7th Krakow Mountain Festival (KFG) has finished. This edition proved again that Krakow hosts the biggest mountaineering festival in Poland.

Three days of 7th Krakow Mountain Festival 2009

This year, over 5,000 people turned up at the Krakow University of Economics and the interest was so big that not everybody was able to get tickets for evening shows.

Fotostrecke: Krakow Mountain Festival 2009

Fotos: © Adam Kokot

Every year something exceptional happens during the festival. This year there were at least a few such unique occasions – e.g. 100 anniversary of TOPR or 70 anniversary of the Polish ascent of Nanda Devi (7434 m, Himalayas). Yet, the most memorable event for the festival audience was a symbolical farewell to a man who was a symbol of the modern Polish Himalayan climbing – Piotr Morawski.This great Himalayan climber and an exceptional man died on Dhaulagiri in April 2009. Frankly speaking, the show Odchodz?c od sati. Opowie?? o podró?ach ?ycia – a very intimate, sincere and moving presentation – prepared by Piotr's wife, Olga Morawska, was one of the strongest moments of all editions of KFG.

Nevertheless, festival life goes on – and sometimes it is hard to keep up with its pace. The same evening, the organisers prepared for the audience a real film feast. The title of this block was On Rock and Ice and it consisted of three films: Ice, Anarchy, and the Pursuit of Madness by Steve House, relating an ascent of K7, Committes II – Grit Kids by Paul Diffley and Dave Brown, showing us crazy teenage climbs in British grits and finally Sharp End by Peter Mortimer, starring the best world climbers including this year's guest of KFG – Tommy Caldwell.

This year the festival hosted three foreign stars. The first guest to Krakow was Patxi Usobiaga  – a sport climbing master and a real cyborg of training. During the first part of his presentation, the friendly Basque was explaining how to train in order to onsight 8c+ and win the World Championships. It was definitely the most interesting and expressive part of his show (it included fragments of the film Progression presenting the best competitors of the World Cup). I believe that our climbers would be able to learn a lot from the Basque. However, the second part in which he talked about his trip to Argentina and a new quality to his climbing – trad routes – turned out to be slightly more static and colourless.

During the same evening, another climbing fanatic, one of the major players on El Capitan – Tommy Caldwell  – presented himself on the main stage. We witnessed a sample of the relaxed American approach (in a positive sense of the word), a spontaneous show and absolutely extraordinary climbing skills. As Tommy admitted, climbing in Yosemite is 90% experience and 10% strength, and Tommy's climbing sequences on El Cap, shown during the presentation, were a good proof for this statement. It is worth mentioning that the success of the show was co-authored by Adam Pustelnik, who skilfully interpreted Caldwell's words.

However, an interpreter was not need for the next speaker – the world-class ice climber, Rafa? S?awi?ski, who is a Polish expatriate and has lived for years in Canada. The Krakow Festival was for him a good reason to visit Poland for the first time in 20 years. Similarly to Usobiaga and Caldwell, he gave the true meaning to the word „passion“ and proved to be a great master in his field. He gave an impression to be playing with his climbing and at the same time to be great at his work.

There were many more great climbers and mountaineers on the festival stage. A leading Polish Himalayan climber – Kinga Baranowska  attracted one of the biggest audiences (except the Friday show of Olga Morawska). It is worth reminding that Kinga climbed this year Kangchenjunga as the first Polish woman and the fifth woman in the world.

The best sport and mountain climbers competed for the prestigious „Jedynka“ Award, boulderers struggled in Polish Bouldering Cup, and our film makers rivalled for Grand Prix of KFG 2009. The results were presented during the Sunday Gala, which this year was hosted by a Himalayan climber, Piotr Pustelnik. During the Sunday evening show there was a special moment – Pustelnik paid tribute to the great personalities of the climbing world who passed away in the last year. Krzysztof Pankiewicz and Andrzej Skwirczy?ski are no longer with us, and also John Bachar, who just a year ago, at the previous KFG, talked about his amazing solo climbs. We hope it will not sound like a cliché but our intention is to make KFG a place where we will always remember those who are missed…