Blind since he was a child, Dawid Gwoździk has reached The Breithorn.
Reaching the summit of a high mountain is always a big triumph for any climber, but for Dawid Gwoździk, the accomplishment is even more impressive. That is because he is blind. Over the years, he discovered a certain sense of freedom through hiking. A few years ago, he decided to reach a summit with more than 4,000 metres of elevation. A good mentor was needed. They met in 2018, not knowing much about each other. After one day, Artur Zwatrzko, the International Mountain Leader, knew how much effort and work were needed to make dreams come true. They spent many weeks together learning outdoor skills.
It is not easy to teach someone how to climb when the person cannot see the rock and the ground in front of us. We spent the first day on a big mountain in Poland. I wanted to see how we walked in more technical terrain, how he moved in deep snow with crampons on. That day I realized that the goal was a challenge. We had to create our own way of learning. We had to learn from each other. Every new situation was a big lesson for both of us.Artur Zwatrzko
During the hiking, Dawid is able to navigate himself by sound and by touch. Usually, he is using two trekking poles to feel his route. On the mountain, Artur walks in front of him, so he can hear the crampons crunching in the snow. Also, the climbers rope themselves together to make sure that Dawid follows Artur. While climbing, Dawid needs much more energy to hold the balance, especially in the deep and melting snow. It was challenging for both of them to adjust to new requirements, to manage the new style of hiking.
In 2018 they tried to reach The Breithorn but stopped at 3,830m. Although there was a lot of flailing and struggle in those early days, it was such a good experience. They faced many problems and new situations together. Thanks to that experience, they were able to learn that lesson and focus on the next expedition.
Finally, one year later, we reached the summit! I am so proud of myself, of my hard work. Last meters were challenging, it was a proper fight with a mountain and myself. I knew that I needed to prove that I was good enough and I am!Dawid Gwoździk
I do not treat him as a blind person. We have a deal that even though he is not able to see anything, I can show him everything. He knows so much about climbing equipment, he learns by touch, also his memory and senses are just amazing. Thanks to him, we are able to move our limits.