Sunday, January 31, 2010

31/365: The Góra Kamieńsk ski slope

31/365: The Góra Kamieńsk ski slope
January 31st

Today was considerably more exciting than yesterday! Thanks to the spontaneity of a few adventurous friends with access to a van, I ended up on a ski slope. The surprising thing about this is we live on flat land- there are a few mounds and solitary hills scattered here and there, but nothing to be too proud of. And here, just 40 miles out of the city of Lodz, we find a proper ski slope.

The Kamieńsk Mountain (Góra Kamieńsk) is a ski slope set up on the largest elevation in central Poland, an artificial mountain which was the byproduct of nearby lignite or brown coal mining. The mound began piling up in 1977 and finally reached 1266 feet above sea level in 1993. The terrain has been reclaimed for nature by planting a forest and reintroducing widlife- it is now part of a park complex. There is a wind power plant at the top with fifteen turbines:


Turbines

but the northwestern view is of the massive Bełchatów power plant which the lignite mine supplies with fuel:


Kamieńsk Mountain


Bełchatów Power Plant at sunset


The plant happens to be the biggest thermal power station in Europe, and since its two exhaust chimneys are almost a thousand feet tall, it's no wonder they are visible for miles around. The less glamorous statistic is its 2009 title of the biggest carbon polluter in the European Union.

The slope works year round and has artificial snow machines, but during winters like this they're not at all necessary. I know nothing about winter sports- I tried skiing once when I was ten, so my slate is practically clean. This time everyone decided to rent snowboards, and I didn't want to be stuck trying to ski all by my lonesome.

Now I am sore all over and I am not entirely sure my knees will work tomorrow, but I had the best time, even though I'm sure I looked like a fool.


People having fun.

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