Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Krakowski Festiwal Gorski

Earlier this month I went to Poland, to attend the Krakow Mountain Festival and to try to do some climbing. The festival is a great event, similar to but maybe even bigger than the Banff Film Festival. It featured some cool films and slide shows, but as is usually the case at such events, the socializing that went on in the hallways, restaurants and bars was the best part. There one got to reconnect with old friends and make new ones.

Drytooling at Zakrzowek, a quarry in Krakow popular with the ice-tool-wielding crowd.

Wojtek Kurtyka (left) and Maciek Ciesielski on Barka, a floating bar on the Vistula River.

Jan Muskat, "The King of the Tatras" and a pioneer of frozen grass climbing.

The climbing part of the trip was supposed to take in the famous frozen grass of the Tatras. Unfortunately winter was late in arriving, with rain in the valleys and the freezing level hovering not far below the mountaintops. We did try to go climbing in the mountains in spite of the less than promising weather, but without much success. We consoled ourselves by going drytooling, usually in old quarries, usually in the rain - it beat sitting at home.

"Ducks? What ducks?" Maciek Ciesielski (left) and Tadek Grzegorzewski taking their gear for a walk.

"Where's the climbing?" Maciek Ciesielski (left) and Tadek Grzegorzewski executing Plan B.

Maciek Ciesielski (belaying) and Raphael Slawinski drytooling in an old quarry.

The week I spent in Krakow and Zakopane (the Polish Banff) flew by altogether too quickly. But the hospitality I experienced and the promise of unique climbing when the temperatures do drop already have me plotting a return visit.

Raphael Slawinski contriving a variation in Hala Gasienicowa. Photo: Lukasz Warzecha (http://www.lwimages.co.uk/).

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