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A Polish Climber, Mountains and Addiction

Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Great nature has the power to captivate us.

It could be a big waterfall you see while hiking, a view from the top of a mountain, or a sunset you see while walking around your neighbourhood.

I want to see this scenery again.

I want to experience this again.

I think about it all day long and revisit this place.

In this blog, I will share the story of Tomek Mackiewicz, a Polish mountaineer who fell in love with climbing a mountain as much as we do.

Poland seems to have many famous climbers.

Why? There is a post on the Internet that jokingly replied, `Poland doesn't have a space station, and mountains are the most familiar and mysterious thing to people.''

In the midst of this, I learned about Tomasz Mackiewicz through my polish girlfriend who loves hiking and nature, and she had also walked the Camino de Santiago in the past.

As she grew up, she was fascinated by the world of mountains and hiking so she read many books about mountaineers, including Everest climbers. Among them, she shared Tomek's story.

Tomek is a mountaineer who fell in love with the winter summit of Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world.

Since his first attempt at Nanga in 2011, he has fallen in love with climbing the mountain and did try again and again.

He died while climbing in January 2018.

According to his partner, French climber Elizabeth, who was on the way to the summit with him at the time, he was no longer in a condition to come back alive after reaching the summit and on the way down.

*Nanga Parbat, commonly known as Killer Mountain, is a mountain with an altitude of 8,125 meters in the western Himalayas in the Kashmir region, a Pakistan-controlled area, which has caused so many victims.

Tomasz was not a person who had spent his life in contact with mountains since he was a child.

Born and raised in a small village of about 6,000, he could not find anything to devote himself to and became addicted to drugs.

It seems that his symptoms were so severe that he was taken care of by facilities such as the National Drug Addiction Support Center.

Tomasz told his own father at the time, 'I can't take this anymore.'

t was hiking and mountain climbing that saved him from such a drug addiction.

It may be more accurate to say that the mountain became his new addiction, rather than saving him.

Especially since his first winter ascent of Nanga, he tried to forget about it many times but he couldn't.

You can really see that in his interviews.

It seems that these were the last words he left before he passed this world.

I'm closer to God here. Out of fear. Death, disability, pain and suffering – says Tomasz Mackiewicz.

Tomasz's father, who knew Tomasz from his drug addiction days, replied:

This is a good picture of a man who has become addicted to something, which is a wonderful thing. Even if it was an escape from everyday life. Troubles. It was an escape into development. He came back with another man from the mountains. He had other relationships with people. He was calm, humble to life – says Witold Mackiewicz.

As you can see from this interview, mountains may have been a way for Tomasz to escape from everyday life. One of my favourite part from this interview is, 'He came back from the mountains as a different person. Every time he went, he made new friendships, and each time he came back from the mountains he became calm and humble.'

After all, both drugs and mountains were addictions that killed people.

However, I felt that the content of addiction to mountains may be a mysterious feeling and experience that many of us will never experience even if we spend our entire lives.

I have never done a life-threatening climb, nor do I want to. However, I have experienced being captivated by the beauty of nature many times.

Through this story, I have been reminded once again that the great spiritual power of mountains which has the power to captivate people.

Also, I often hear that people have successfully quit smoking by encountering new addictions, such as running and muscle training, in addition to hiking and mountain climbing. I also felt that the power of these movements is as great as nature.


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