Over the Hill and on the Mountain Top
Various types of climbing
Mountain climbing, rock climbing, sport climbing, cave climbing (in caving clubs), parachute climbing, climbing to ski and climbing ended with police chase after going up a skyscraper. How does it all start? You see small kids in brochures advertising climbing clubs.
Marcin Kasprzyk (photo): My adventure with climbing started at secondary school. We had a simple climbing wall with two ropes in my home town. I joined the local climbing club and climbed once a week. This was where I learned the basics of climbing and climbing protection. It was 11 years ago… It is easy to start climbing, all you need is enthusiasm and willingness to do something for yourself.
Although climbing clubs and walls do not operate everywhere, their number consistently grows in Poland. It is worth choosing the one approved by Polish Mountaineering Federation, as such venues are run by experienced instructor climbers who do have enthusiasm and can stir it up in you. And in order to start…
Marcin: It is worth trying any form of climbing, be it climbing a wall or a rock. Only this way you can see if you like it or not. Each, even a seemingly easy climbing route, gives you a lot of satisfaction, if you cover the whole distance without falling out. As for technique, at the start the most important thing is not to hang on your hands and to make sure that you place your feet with precision. It is advisable to start at a climbing club or with the help of an experienced friend. This way, already in the beginning, you will avoid bad habits and work out optimum technique. The only predisposition for climbing is willingness to make effort and being active.
Where to climb?
You should start climbing with the help of an instructor. Where to do it? The list of climbing schools and courses can be found on Wspinanie.pl. So all you have to do is visit the nearest climbing club. The only question is how much it costs and this is sometimes a bigger challenge than a rock you have to climb.
Buy an axe…
Marcin: The price of climbing gear is usually the biggest obstacle to starting the adventure with climbing. On average you have to pay PLN 350 four shoes and chalk. Club membership fees and these for using the walls will cost similar amounts. If you go for rock climbing you need more gear. Harness, ropes, carabiners, quickdraws, sliders... All this will cost you around PLN 1500.
But if you're really into something, then you will find money for it. And climbing can be a passion for life.
Sea or rather (mountain) of opportunity
Marcin: When you start to climb, you can reach really high, even 8848 metres… Yet, in majority of cases the adventure with climbing starts and ends with a rock climbing course. This is an option for those who want to climb along the routes and with protection. And for thrill seekers, we recommend summer and winter mountaineering courses, which have several levels of advancement. The best course graduates who display pedagogical talents, can attend instructor courses and start teaching others.
Many climbing clubs organise climbing camps and trips to mountains in Poland and abroad. They offer additional training and courses, such as ice and cave climbing, ski mountaineering or parachuting. And there comes a moment when you realise that you simply cannot live without it. What can climbing give you?
Marcin: Self-confidence and self-assurance. Climbing is great for relieving stress. When you climb, you need to calm down and relax in order to ensure that your movements are soft and fluid. It is also great to share your passion with a group of other enthusiasts. You do not need to be a member of an association or a club to climb, but it is well worth joining them in order to enter the climbing community and have companions for training and climbing trips.
Can you go uphill the easy way?
If you fear moving 50 cm above the ground and still love the mountains, you can combine the two by traditional mountain climbing. You can join a mountaineering club at a youth culture centre or at a university, which often operate as individual units of the University Sports Association. Camping trips are part and parcel of scouting, for example. There you also go uphill but without losing contact with the firm ground. You can also study mountaineering as part of tourism and recreation programme at a university of physical education. The University in Krakow offers a dedicated course in adventure tourism. Each year, the students of this study programme organise Koniczynka Trail Marathon in the Ojców National Park. This is one of a few marathons, which is fun and not result oriented and participation in which if free.
What are these ropes doing there?
Ropes hanging in a park or a ropes park... This is amusement for the whole families and a good starting point for climbing. Ropes and platforms mounted on the trees 5-9 metres above the ground are usually accompanied by nets, beams and other safety devices. This entertainment is safe, as you have a lot of protection equipment, so even if you fall out, you do not fall down. The list of Polish ropes parks can be found on Polskie Parki Linowe.
Article, photo, interview: Łukasz Smogorowski