The Polish history of climbing starts in the 1818 year. On the 1st of August, 25-year old polish climber and poet Antoni Malczewski reached the north, virgin summit of Aiguille du Midi (3795 m). A few days later he climbed to the top of Mount Blanc as the eighth climber in the world. It was the beginning of a long history of Polish mountain conquests. The names of Jerzy Kukuczka, Wojtek Kurtyka, Wanda Rutkiewicz or Krzysztof Wielicki are well for every mountain lover. Their achievements marked the milestones in the world of mountaineering, especially in a history of Himalayas conquests.
Polish climbers tried to climb to the top of Mount Everest since the begging of XX century. In the 1924 year, Adam Karpiński was completely prepared to start the Everest expedition. He has organised all, the crew, equipment and found the expedition’s sponsor. Unfortunately, the English officials responsible for the climbing permit in that times didn’t want any other nation to reach Mount Everest before the climbers from England do, so Polish Everest expedition failed. After that, the II World War came, and the geopolitical situation of Poland has changed. Poland as a part of Soviet Union’s dominion was isolated from the rest of the world. When the isolation was over, Polish climbers have started to make up the distance to the world leaders. The first Polish Himalaya Expedition after II World War was made in 1974 when almost all eight-thousanders were conquered. That’s why Polish climbers started the winter climbing in Himalaya, and soon they became the masters of this style of mountaineering. I recommend to read “Freedom climbers ” by Bernadette Mcdonald and watch on youtube “Art of Freedom” to fully grasp the amazing history of Polish climbing. Check this movie link trailer.
Climbing regions in Poland:
There are few climbing regions in Poland. Most of them are located in the southern Poland, where mountain ranges are stretching along the Slovakian and Czech border. The most important are:
1) The Tatra Mountains – the main mountaineering regions in Poland. The Tatras are the only Polish alpine mountains. Located 100 km south of Cracow, are easily accessible from the Krakow airport. Most of the rocks are the granite, but also limestone and dolomite. Predominantly traditionally protected climbing routes but you can find a lot of sport routes as well. Excellent region for winter climbing due to very good condition in winter.
2) Jura Highlands – a paradise for the sport climbers. Located between Krakow and Częstochowa, easily accessible from Katowice airport. There are nearly 10,000 routes in 3 areas: Northern Jura, Central Jura and Southern Jura. The rocks are limestone. Routes are well bolted and new developments are happening every year.
3) Sudety Mountains – located in the south-western Poland, close to the Wrocław airport. Sudety offers many climbing routes in the five regions. The whole area is densely covered with forests. The rocks are granite (Sokoliki, Rudawy Janowicekie), basalt (Karkonosze), sandstone (Hejszowina), metamorphic, igneous rocks (Kłodzka Valley). Sudety offer climbing for all grades and styles with hard climbing ethics especially in Hejszowia to many sport routes and bouldering problems in other parts.