I am always restless, it’s not really about the inspiration to go places. It’s more like a need, a desire! Going to places recharges my batteries, it keeps me alive.
Most of the people that Lucian knows are satisfied if they just go to a cottage at the end of the week or ride their bicycle in the forest. He finds this boring. When a long period of time passes without any trips or adventures, he feels like he is blending in with the majority. He doesn’t like the feeling of numbness and uselessness. Lucian prefers to do more extreme activities that are not necessarily accessible to everyone. He prefers to avoid popular destinations.
“As a kid, I loved the sea, because I hadn’t discovered the mountains at that age,” Lucian says. “Now I equally love the mountains and the sea. Usually, I like to do things that are out of reach of other people. If the coolest, most beautiful place on Earth were within everyone’s reach and always highly populated, I probably wouldn’t go there.”
Rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, alpine climbing, and bike riding are among Lucian’s favorite activities. He got into these gradually, but he always wanted to do more than he and those around him were doing. Motorcycle riding was the beginning of his real adventures. It was the moment he discovered that he could go as far as he wanted to on a 200 kg machine.
“As for mountaineering, I think it got triggered slowly,” Lucian explains. “I went to the Carpathians in Romania and I wanted more. I went to the High Tatras in Slovakia, the Australian Alps, and the Swiss Alps, and I still want more.”
Not all of Lucian’s adventures are all fun and games. One time, he was camping with a friend on the top of the Czech Republic’s highest peak, Sněžka (1603 meters). It was a chilly January weekend with lots of snow. Their plan was to climb up on Saturday and find a nice place to pitch a tent right below the peak. They then panned to go up to the peak on Sunday and return home on the same day. Lucian had previously done this in the summer when the mountain is friendly, with gentle slopes. He didn’t expect going up and down to take more than six hours. Then on Saturday night, a vicious blizzard started.
“My mistake was underestimating a mountain that I knew very well, and not checking the forecast,” Lucian explains, “It was everywhere on the news that a storm would break over the whole country, with strong winds at high altitude, but hey, lesson learned.”
By the morning, the wind was blowing at 80 kilometers per hour, and there was no visibility. Everything was white. The original plan was to wait out the storm in the tent, as they had enough food and good equipment. Unfortunately, their tent was not high quality and at about 7 AM on Sunday morning it broke apart, letting snow in. It was only a matter of time until Lucian and his friend were completely exposed to the elements. They tried to go over to a cabin that was no further than half a kilometer away, but since neither of them had goggles, they got completely lost.
“We went back to the tent, which was almost flat to the ground by that time,” Lucian recalls. “We crawled inside it and decided to call the mountain rescue. Covered in shame, but with no frozen parts of our bodies, we made it to the cabin. Soon four Polish mountain rescuers came on two snowmobiles to help us.”
There is no shortage of destinations, just limited time!
When picking what mountains to climb, Lucian considers a combination of beauty, difficulty, and accessibility. He browses pictures, watches people’s videos, and reads articles to discover the best spots. Many of the mountains he hopes to visit in the future are really far away.
“One time I went on a motorcycle trip from Prague to Piraeus, Greece,” Lucian says. “From there, I took a seven-hour ferry trip to the beautiful island of Naxos. It was a real adventure to get on the island, because it was during Zorba, a big storm that affected Greece and the Aegean Sea.”
It took Lucian three days to travel 2,000 kilometers to reach Piraeus. Lucian’s initial plan was to go to a different island, but two ferries got canceled because of the rough seas. The seven-hour journey on the tumultuous sea was an adventure in its own right. Chairs and tables were sliding up and down the deck. Lucian realized how serious it was when the captain asked over the speakers if there was a doctor on board to help someone. Finally, he reached the island at 1 AM with no food, no accommodation and a raging storm with strong winds and rain.
“Everything was closed, so I just kept my leather clothes on and found some shelter under a balcony until hotels opened in the morning.” Lucian says, “I ended up spending six days there, and it was an amazing time. It was like a reward for making it through the storm.”
It took Lucian another three days and 2,000 kilometers to return to Prague. Another time, Lucian traveled to Southern Spain from Prague. He traveled 2,500 kilometers in just four days and camped on the beach. On the return journey he traveled through France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. It was an approximately 5,000 kilometer long trip.
“On all my motorcycle travels, no matter how tight my schedule is, I find time to visit interesting places,” Lucian explains. “I go sightseeing in the city centers and places of interest, I try local food, and I meet local people. It is true what they say, it is not only the destination that matters, but the journey itself.”
Overcoming Bad Experiences
This past winter, Lucian went ice climbing for the second time in his life. He found a spot in a forest in Austria and began the climb. But he made a mistake and ended up taking a 10 meter fall! Luckily, the rope caught him right before he reached the ground. It was a lead climb, and one of his axes remained stuck up in the icy wall.
“So, what I did after the fall,” Lucian says, “was I made sure that I wasn’t injured and pulled myself together. Then I went to get the axe, continued the climb, and reached the top. Taking the fall, which was not a pleasant experience, didn’t shake my confidence and didn’t make me stop. I figured out what I did wrong in the first place, and it was a valuable experience.”
Lucian’s rule of thumb is that if he’s fine, with no serious injury, then everything is okay and he can carry on. As long as he is physically able to do the things he wants, he will do them. Lucian believes that life is made of experiences, some awesome, some good, some bad, and some awful.
“I have learned lots of things from all my experiences, especially the bad ones.” Lucian says. “There is no learning without failing.”
Necessary Skills and Precautions
To prepare himself for his adventures, Lucian makes sure to stay in shape. He does indoor climbing, which has prepared him for the rock climbing necessary to take on mountains. Having more experiences is also good, because you will make small mistakes that you can learn from. You can also learn from other people who are traveling and from watching YouTube videos.
“I would not say that I’m particularly skillful in anything,” Lucian says, “I just like to keep in shape, and I have a lot of common sense. Although many of my friends would disagree about the latter.”
When it comes to motorbiking, Lucian makes sure to always pay attention and tries to learn from his mistakes. He slowly pushes himself beyond his comfort zone and puts himself in new situations. Then he learns from them. He believes that most experiences come from doing things and experiencing stuff.
“I like to push hard to achieve my goals, but I also know when I have bitten off more than I can chew,” Lucian says. “In the mountains, the weather can change drastically in minutes. Nice, sunny weather can turn into a blizzard just like that. One should know when it’s time to stop and go back. The mountains will be there longer than anyone will live, so there’s no point in taking unnecessary risks.”
Before going to a new place, reading about it helps to stay safe. Find out how accessible it is, what to expect from the approach and the difficulty of the climb. It is also important to check the forecast, unless getting rescued on snowmobiles is on your bucket list.
“I don’t like to advise people because I don’t think I’m experienced enough for that,” Lucian says. “But I would say, do whatever you want to do, do the things that make you happy, no matter what others are doing. Don’t follow the crowd just because it’s trendy, go wherever you want to go. Don’t wait for other people to make a trip happen and don’t be afraid to travel alone.”
Rather than having a house full of assets, it’s better to have a mind full of memories.
Lucian warns that over the years, you will regret the things you didn’t do way more than the things you’ve done. He believes that time is the most valuable asset we have, and once gone, we cannot get it back. It is important to make the most of our lives.
There are still many adventures that Lucian hopes to embark on in the future. This includes bungee jumping over a river, climbing Matterhorn, Eiger, the North Face of Grossglockner, the Himalayas and the Andes. He also wants to take a motorcycle trip and go as far east as he can reach.
“There are just some,” Lucian says, “But who knows what will come next!”
Photos: From the Archive of Lucian
Read more on adventure tourism from the author.