Sii Climbing Team is currently the second – after runners – the most numerous sports group in Sii Poland. It is joined by employees with extensive climbing experience as well as beginners, for whom the group leaders organized 2 climbing camps under Passion Sponsorship Program, attended by over 20 people from all over Poland. An intensive course, cave exploration, first aid training, bonfires – these are just some of the attractions that the enthusiasts could take advantage of thanks to the company’s support. The leaders previous events, Tomasz Herzog from Sii Katowice and Michał Tołczyżewski from Sii Lublin, talk about their passion for climbing and a unique method of integration for Sii Poland’s employees.
Tomek, you are the leader of one of the most dynamic local climbing groups – Sii Climbing Team in Katowice, but this is not your only passion. You have already conducted a project as part of Passion Sponsorship Program.
Tomasz Herzog, Software Engineer from Sii Katowice: It is true, I have a lot of interests that I can happily develop thanks to Sii’s support. I have been working in the company for over a year and a half as a Software Engineer at Embedded Competence Center: I am currently developing inverter software (VFD) for Rockwell Automation. I have known Sii’s cool approach to employees’ passions before, as together with my friends from Sii Katowice I was a beneficiary of Passion Sponsorship Program for the project “Sumorobot”, in which in which we constructed a robot for fights in robot competitions. We are currently testing the combat algorithms and waiting for the first clashes with other robots. Climbing is my another great passion and I also manage to develop it with the support of Sii.
How has your passion for climbing evolved?
T.H.: I’ve been working on this for years! I got hyped about it while still in the technical school – my classmate was in the climbing section of the University of Physical Education in Katowice and I decided to join them. The beginnings were quite tough, but I trained regularly, worked on rope techniques, and at some point I felt that I was ready to climb Jura rocks. In the meantime, I also became interested in exploring caves, so sometimes I climb and reach the peaks, and other times I go all the way down and admire beautiful rock formations. Then, I completed a course in industrial mountaineering and joined the ranks of the Katowice Speleological Club. And so the adventure with climbing, rope techniques and exploration of caves continues, with some breaks, to this day.
In addition, I still feel the desire and need to pass this interest on, to instill climbing in others. So when several people from Sii Katowice expressed their willingness to train regularly, I became the leader of the group and we are looking for opportunities to continue learning.
How does the Sii Climbing Team train in Katowice?
T.H.: Before the pandemic, we met regularly with a group of about 8 people at the Poziom 450 club in Sosnowiec. We also noticed the need to level the the expierence among beginners, as well as meet enthusiasts of this sport from other departments. At the end of last year, a winter climbing course was held for climbers from Sii and we envied its participants an amazing adventure and integration. Unfortunately, Covid forced a break, but we are back to regular training, and we made the camp happen! As part of Passion Sponsorship Program, in the third weekend of September we went with 16 people from various Sii branches for a weekend course.
Michał Tołczyżewski, IT Support Specialist from Sii Lublin: It was the same with our camp! I have been working at Sii since August 2017 in Service Desk Department. From October I am starting a new career adventure at Agile & Atlassian Competence Center as Administrator. From the very beginning, I watched how different interest groups were developing all over Poland. In 2019, I had the opportunity to privately climb one of the routes to Mnich in Tatra Mountains and then I felt this taste for it…
When I saw the video from the Sii Climbing Team winter course, I thought that it was worth trying my hand at Passion Sponsorship Program and climbing together with others, taking advantage of this unique Sii benefit. As part of the community of climbers, 5 people gathered across the company: Wiktoria from Sii Wrocław, Michał from Sii Łódź and a strong representation of Sii Lublin – Rafał, Tomasz and myself. In the same third weekend in September, we went on a 6-day rock climbing course to Kobylany in Jura. Almost a week of intense exercise allowed us to master climbing with bottom belaying on tracks with a difficulty of at least IV on the international scale of UIAA difficulty of rock routes. The whole group finished the course very satisfied and hungry for new sports challenges! We dream about Tatra Mountains and more demanding routes.
Tomek, your trip was shorter, but you have planned additional attractions for the participants.
T.H.: Yes, our course lasted from Friday to Sunday, but thanks to the funding, we managed to secure the group with climbing equipment, which was useful for us during the course, and we will also use it regularly for training on artificial walls. On September 18-20, 5 friends and 11 colleagues from Katowice, Warsaw, Łódź, Kraków, Bydgoszcz and Poznań came to Kroczyce-Podlesice in Jura. On the first day, apart from accommodation, we participated in first aid training conducted at the Mountain Rescuers Base by Adam van der Coghen, after which there was time for an integration bonfire. The next day, from the very morning, we climbed the rocks of Raszkowice. Beginners were looked after by licensed instructors of the Polish Mountaineering Association, while the rest climbed nearby, exchanging knowledge and experiences. We ended the day with a meeting with Piotr van der Coghen, who discussed some interesting cases from his professional career as a mountain rescuer, and then he and his wife hosted us at the Mountain Rescuers Base by a bonfire with roasted sausages and tea. On the last day, from the very morning, some people were climbing the rocks in Łutowiec under the supervision of instructors, and the rest went out with me to explore Jura caves. We admired sleeping and flying bats and a few spiders typical of those caves. Having gathered the opinions of the participants, I can say that the camp was successful – there was no shortage of emotions and challenges, and we definitely integrated ourselves.
What are the further plans for the development of the climbing group?
T.H.: During the camp, a lot of ideas for continuing climbing lessons emerged. Many participants became interested in cave exploration, so next year I would like to organize a course on cave rope techniques and cave exploration. The next step may also be to organize an advanced rock climbing course as a follow-up to this camp. We have ideas, so now we just need to organize ourselves, and owingto the support from Passion Sponsorship Program, we know that it is possible in Sii and we will strive together to achieve our goal. I also hope that there will be even more people in the company to share this fantastic passion with us.
As part of Passion Sponsorship Program, Sii Poland has been supporting employees’ sports, cultural and technological projects for years. Grants are awarded for technological projects (e.g. EVVA project), popular sports, such as running, but also for the development of passion for outstanding individual achievements, e.g. in freediving.