Rock and mountain climbing in the Małopolska region
Rock climbing sites in the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland (Jura)
The Kraków-Częstochowa Upland is popularly known as Jura due to the Jurassic limestone rocks that form it. Thanks to the rock formations found here, Jura is an ideal place to practise climbing. The Dolinki Podkrakowskie Landscape Park, located within the Jura Chain, is one of Poland’s most beautiful places for climbing. From the valleys strewn with streams, limestone rocks of characteristic shapes emerge. Apart from the valleys, rocky outcrops are a challenge for climbers. Jerzy Kukuczka, Martyna Wojciechowska, Artur Hajzer and other famous Polish Himalayan and sport climbers started their climbing adventures here.
- City climate - Kraków - The inhabitants of Kraków do not have to travel far to climb rock walls. One of the most famous and charming places is the surroundings of Zakrzówek. An artificial reservoir was created at the former Zakrzówek limestone quarry site. Many climbers come to Zakrzówek in the summer season to train, instead of the classic climbing routes. Zakrzówek is also the main base for dry tooling (winter climbing with the use of ice climbing equipment, such as ice axes or crampons, on non-icing rock routes) in Poland. In the vicinity of the lagoon, there are climbing walls called Skałki Twardowskiego. You can find a lot of climbing routes here equipped with a fixed belay. Popular climbing spots in Kraków can also be found in the Liban Quarry and Krzemionki.
- The Kobylańska Valley is one of the most popular climbing areas in Jura Krakowsko - Częstochowska. Many rock-climbing courses take place here due to the diversity of routes. There are walls of various difficulty levels here, from very simple routes for beginners, through multi-pitch walls to the most challenging routes. There is also a borderland water source in the valley.
- The Będkowska Valley is one of the longest valleys in Jura Krakowsko-Częstochowska. Będkowska Valley is the lucky owner of the highest rock in Jura called Sokolica, which measures about 60 metres. There are over 60 climbing routes in its area. There is also Brandysówka, an agrotourism farm that is very popular among climbers.
- The Bolechowicka Valley, despite being very short, has been one of the most popular climbing places since the beginning of mountain climbing in Poland, and many outstanding Polish climbers took their first steps here. There is the famous Krakowska Rock, otherwise known as the Kurtyka Rock.
- The Zimny Dół area of the charming nature reserve is home to the largest number of bouldering routes, i.e. short, not high, but technically difficult sections. The specificity of this discipline consists of climbing without using a rope; a mattress called a crash pad is used as protection. In Poland, bouldering enjoys growing popularity and is developing rapidly.
- Skała 502 and Ostry Kamień - located in Jerzmanowice (a village 25 km from Kraków) is the highest hill in the Olkusz Upland. The steep north-western wall is a place for rock climbing, with a beautiful view from the top, while from the eastern side, there is a relatively easy climb. Ostry Kamień (called the Capuchin) is another local boulder popular among climbers.
- Słoneczne Skały (Sunny Rocks) - in Jerzmanowice, there is also a group of several monadnocks - Słoneczne Skały (Sunny Rocks). Several dozen climbing routes have been marked out on these monadnocks. They are scattered on a small hill, thanks to which they look very picturesque. It is a trendy place among rock-climbing enthusiasts.
Climbing routes in the Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains and the granite which builds them offer many interesting climbing routes. There are both types of routes in Poland's highest mountains, for people just thinking about independent climbing in the mountains and advanced climbers. In the Tatra Mountains, there are also routes for very experienced climbers. Therefore, you can find many interesting routes of low difficulty where you can practice the art of mountain climbing.
- Grań Kościelców - the route to Kościelec is a ridge route. It is characterised by minor difficulties (I-II). It starts on the Mylna Pass and goes up through a rocky fault to the top of Zadni Kościelec. From there, the route, practically without difficulties, leads to the very beginning of another fault, which starts from the Kościelcowa Pass and leads to the peak of the Kościelec. The belaying on this route is not very complicated.
- The Uznański Route on Zadni Mnich - Zadni Mnich is located along the main Tatra ridge - it is a beautiful rock needle that rises above Dolina za Mnichem. The Uznański route runs along the south face, is a 3-pitch climb and, on the last pitch, reaches difficulty V (on the UIAA Tatra scale, where I is the easiest route and XI is the most difficult). This route leads in overall good, but in parts crumbly rocks. The length of the route on the three mentioned ascents is about 120 m.
- Mięguszowiecki Peak Wielki - Direttissima V - The northern cliffs of Mięguszowieckie Peak are very impressive. In the middle of one of these cliffs, one of the biggest climbing classics of the Polish Tatras runs. The Direttissima was marked out in one go in the winter of 1953. It is a long route with difficulty V and 800 meters of denivelation, so it is a huge physical challenge. One has to remember that most of the terrain is traversed with a flying belay, while the descent is one of the most complicated in the Polish part of the Tatra Mountains.
- Zamarła Turnia - Motyka V - The route is named after Stanisław Motyka - one of the most outstanding climbing representatives in the Tatra Mountains. One of the routes designated by him is the Motyka route, located on the south face of Zamarła Turnia. It is an exemplary Tatra “five”. The route starts with a characteristic jam, then there is some more nice terrain to overcome, and finally, it reaches the top of Zamarła Turnia. A standard set is sufficient for belaying on this route.
- Kościelec - Prawy Dziędzielewicz VI - At the end of our climbing adventure in the Tatra Mountains, we return to Kościelec. Its western wall offers many beautiful routes, and Prawy Dziędzielewicz is one of the most difficult routes to climb in the Tatra Mountains. There are five different lifts here: V+, IV, VI, V, VI - which traverse the western wall of Kościelec in a very logical way.
Other climbing areas in the Małopolska region
In the Beskid Mountains and the Karpathian Foothills are numerous single clusters of sandstone rocks for rope climbing and low boulders ideal for bouldering (climbing without a rope on free-standing boulders or special walls).
- Skałki Rożnowskie - The Rożnowskie Rocks are a trendy place among climbing enthusiasts. They are located by Rożnowskie Lake, in the former quarry area. The local rocks are made of Ciężkowice sandstone and have various interesting shapes and names, such as Ship, Hocking Wall, Wall over the West, Wall from the West or Downhill Turnia. The highest of these rocks is about 30 metres high, and the climbing routes have a very high difficulty level.
- Ciężkowice - Rock with a Cross - A popular place in the Małopolska region for bouldering is Skamieniałe Miasto (Petrified City) in Ciężkowice, often called the Fontainebleau of Małopolska. There is a beautiful view on Ciężkowice, the Biała Valley and further surroundings from its peak. In the past, one could climb here on most rocks. Today, only the Rock with a Cross is legally accessible for climbers.
Rock climbing - safety issues and where to start
You can start your climbing adventure, e.g. on artificial climbing walls or with a climbing course in rocks, using the services of professionals. Be aware, however, that climbing is an extreme sport - even as an amateur. It’s important to be careful! In order to go climbing, it’s not enough to have the proper safety and belaying system. It’s very important to have suitable training.
In addition to the most critical safety rules, it is also essential to take care of the right equipment and clothing. Clothing should be comfortable and allow freedom of movement. One of the most important elements of the climbing equipment is the harness, which should be adapted to the shape of the body. A climbing helmet is also essential.
To sum up, rock climbing can be practised by anyone with the right level of training and practice. Rock climbing is a challenge and a dream for many mountain lovers. It doesn’t matter whether you go to the rocks of the Kraków-Częstochowa Upland, the Tatra Mountains or limit yourself to artificial city walls. Whether a beginner or an advanced climber, rock climbing is an intellectually and physically demanding sport, but it can be very rewarding. But don’t forget about safety! Whether you are a professional or amateur climber, you absolutely must visit Małopolska!