    Glad you like that shot of the warehouse. I’m sure there is a film reel of Bigfoot resting on top of the crate with the Ark in it, somewhere in that place. 😉

  2. You know, if that film is still in good shape–

    All I am going to say is–let the Mallory discussion begin, once again-

  3. Huge difference between this and the fabled Mallory footage. First of all, this is a 35mm camera. Mallory’s wasn’t. And the film from this climb, which occurred 15 years after Mallory, was brought home safe and sound, and stored in a film archive, designed to protect film. Mallory’s film, where ever it is, has been out in the elements for decades.

  4. Just wanted to throw that out there that Jakub Bujak. One of the first guys up on that face was my great uncle.

  5. He died way before I was even born. The stories I heard were amazing. Like the one where he skied along the Arctic circle in Scandanavia. I still am in contanct with my aunt (his daughter). It is great that my family has this kind of history.

  6. Just for information: The Nanda Devi East expedition happened to be in 1939, just before World War II. Jakub Bujak tried to return to Poland, but ended up in England. He was an engineer (a good one too) and was working mainly on jet engines for planes during that time. After the war was over, he was trying to return to Poland, to his wife and children. He vanished right before he was supposed to leave England. His body was never found…

  7. It is also worth mentioning that on April 20, 2009 another expedition took off. They are trying to reach the top of Nanda Devi East to commemorate the 70 anniversary of the first ascent. It is organized by Jan Lenczowski, Jakub Bujak’s grandson. For more information, see http://nandadevi.pl/index.php (click on the British flag on your right for English). Enjoy!

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