PASSIONS OF OUR EMPLOYEES
More than 8,000 employees, a lot of passion, one company. An interview with Grzegorz Zwolak, The Jarosław branch employee, who talked with us about his passion: mountaineering.
Please tell us about your passion. Why such interest?
Mountains are my long-time passion. I took my first mountaineering steps hiking in nearby Bieszczady. I still remember my first trip, the first contact with the map and the trail. Even now I can show on the map the route that we hiked with my friend back then. We were fifteen, had heavy backpacks and no solid plans. With time, more and more willingly I ventured into other mountain ranges in Poland and Ukraine. I gained experience and confidence. Finally, I decided to raise the proverbial bar. My second hobby is travelling, so I decided to try and join both my passions together. And so, the idea of conquering the Crown of Europe was born. It required climbing 47 mountains – the highest peaks of countries geographically belonging to Europe. In the meantime, I also decided to conquer the peaks of the Crown of the Polish Mountains.
How do you prepare for the trip?
I start preparations by creating a list of equipment necessary for the given trip, always beginning with first aid kits, batteries, sunglasses and sunscreen. The smallest things are the easiest to forget and their lack can be very disappointing. I had an opportunity to learn this first-hand. Apart from that, I read travel accounts of other trekkers. I monitor the weather conditions in the target region. I exercise regularly all year round to prevent an enjoyable trip from becoming a nightmare.
What peaks have you conquered?
Of the 28 peaks belonging to the Crown of the Polish Mountains, I climbed: Babia Góra, Śnieżka, Śnieżnik, Tarnica, Turbacz, Mogielica, Wysoka, Lackowa, Lubomir, Kłodzka Góra and Łysica.
From the five-thousanders I climbed the highest peak in Russia - Mount Elbrus (5642 m) - which is counted among the Crown of the World peaks and Mount Kazbek (5033 m) in Georgia.
As for the Crown of Europe, thus far I managed to climb the highest peaks in the following countries:
- France – Mont Blanc (4808 m),
- Austria – the Grossglockner (3798 m), winter climb,
- Slovenia – Triglav (2864 m), winter climb,
- Albania / Macedonia (border peak) – Korab (2764 m),
- Slovakia – Gerlach (2655 m), winter climb,
- Romania – Moldoveanu (2544 m),
- Ukraine – Hoverla (2061 m),
- Czechia – Śnieżka (1603 m),
- Ireland – Carrantuohill (1039 m),
- Hungary – Kékes (1014 m),
- Estonia – Suur Munamägi (318 m)
- Latvia – Gaiziņkalns (312 m),
- Lithuania – Aukštojas Hill (294 m).
Have you experienced anything unusual during one of your trips?
Two years ago, at the end of April, me and my friend have spontaneously came up with the idea to climb Kékes – the highest peak in Hungary. The plan was to get there by car, drive as high as possible and reach the summit before midnight. Five kilometres before the target destination, the Hungarian road maintenance crew have told us to turn away because the road was unexpectedly buried under the snow. At least that’s what our translator app told us. We spent the night in the parking lot at the foot of the peak. In the morning we set off on foot straight to the top. Even though down by the car there was true spring weather, after the first 500 meters the first snow began to appear, getting deeper with every kilometre and finally reaching up to our waists. It may be hard to imagine, but it took us five hours to reach the summit which was just eight kilometres away.
Do you manage to reconcile personal life, work and passion?
Nowadays, just like many other people, I suffer from a chronic lack of time connected with work and family duties. When you travel, for example to the Alps, it is necessary to notify your boss about your plans much earlier, because the accommodation in the tourist shelters needs to booked months in advance. But I manage to go on a longer trip once or twice a year. Fortunately, my wife partly shares my interests, so we are conquering the Crown of the Polish Mountains together, during short trips.
What are your plans?
This year I plan to climb the highest peak in Greece and go to Liechtenstein and Switzerland. In addition to the Crown of Europe, I have several other plans, and the list keeps on growing. I will not mention them here, because I don’t want to jinx them and besides, my wife does not know about some of them.
Thank you for the interview! We wish you many more peaks to conquer!