translated by Stefan Sokołowski
We are a group of mountain lovers, who devote their entire leisure time to mountain excursions. After a couple of years of common trips, mainly in Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian and Romanian Carpathians, we called our activities Carpathian Club. However, we still remain, and hopefully always will, an informal group with no organizational structure, open to newcomers.
We consistently avoid the crowds and noise of popular resorts, parking lots, hotels, ski lifts, mountain huts and all places within the reach of a commercial mass tourist. Instead, we go to places difficult to access. Where mountains have managed to fend off the encroachment of civilization. Where nature lives its natural life. Where we have never been before. Besides learning and discovering the remotest reaches of our favourite mountains, Carpathians, the excursions give us a break from the monotony of everyday activities, from the urban civilization, they give us a chance to stay for a while in the other world and to taste adventure. They cleanse our minds, improve our abilities to cope with difficult situations and enhance our team spirit. They teach us more about ourselves, put to trial our most important personal qualities and give us lasting and fruitful friendships.
With time passing, subsequent excursions have raised our interest in the history and the culture of Carpathians, at an amateur level for the time being. Over centuries, the Carpathian lands have stayed
under incessantly fluctuating influences of great cultures. Since they remained for most of the time on the peripheries of great empires, time has flown slower there than elsewhere. Ages ago as well as now, they have been filled with a colourful multi-lingual mosaic of nations, customs and traditions. In the era of ongoing in this part of Europe changes and unification of national cultures, we want to pay visit to the places in Carpathians, where one lives in ``the old ways'' likely to disappear shortly. We believe this would bring harm not only to peoples living there but also to all who understand the importance of cultural diversity.
The style of our tourism is similar to the one adhered to by pioneers of Polish mountain exploration in East Carpathians. To get where others do not, we give up most of conveniences taken advantage of by mass tourists. We use bonfire to prepare our meals, we sleep in tents, in shepherd shacks or under no roof whatsoever, and we do our best to spend as much time in mountains as possible. However, our trips bear no resemblance to professional sport, we do not engage in mountaineering nor in presently fashionable ``survival training''. We keep on experimenting in new techniques allowing us to save on the costs and on the weight of our always too heavy backpacks. We care for our safety by the adherence to a number of tried principles. We collect information about the places we plan to visit, about possible problems and we select our equipment and food with care. We never drink alcohol in mountains. We avoid unnecessary risk and we attempt to face the ``necessary'' one with full awareness. In emergencies we act together and, in mountains, we leave nobody to their own lot.
As a group, we are open to newcomers wishing to participate in our activities. From those who join our mountain trips, we require as much as from ourselves. We expect them to be self-reliant, responsible, able to cooperate, and to possess basic skills indispensable in mountains. We are pleased to share our knowledge and experience and we are as pleased to learn from others.
Carpathian Club's excursions
We prefer trips on foot and on ski in the areas least known, weakly civilized and rarely visited nowadays by mass tourists. For longer trips (4 to 16 days), we usually travel to Ukrainian Carpathians (at least 4 days, 4-5 trips a year) or to Romanian Carpathians (at least 9 days, 2-3 trips a year). During the few years of the existence of the Carpathian Club, we have visited almost all mountain groups situated in the Romanian and in the Ukrainian Carpathians. Besides many-day excursions, we also organize weekend trips. For the latter, we usually go to Polish, Slovak, Czech or Hungarian Carpathians. The times and routes of the weekend trips are usually decided on some 2 or 3 days before departure, depending on weather forecasts and on preferences of the persons willing to participate.
The kernel of the group consists of the people permanently connected to the Carpathian Club but new persons are always welcome. We attempt never to exceed a reasonable size of the group. Usually, this is five to eight persons, very seldom more than ten. Our trips are frequented by people of both genders leaving in various places in Poland. Their ages vary widely but most of them are between 25-35 years old. We care very much about the coordination of our activities, therefore we expect team spirit from all the participants, but also a good deal of self-reliance. The system of people taking the duties in turn did not catch with us; simply, there has always been somebody willing to do the work. There is not formal notion of membership of the Carpathian Club. The only manifestation of the Club's existence are the excursions in the Carpathians, and likewise, the only manifestation of the membership is the participation in these excursions. The nature of the excursions requires that everyone consciously gives up some of his/her privacy and freedom and obeys the decisions of the leader. In return, we can together reach places, where going alone would be tedious or dangerous, sometimes even impossible.
Many-day and get-together trips
By their nature, many-day mountain excursions in a difficult and weakly civilized terrain with a whimsical weather -- which is where we mostly travel -- may be physically and psychically exhausting. A success of such excursions depends a lot on a suitable preparation of all the participants, on the ability to cooperate, on mutual confidence and on the general acceptance of our style of tourism. In view of this, we invite to our many-day trips only such persons, who have participated in former trips and had an opportunity to get to know their character. For the sake of the ones who have never travelled with us and would like to take part in a many-day trip, we organize get-together trips: short (2--3 days) mountain excursions in an easy terrain, usually in Slovakia. The get-together trips, typical of the Carpathian Club's excursions but shorter, are a good opportunity to knowing each other, exchanging experiences and trying the equipment. The participation in the get-together trips facilitates the preparation of newcomers to the many-day trips. We treat it as a prerequisite to the participation in many-day trips. The dates of the get-together trips are usually set 2--3 weeks before a many-day excursion. Please, contact us ahead of the time to give us a chance to organize a get-together trip. The persons willing to take part in an excursion organized by the Carpathian Club should get to know the nature of the tourism practiced by us and to prepare for a trip in compliance with our hints.
Organization of excursions
We all share the costs and the hassle of excursion organization. We do not charge any fees for the organization of trips. Since our professional duties sometimes get in the way of our taking leave in a projected time, the dates of the excursions may change. Sometimes we may have to cancel some of the trips. We do our best to keep the costs down. In particular, we do not make use of expensive trains (sleeping cars, etc.), we prepare our food ourselves, we do most shopping on wholesale terms.
Our day in mountains
We strive to use the day effectively. Our day in mountains begins at 5:30am local time irrespective of the weather. We try to overnight in a picturesque place. We travel on foot or on touring ski (so called ``ski-tour'') but without mountaineering. Our routes are ambitious but we attempt to adapt them to the capabilities of all participants. As far as feasible, we walk from dawn till dusk only. We try to rest shortly (10-15 minutes) after every hour of march. In summer, when the day is long, we usually make a longer afternoon rest (1-1,5 hours). We try never to lose hope that even the worst of weathers may change for the better and that one should not give up too soon by changing the program of the trip or by retreating to civilization. As long as consistent with safety, we continue our trip irrespective of the weather.
We sleep in tents both in summer and in winter but sometimes we also happen to put up in deserted mountains shacks or in the open. We attempt to sleep at least 7.5 hours. We tend to pitch our tents on mountain ridges, which unfortunately limits our possibilities to wash ourselves.
We cook on bonfire if possible (i.e., if firewood is available and no foresters in view). We save our stoves for forestless areas and for railway stations. We prepare our breakfasts and dinners together, but still every participants should be prepared to make his/her meal on his/her own. Everybody carries only as much food as they are prepared to eat. Also, everybody makes their own decisions what, how much and when they are prepared to take. A constantly improved tourist menu is one of our original contributions.
On the other hand...
... on our trips we do not take either radio receivers or audio equipment, we do not drink alcohol, we do not smoke. We make no use of mountain huts or students' shelters, camping sites or official tent pitching areas. We do not look at the mountains form the heights of a bicycle saddle. We have no interest for mountains crushed by feet, covered with tar, crowded and polluted.
Disclaimer of responsibility
Excursions on foot and on ski in the Carpathian area may involve a risk to participants' health and life. While organizing them, we take all necessary measures to keep them safe, we face danger together and help the ones who need help. However, neither the Carpathian Club nor the leaders of the club excursions can accept a formal responsibility for the participants' safety. This responsibility stays solely with the involved participants. The persons, who knowingly and contrary to the leader's instruction undertake activities notwithstanding with the safety principles, are excluded from the excursion. The participants of the Carpathian Club's excursions must not be under age, unfit or without a proper equipment.
Contact with the Carpathian Club
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; URL: www.klub-karpacki.org
Information about planned trips and slide projections can be found on the announcement boards in academic colleges in Warsaw, and in other places in Warsaw committed to posters about tourist events. Current information on the Carpathian Club and about excursion preparations can be found in the Internet on the WWW pages under the URL www.klub-karpacki.org, or at the phone number given above. The announcements about the planned trips, slide demonstrations, etc., are also broadcasted to usenet discussion lists on tourism, such as pl.rec.gory
You are cordially invited ...