Broad Peak ending explained: What happened to Maciej?

Broad Peak retells the real-life story of the Polish mountaineering legend Maciej Berbeka and his battle with one of the most perilous mountain peaks in the Himalayas, his defeat, and the eventual fate following his second ascent after twenty-five years.

Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers

Plot summary

Beberka’s narration kicks off the movie and sets the establishing picture — It’s the winter ascents of 1988 and a team of Polish Himalayan mountaineers have set camp at the base of K2 — the “eight-thousander” peak they’re about to summit.

However, it’s been over two months and the expedition has yet to set up a second camp, due to the extremely high winds, making it impossible for the climbers to ascend.

One of the climbers, Alek Lwow, ideates that he and Maciej Berbeka should instead go for the neighboring peak of the Karakoram, also known as the “Broad Peak.” He convinces Berbeka to hop on board but the hurdle they face now is convincing the rest of the team.

They eventually convince others, albeit with certain difficulty and understandable grievances from the team.

Maciej and Lwow begin the ascent and are initially off to a decent start, the two confront an impending onslaught of hellish winds and weather extremity. Lwow wants to turn around before the conditions worsen but Maciej relents still.

While everyone at the base camp waits for Maciej to respond over the communications, Maciej climbs and climbs and finally reaches out to them, informing them that he’s reached the summit.

The news is flooded with Maciej’s success, with the world celebrating him as a champion of the Broad Peak. Ewa, his wife, is delighted to hear the news too. Then comes the descent, which proves to be exponentially harder an ordeal for Maciej.

He’s stuck in a spot for more than 16 hours and then musters up the energy to resume the descent and eventually reunited with Alek too. Andrej, the expedition leader sends Krzysiek and men to help carry Alek and Maciej down the rest of the descent.

They all come down and frostbitten Maciej is escorted out of the mountains via a helicopter. He’s the talk of the town and the world. Families and friends celebrate and all seem like a follow-up to a great achievement.

However, Maciej keeps feeling somewhat uneasy recalling the summit. His unease proves to be justified when three months after his ascent, an article by Alek is published, and in it, he reveals that Maciej never really reached the summit, but the Rocky summit, also known as the fore summit.

Enraged, Maciej rushes to Andrej’s house and asks who knew about the fact that he didn’t finish the summit. Andrej tells him everyone did, following which Maciej stormed off and ceased all his communications with his colleagues.

Even though Maciej promised his wife that he would never go back to the summit with the expedition, jump cut to 2012, and he’s contacted by Krzysiek, who offers him a spot in the forthcoming ascent of the Broad Peak, with three young climbers.

Maciej refuses it at first but eventually decides to go for it. And so begins his second attempt at ascending atop the Broad Peak, along with three other young climbers — Artur, Tomek, and Adam.

Broad Peak ending explained in detail:

Why does Maciej go back to Broad Peak?

Ever since he came across the shocking revelation that he had failed to reach the summit by a mere 17-meter distance, the massive sense of failure kept gnawing at him, making him regret the pointlessness of it all — his achingly hard climb, the colossal hurdles, the frostbites, and the miraculous survival from being stuck at 8000 meters.

He had let go of his colleagues since they kept the fact of his failure from him. He was embittered and frustrated beyond anything by his 17-meter failure.

However, the sense of failure was also carrying with it, an intense desire to finish what he once embarked on. Maciej wanted to conquer the summit.

When opportunities came knocking again, Maciej grabbed them and went for the summit, trying to erase the tag of failure and fraud he had felt on himself for more than two decades.

Did Maciej reached the summit at the end?

Yes, Maciej did reach the summit and finally conquered the Broad Peak. He did it along with his teammates Adam Tomek, and Artur.

It was way easier of an ascent than his last attempt exactly 25 years ago. However, Maciej’s second ascent of the Broad Peak was met with some considerable delays, leading to tragedies later on.

Who died at the end?

Broad Peak is a real-life story of Maciej Berbeka, the polish mountaineer and guide who was famous for his victories over “eight-thousanders” — peaks over eight thousand meters from the sea level.

Berbeka had finished his ascent in 1988, only to later find out that he fell 17 meters short of reaching the summit. Twenty-five years later, he went for it again, this time scaling the Broad Peak successfully.

However, on the descent back to the base camp, tragedy struck, and Maciej, along with his teammate Tomasz Kowalski went missing on March 6, 2013.

Both of the mountaineers were later declared dead, with their bodies never being recovered, as is the case with almost all fatalities in perilous locations such as Broad Peak.

Why did Maciej’s colleagues hide the truth from him?

Back during his first ascent of the Broad Peak in 1988, Maciej relented and persevered through the storms and winds at incredible speeds. With his face covered in snow and inflected greatly by the consequent frostbites, Maciej kept climbing.

When he was stuck at 8000 meters for more than sixteen hours, Andrej sent his colleagues to help Maciej and Lwow back to safety. It was after three months of celebration and atop a lurking feeling of unease and dread that Maciej learned about his failure to reach the summit.

When he asked Andrej why he and his other colleagues hid the truth about his incomplete ascent from him, Andrej told him that if they didn’t, Maciej would have kept on climbing and eventually succumbed to his death.

It was sort of true, given how passionately Maciej wanted to conquer the peak and had demonstrated his relentlessness for it. However, the fact that he was kept unaware of his failure for three months after the supposed victory, shocked him off the hinges and contributed to him feeling like a failure and a fraud for over two decades, until he ultimately conquered Broad Peak and overcame all those feelings.

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