11 December, 2002


Most difficult task imaginable


Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the expedition, is in the middle, side by side to Janusz Onyszkiewicz, the President of the Polish Alpinism Association. Monika Rogozinska, the "Rzeczpospolita" correspondent, talks about the Himalayas.

The himalaists are leaving for Karakorum only in a week's time, namely on December 16, but the Netia K2 Polish Winter Expedition, who for the first time will try to reach the Mountain of Mountains at this time of year, was officially bidden farewell in Warsaw on Monday already.

Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the expedition, says, "We are simply going to K2. For 15 years, nobody has dared to go there after our memorable expedition with Andrzej Zawada during the 1987/88 season. It seems that we've given a lot of time to the competition. Now we are a little bit older, but I've invited young people to participate, so I figure it is going to be fine. In my not so humble opinion, they are in the very same situation now as I was back in 1980, when I reached Everest in winter straight away, even though I haven't reached any 8000'er before".

In his historical outline, Janusz Onyszkiewicz, the President of the Polish Alpinism Association, took first and foremost the role of Andrzej Zawada into consideration, to whom the expedition is dedicated. The originator of the program of Polish winter climbs on the highest mountains of the world was also present in the recollection of his wife, Anna Milewska, who gracefully recalled her mountain adventures, especially two Christmas Eves in the Himalayas, including one "with grass, that is with hay placed, in accordance with an old Polish tradition, on the table..."

Monika Rogozinska, mountaineering correspondent for "Rzeczpospolita", introduced Henryk Franczak to those present, an RAF pilot, Founder of Aviation in the Himalayas, hero of a "National Geographic" report from 1952. Mr. Franczak came from the US especially for this occasion. Mrs. Rogozinska also proudly presented a grayed, 42-year-old flag "The Explorers Club" with the number 162 on it, which the respectable club gave the members of the expedition as a sign of recognizing the significance of the undertaking. The expedition is going to be shown everyday on TVP from January 6.

The mountaineers, who will begin their struggle against the mountain in a few weeks' time, did not talk much. Jacques Olek (a Canadian with Polish roots), deputy head of the expedition team, summed the whole thing up in a few words: "Our vision - Zawada, our goal - K2, Northern Pillar in winter, the team - Netia K2 headed by Wielicki". Conversations regarding the fact that it is going to be the hardest task imaginable were a bit quieter. A short film from the reconnaissance showed that pack camels were falling over already on their way to the K2 glacier. It won't get any easier for people.

Krzysztof Rawa

(Polish - English translation: "Scrivanek")