The hut in the Valley of Five Polish Lakes in the High Tatras is located at an altitude of 1,671 metres above sea level and is the highest situated mountain shelter in Poland. You can only reach it on foot, by mountain trails. As a reward for the hardships of climbing beyond the beautiful views, tourists can expect exceptional hospitality and a homely atmosphere, which the two sisters – Marta and Marychna – care for.
The hut has always been inscribed in our family tradition. The areas of the Valley of Five Polish Lakes belonged to our ancestors as sheep grazing halls. The first shelters were shepherd’s huts, meaning our great-grandfather had a shelter (laughter). Our dad, who took over our grandmother’s shelter, gave it to us, and we hope that one of our children will take it over one day.
We know that others are very important to you. This could be seen at the concert for refugees, free training in winter avalanche navigation and first aid training which you organise annually. Where do you get the energy for such intensive activities for the benefit of others?
Mainly from the mountains and nature, it is a very important aspect of our lives. The mountains are not only a workplace for us, but also an undying inspiration and a great love. We are very lucky, because in addition to energy and inspiration, we need a lot of support and simply need physical help (we have 6 children together), all of which our mum provides. Her incredible attitude and dedication make our actions possible. Mum was the person who brought us up in the spirit of empathy to others, and the sensitivity and recognition of needs is the beginning of every charity event.
The great initiative that you promote and which cannot be forgotten is the protection of the environment. You have created an ecological power system in the shelter due to which the facility functions as a ‘green island’ – you do not emit any fumes, you have a modern sewage treatment plant and waste segregation. Could you tell us what the inspiration was to undertake this difficult task?
First of all, we love nature very much and we wanted to minimize our nuisance to it. Secondly, we are in a strict nature reserve and we must remember that we are the guests here. Thirdly, our hostel is located in the most difficult place to reach in Poland, so if it is possible there, it can be done anywhere else (laughter). It’s an enormous portion of positive motivation for others! This investment is a continuation of the process that our grandma started 50 years ago by building the first tiny hydro power plant. Our efforts have been noticed and we are very proud to boast of the EKOLIDER of Lesser Poland award and Innovation Leader in environmental protection.
In order to meet the needs of tourists, 10 years ago, you created the 5 plus Mountain Academy. Could you bring us closer to the idea of the school and its tasks?
We have always been close to the topic of safety in the mountains, it hurt us a lot that some accidents could be avoided with minimal training and awareness of threats. The idea of the first avalanche courses, which were the beginning of the mountain school, came from Jasiek Wierzejski (Marta’s husband) over 10 years ago. It turned out that it was a hit, and at the moment the school runs several thematic courses on which tourists can learn how to safely walk in the mountains. Courses consist not only of field activities, but other important parts such as lectures conducted by our trainers – qualified TOPR rescuers, PZA instructors and IVBV guides. The main idea of the school is, first of all, to make people aware of the threat that is associated not only with sport in the mountains in summer and winter, but also with tourism, which is a more often practised form of activity in the Tatras. Due to the location in Five Lakes, we reach our stakeholders directly with our message (laughter).
You are a duet of supportive sisters who work together and pursue their passions. We know that you’re very close and also support each other in your private lives. How do you work together?
We are a very harmonious duet. Our cooperation is based on the limitless trust that we have and mutual understanding. We manage to function well because in addition to being business partners, we are also loving sisters and friends. In addition to work, we are just a family, we often spend time together – we go skiing, go on holiday or organize various actions and events, completely unrelated to our activity in Five Lakes.
Every woman is different, how is it in your case? Is the difference in characters an asset in your work?
Definitely yes, we are different. Fortunately we have the same vision and goals, due to which in our business relationship we use the synergy effect. For sure we would not be able to do as much as we can do together. Marta is a work titan, always obligatory and organized, definitely a humanist with a great love for art, very sensitive. Marychna – a strict, more determined mind, a task-orientated mind. Each of us does what we have better predispositions for and we always discuss important matters together. We are very lucky to be able to work together!
In short – the biggest!
Photos © Jan Wierzejski and Adam Brzoza