Are Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski Based on Real People? How Did They Die?

Netflix’s ‘Broad Peak‘ is a Polish-language film that takes place atop the titular mountain. The adventure drama movie follows Maciej Berbeka, who falls just short of completing his conquest of Broad Peak. However, years later, Berbeka sets out on another journey to the summit of the mountain and is accompanied by mountain climber Tomasz Kowalski, resulting in a grave tragedy. Therefore, viewers must be wondering whether Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski and their fate in real life. In that case, here is everything you need to know! SPOILERS AHEAD!

Are Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski Based on Real People?

Yes, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski in ‘Broad Peak’ are based on real people of the same name. In the film, actors Ireneusz Czop and Maciej Raniszewski appear as fictionalized versions of real-life mountain climbers. Berbeka was born on October 17, 1954, in Zakopane, Poland. On the other hand, Kowalski was likely born in 1986. The duo of mountain climbers was part of a group that started their ascent of Broad Peak in March 2013. However, nearly 25 years before the ascent, Berbeka had attempted to climb the mountain’s summit.

Although Berbeka thought he had reached the summit, he fell short by nearly 17 meters and had to return due to several complications. Years later, Berbeka joined a crew of young mountain climbers on another expedition to Broad Peak. He was accompanied by Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski, and Artur Małek and worked under the leadership of Krzysztof Wielicki, leader of the winter expedition of the Polish Mountaineering Association. On March 5, 2013, the group successfully reached the summit. The duo’s mountaineering activities are detailed in the film adaptation with some dramatization. The film ends with the revelation of Berbeka and Kowalski’s death.

How Did Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski Die?

After completing their ascent and reaching the summit of Broad Peak, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski began their descent of the mountain. However, during the descent, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski failed to reach Camp 4 (at an altitude of 7400 meters). The base camp failed to contact the mountain climbers through radio. As a result, a rescue team was sent to conduct a search and rescue operation. However, the rescue team failed to find Berbeka and Kowalski, and the operation was called off due to bad weather conditions. Hence, the duo was reported to be missing. Two days later, on March 7, 2013, Wielicki declared that the two mountain climbers were dead after the rescue team failed to discover any trace of their survival.

Image Credit: Polski Himalaizm Zimowy

A few months later, Berbeka’s brother, Jacek Berbeka, traveled to Broad Peak, hoping to discover the bodies of the mountaineers. His expedition resulted in the discovery of Kowalski’s dead body, hanging vertically around at the 7900 meters altitude. The group reported that Berbeka’s body was likely located in a crevasse near the 7900-meter point. However, the difficult weather conditions left to safe method to explore the crevasse and retrieve the dead body. As a result, several media outlets confirmed Berbeka and Kowalski’s deaths. However, the exact cause of death has not been stated. Kowalski was 27 years old at the time of his death, while Berbeka aged 58. The latter’s body was not discovered, making it difficult to determine a cause of death. However, the bad weather conditions during the descent likely took a toll on crevasse Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski’s health, resulting in their death.

Read More: Where Was Netflix’s Broad Peak Filmed?