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Caving organizations in Poland

Agnieszka Gajewska Speleoklub Warszawski

Poland is primarily a flat and lowland country. The percentage share of mountains compared to alpine countries is very low so the interest in mountains and the potential for exploration are not as good as in case of Austria, France or Italy. Speleology itself in Poland is also not a widespread branch of science, sport discipline or a form of recreation.

The start of cave exploration goes back far in the history, however as a consciens science or exploration of subterranean passages started at the end of the l9th century. The first initial stage of intensification began in the nineteen twenties, but the major development did not come till the fifties. At that time a large amount of clubs were created and majority of karst areas in Poland were well explored. When that happened Polish cavers directed their attention towards other karst regions around the world and this yielded major achievements in cave exploration outside Poland with majority of the attention directed towards the Alps. Unfortunately due to financial and organizational difficulties Polish cavers rarely went outside Europe.

Some people are interested in caving just as a pure recreation, others prefer vertical caving, cave climbing, cave diving, cave photography. Moreover, what many caverns value most, is exploration in Poland and in foreign countries.

Everybody interested may become a cavers in Poland. All one has to do is: be over 18 years old, be in good health condition, and finish a caving training course. During the training students learn the techniques of vertical caving, the safety rules in mountains during winter and summer, basic climbing skills and general knowledge in geology, topography, cartography and first aid. After finishing the course the graduates receive caving licence which allows them to receive cave entry permits from local authorities and National Park officials.

Polish cavers are associated in caving clubs. In order to become a member you need not have a caving licence, but just being a member is not sufficient enough to go freely caving. The number of people in the clubs may be anything from few to over two hundred. Being a member does not oblige anybody to active caving and is only a way of being associated with the caving community. The exact number of clubs members is not known because it changes every year, the closest estimate would be around 800 people in 22 caving clubs. Some clubs exist for over forty years and others are very young. Every year one new club is created and in the same time one stops to exist or becomes inactive.

Climbing and caving clubs in Poland are united in the Polish Mountaineering Association (PZA), which is the member of the UIAA and the UIS. The PZA is represented by a management board which is elected every three years by the representatives of all the member clubs. The primary function of the PZA is the representation of the interests of the movement, setting the overall guidelines for caving and climbing activities in Polish mountains, supervising the training and safety. The PZA also had funds available which are used to support initiatives such as expeditions, training seminars, and bulletins. Despite financing available from the PZA the main way in which the clubs fund their activities are membership dues.

Within the PZA there is a Caving Commission which is also represented by the Management Board which is elekted by the representatives of member clubs. Its main objectives are representing the caving community and defending its interests on the PZA forum, training the caving instructors, coordinating the inter club activities and maintaining relations with Polish and international speleological organizations.

It is worth mentioning that besides the PZA, which is the sport organization, there is Sekcja Speleologiczna Polskiego Towarzystwa Przyrodnikow (Speleological Section of Polish Naturalists Society). Its members can be not only scientists researching karst and speleological problems but all people who are interested in this questions. Some caving clubs associating mainly students as their members (e.g. Akademicki Klub Grotolazow AGH) are united in Federacja Akademickich Klubow Speleologicznych (FAKS).

Addresses of the Polish caving organizations

Polski Zwiazek Alpinizmu (Polish Mountaineering Association)
Komisja Taternictwa Jaskiniowego (Caving Commission), ul. Ciolka 17, 01-445 Warszawa

Sekcja Taternictwa Jaskiniowego KW Krakow, ul. Dluga 34/8, 31-146 Krakow Sekcja Taternictwa Jaskiniowego KW Warszawa, ul. Chelmska 31/22, 00-724 Warszawa, tel. (22) 4147-27 Speleoklub Czestochowa c/o Marcin Zamorski, ul Witosa 5/17, 42-200 Czestochowa, tel. (34)62-67-50 Speleoklub Warszawski, ul. Bartoszka 2/40, 00-710 Warszawa, tel. (22)4220-49 Akademicki Klub Grotolazow AGH, ul. Gramatyka Sa, 30-071 Krakow Speleoklub Tatrzanski, ul Sabaly 4, 34-500 Zakopane Sadecki Klub Taternictwa Jaskiniowego c/o Anna Antkiewicz, ul. Szujskiego 11 B, 33-300 Nowy Sacz, tel. (18)43-85-27 Tarnogorski Klub Taternictwa Jaskiniowego c/o Grzegorz Matusik, ul. Szwedzka 8a/6, 42-612 Tarnowskie Gory, tel. (32)185-10-07 (office) Speleoklub Dabrowa Gornicza, ul. Majakowskiego 9, 41-300 Dabrowa Gornicza, tel. (32) 162-27-30 Sekcja Grotolazow Wroclaw c/o Olgierd Jokiel, ul. Petreca 9/8, 53-443 Wroclaw Wielkopolski Klub Taternictwa Jaskiniowego, os. Pod Lipami 15/48, 61-638 Poznan, tel. (61 ) 23-11-92 Klub Taterniciwa Jaskiniowego - Speleoklub Bielsko-Biala, ul.11 Listopada 10, 43-300 Bielsko-Biala, tel. (33) 12-65-66 Klub Speleologiczny "Aven" Sosnowiec c/o Waldemar Mucha, ul. Radockiego 218/10, 40-645 Katowice Speleoklub "Bobry" Zagan, ul. Rynek 11 p.o. box 90, 68-100 Zagan; Krakowski Klub Taternictwa Jaskiniowego, ul. Kurasia boczna 1/1, 30-603 Krakow Katowicki Klub Speleologiczny c/o Marian Zagórny, ul. Wróblewskiego 73/54, 41-106 Siemianowice Slaskie, tel. (32)12-84-7951 Speleoklub Gliwice, ul. Paderewskiego 1/17, 41-710 Ruda Slaska Speleclub Wroclaw, ul. Pochyla 16/6, 50-012 Wroclaw Speleoklub Swietokrzyski, ul. Mickiewicza 1/14, 25-352 Kielce Speleoklub Olkusz, Rynek 19, 32-300 Olkusz, tel./fax (35) 43-42-27 Sopocki Klub Taternictwa Jaskiniowego PTTK ul. Bohaterow Monte Cassino 49/2 81-767 Sopot Speleoklub "Gawra" Gorzow Wielkopolski, ul. Wyszynskiego 12, 66-400 Gorzow Wielkopolski, tel. (601) 75-56-67
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