climbers are renowned for their fearless hardcore approach to climbing and
a time I have sat, white knuckled, gripping a book with sweaty hands, and read
about the guts, determination, boldness and sheer grit of Polish climbers
forging their way up some horrendous unclimbed monster wall on a Himalayan
giant, or running it out mega-metres above sketchy gear on brick-hard rock
routes. Jerzy Kukuczka, Voytek
Rutkiewicz and Krzysztof Wielicki are
just a few famous names that jump out, but there are many more.
here in Cape Town, we have our own 'famous' Polish hard-core climber; none
other than Gosia Lipinska. They say that dynamite comes in small packages and
here is the proof.
first met Gosia about ten years ago. She was a short, chubby young girl who
worked at City Rock in Obz. She used to clumsily climb around on the indoor
walls with little finesse. Then one day, a year or so later, I was climbing at
the Mine and couldn't quite get through the crux of Jimmy and the Big Boys, a pumpy little 24, when a still fairly
chubby Gosia arrives at the crag with Karen Varga and promptly climbs the
route. This was the first time that I stood up and took notice of Gosia and
realised then that she had gritty determination and a very definite Polish
streak when it came to climbing.
that day, Gosia has risen steadily through the ranks and has become one of
South Africa's top climbers - man or woman. She has racked up a very impressive
list of serious trad routes, not least of all the NW Frontal route on Half Dome in a day, The Nose on El Capitan and many others abroad and here in South
only does she walk around with almost zero per cent body fat these days, but Gosia
has transformed from a clumsy beginner on indoor walls into a driven,
passionate climber who feels totally at home on hard big walls and equally at
ease on serious routes of all nature. She has astyle and grace on the rock that is enviable and a more-than-pleasant, bubbly disposition that is infectious.
by this young woman's accomplishments, tenacity and determination, I grabbed
Gosia between climbing trips and chatted to her about her life and climbing. read more>>
IMAGE: Scuttling across the massively exposed Thank God Ledge on Half Dome's Northwest Wall route, Yosemite. Photo ANDREW PORTER