The Polish athlete Karolina Ośka tells us all about herself after sending her first 8C

Karolina Ośka, Team CT’s Polish athlete, this summer climbed her first 8C, «Nie dla psa kiełbasa», and Piotr Czmoch interviewed her.

How you feel as a fourth (if I’m not wrong) polish woman who did 8c?

Oh there were more of us : Ola Taistra, Kinga Ociepka, Nina Gmitter, Ida Kupś, Ola przybysz, Sylwia Buczek. Maybe I forgot about someone else. As you can see, 8C for a woman’s is not a rare thing. I am pretty sure that soon every other girl from „The Crown” (sporting club from Kraków)

will manage to do it. It’s cool that I live in the time when it still means something [laugh].

On the other hand, there aren’t many VI.7 among women in Poland. I haven’t tried any 8c outside Poland. Is it more interesting there? Maybe I will check it soon.


In the last two years you were difficult to spot in the rocks. At the same time we could hear about valuable crossings of multipitch routes, on the Picos De Europa or Yosemite. Does the fact that you climbed „Nie dla psa kiełbasa” [„honey is too good for a bear”] mean that you come back to sport climbing?

Yes, but there’s a hidden meaning. I think it’s a stage, after which the time will come for big walls again. Sport climbing was important for me all the time, also for the last two years of multi-pitch climbing. During this time my attitude to sport climbing has changed very much. I still want to climb difficult routes in the rocks, but now I know that’s only a small part of the opportunities offered by climbing. When I think about sport climbing as the only goal, it seems incomplete to me. Something is missing here – some adventure, something mysterious or maybe something else, that I can’t put a name on. In the long term it seems to be very limiting and I feel that I can’t develop properly. I need diversity. When I sport climb for too long, I fell got stuck in a rut. When I climb in the mountains for too long, I start to feel tired and weary, it is related to all the background  – getting up early, hanging in positions and other uncomfortable things.

I like difficult multi-pitch routes but to beat them you must be a really good climber. I need to train really hard to be able to do these routes. So I say this: it’s time to go to the rocks and do some sport-climbing!


Did you have a special training during the spring or you climbed as usual ?

I was determined to train hard in the winter but it didn’t work out. I had other things in mind –  I come to conclusion that I need to sort out my professional life. I didn’t want to plan my training and don’t do it at 100% or be frustrated because I don’t have enough time. So I concentrated on enjoying the climbing and to train as much as I can. I keep in mind that during next winter I should work hard, according to the training schedule. I could really use some system and regularity.


How do you divide your time between climbing outside and on the wall?

Definitely I spend more time in the rocks. Until recently, nothing could forced me to climb indoors on beautiful sunny June day but lately it’s changed. Maybe because of the air conditioning in the Crown? [laugh]

Referring to the previous question – I climb indoors so rarely, that whatever I do there, gives a good effect in the rocks. A week before I did „Nie dla psa kiełbasa”, I was training at the climbing wall – first time since April – and as you can see it profited nicely.


Do you use any special diet when preparing to difficult routes?

I don’t have a special diet. I eat what I normally eat. I try to avoid sweets and bread but with different results. I also have my weaknesses – i.e. peanut butter in large quantities.


What do you eat in the rocks?

Usually I take food container with cottage cheese mixed with chia, oatmeal and fruits. Apart from that, I eat a lot of fruits, raisins and dried dates.


Are you going to climb in the Mammoth Cave?

I regularly climb there but without high expectations and spectacular results. I know that it will profit in the future, but as for now, I just go there for training, socializing and recreational purposes.


What are your plans for this season?

I’m going to the Alps Petit Clocher du Portalet and Kapucyn next week. What will be next? Hmm… that’s a good question. To be honest, I was expecting to do „Nie dla psa kiełbasa” in the Autumn, not now. Still I have some work to do on Pochylec and I think that I will visit Mammoth Cave more often. When I sort out new job, at the end of the year, I will go to Spain.


When we asked the daughter of Waldemar Podhajny “What does your father do, when he is watching TV?”, she said : “He does pull-ups”. What do you do in your free time?


Usually, if I’m not going anywhere, I spend a lot of time on climbing, working and learning. About a year ago I discovered programming and now it’s mainly what I do. In my free time I read books and meet with people who are important for me.


How many reps do you do on pull-up bar?

I have no idea. I’m doing a series of 10 repetitions. I never go for record. I don’t think I will ever do a proper one hand pull-ups.


What is your view on women’s climbing in Poland? In the west, there are many girls who do difficult routes. There is a group of good women climbers in Poland, but they are much ahead of the rest.

If I had to evaluate women’s climbing in Poland only based on the achievements of the girls around me, I would say that everyone does at least VI.5. I see strong girls and most of them are stronger than me. They don’t use their strength fully but I think that’s a matter of motivation and priorities. Of course I know that’s distorted view of Polish climbing, but seems to me that this group is not small.

Are we far away from the world? In my opinion it’s similar in most countries – there is always a group of women doing difficult sport climbing routes. I am pretty sure that some countries are better accommodated when it comes to competitions but it does not translate easily to sport climbing.


You are very versatile – sport, traditional, multi-pitch climbing. What about bouldering?

So it came to light that I’m not that versatile [laugh]. It is difficult for my to get into bouldering, I have already tried few times. I am not quite convinced to the idea of trying to climb big pieces of rocks. Besides I don’t like to mantle and jumping of the boulders. On the other hand, you should never say never, so maybe one day…


What is your favourite climbing region in Poland and abroad?

My favourite place in Poland is Pochylec. In Europe, I have a big sentiment to Siurana in Spain and I’m always happy to go back there.


What’s are your climbing weaknesses ?

I’ m not too strong. I could do with some more boulder strength.


Do you have problems with injuries?

For many years I didn’t have any injuries. It changed last year, when I started having problems with tendon sheaths in my fingers. Fortunately, it happened when I was preparing to go to Yosemite, where I planned to crack climbing mostly, so it wasn’t big problem. Whenever it was possible, I also climbed in Jura in Poland, carefully selecting the routes (i.e. “ Pierdolony Ogranicznik” turned out to be such route). At that time it wasn’t possible to do small edges on “Nie dla psa kiełbasa” so I climbed on “Power Playa”, which is more like warm-up route. My tries were quite advanced.

I was afraid, that when I go to Yosemite injuries will still be present. For a long time I had a “blockade” in my head when I was climbing edges. Even now, after more difficult routes I carefully check my fingers if everything is OK. There are some positives as well. I have learned my lesson and now I don’t use every small edge (as I did before) and I do respect my fingers more.


What about your other sporting activities? What do you do apart of climbing?

I ride a bike everywhere I can. Also, before going to the mountains, I run a lot, to have enough strength in approaches. I don’t have time for other things.


We’re sitting in Rodellar, next to your first 7c RP and I write your answers. How would you describe these 6 yeas between 7c and 8c?

The first years passed in the pursuit of being better and climb more than a year before. Each year there was new personal best, I was higher in ranks, endless checking of As soon as I did my first 7C,  I began to associate all my plans for the coming years with climbing. It was just before I started attending university in Kraków. While studying (plus two years of dean’s leave), I climbed really a lot, but at some point, it stopped making me happy. The reason might be the fact, that it was more and more difficult to constantly raise the bar and do more and more difficult routes. Or maybe it was just too much climbing, too many trips and all the routine. I also realized that I don’t want combine work with climbing cause it leads to burnout.  I distanced myself from the difficulty of the routes. My results in the rocks stopped affecting my well-being. Now, if I fall from VI.1, it only makes me laugh, not angry and I don’t think about what other people tell.

I am aware that I could beat many routes much faster (including “Nie dla psa kiełbasa”), if instead of going to the rocks, I trained more on the climbing wall. But would it make me more happy?

I don’t see the point to force myself to overcome difficult routes. This is the most important thing that I’ve learned in the years between 7c and 8c. My goal is not to get better in statistics, I climb because I like it and that makes me happy.

I don’t diminish the meaning of rivalry, as it helps you get motivated and to get beyond your limits. It also something that I especially like in climbing. I appreciate the beauty of movement, nature and people. It is something fantastic to try the thing that is at your limit, while being sure that you are able to do it. In such moment there isn’t any room in your head for anything else. It is a core of the moment. And you can feel it regardless of whether it is your first 7c or 8c.


What is your best OS ?

I did some 8 graded routes, but the most important OS for me is La Crema 7c+ in Siurana.


I am sure that many of your fans are waiting to hear the question on equipment that you use. So what exactly do you use?

For over a year I have been working with Climbing Technology.  For example I’ m a big fan of Climbing Technology Ascent harness. I can’t say a single bad word about it – it’s fully adjustable, lightweight, durable and very comfortable. I use it everywhere, both in the mountains and while sport climbing. In the case of quickdraws, when I am doing some RP routes, I always take CT Nimble Evo Set with me, as they are very handy and relatively light. I also like their colors. For OS routes, I always take CT Fly-Weight Evo Set XL. Why I decided to choose them? First of all, they are extremely light – you can forget that you have them on your harness. In this case you don’t have to worry and think if you should take few more or not. I prefer the model with17cm sling. Because of the same reasons I take them to climb in the mountains, the only difference is that this time I go for 22 cm sling.