Szymon on Cosi Fan Tutte F8a+, Rodellar © Michał Kwiatkowski
Szymon is one of the top Polish climbers and a self-confessed climbing addict. He has redpointed F8c and onsighted F8a+. He also loves competition climbing and has been a keen competitor in the Polish Cup in recent years.
He was born in Warsaw in 1993 and started climbing in 2000 when he was only seven years old. The nearest crag to the city is 250km away so Szymon’s induction into climbing took place indoors rather than on real rock.
Early on he took climbing lessons with Gosia Kusztelak and Przemek Klimek. “They were a great team to inspire kids to climb with fun and determination.”
When he did make it to the crag Szymon faced a baptism of fire:
“I think my first route graded F6a+ was Badermeinhof at Rzedkowice in the Polish Jura. This route has some moves on jugs on a little overhang, which was easy for me (I was quite strong for my age, but really, I didn’t know what to do with my feet). Above there was hard slab (for me anyway, I suppose it’s normally a piece of cake), and as everyone can guess, it was scarily bolted (of course it wasn’t, but in a kid’s imagination it was impressive). So I stood there for a really long time, something like 30 minutes in one place, before I finally I did it.”
For a while after this traumatic experience Szymon remained focused on bouldering and short routes, slowly building up his skills and confidence. However, in 2006, at the age of 13, he made an important psychological breakthrough when he climbed his first F6c+. This proved to be the start of an accelerating improvement curve which would see him surge upwards through the grades. The following year he managed F7a+, and then in 2008 he rose to F7c. In 2009 he climbed his first F8a and in 2010 his first F8b.
Szymon was performing well in competitions too. He was Polish junior lead champion in 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2011 he was bouldering champion. In 2011 and 2012 he started competing in the Polish Cup for lead climbing. In 2011 he gained 4th place overall, while in 2012 he managed 5th place overall.
© Jacek Matuszek
During this period Szymon concentrated on training and soon began to feel the positive effects out on the crag. In 2012 he went to Rodellar and onsighted Gracias Fina F8a and Las dos Golondrinas de la Piscineta F8a+. While there he also pushed his redpoint standard significantly with a run of increasingly difficult routes: Philipe Cuisinere F8b/+, Botanics F8b/+ and Geminis F8b+. Then the big prize of the year came with Pata Negra, his first F8c.
Returning to Rodellar in 2013 Szymon continued to mop up more classic test pieces, including A Media Asta F8b, Ixeia F8b+, Tripa de Conejo F8b+ and Florida F8c. On a trip to Ceuse he onsighted Carte Blanche F8a and Face de Rat F8a+.
Szymon has visited various climbing areas in Europe (Frankenjura, Polish Jura, Adlitzgraben, Osp, a few crags in France, Italy, Czech Republic) but his favourite place is Rodellar in Spain - “I like this the most because of the continuous and athletic style of routes.” In 2013 he also made a brief to visit to the DMM factory in Wales, where he sampled the local crags and made quick work of Jerry’s Roof 7C and Bus Stop 7B+ in the Llanberis Pass.
“To improve your climbing skills it’s important to move to new places, check other kinds of rocks, discover climbing and the way of life of the local climbers, and, of course, just for the fun of it.”
Szymon is currently studying at the Warsaw University of Technology and working at the Arena Wgore climbing wall in Warsaw (where he trains too).
“I’m mostly interested in improving my skills in whole fields of life, for example, I like to do other sports, read scientific books, publications, and of course try to know much more about training.”
“I like all kinds of sport climbing, bouldering, lead, in rocks or on gym and competitions too, trying routes in onsight, flash or redpoint. I just like to make a good effort and try things at my limit.”
Check out this film of Szymon on Aleja Zasłużonych VI.5+/6 at Jastrzębnik in the Polish Jura.