Slovakia, October 2019
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With a break of about one month, I returned to Slovakia for hiking in the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) and to visit my friends in Bratislava.
My hiking-journey started in Poprad in north-eastern Slovakia, as it did in August.
The focus was this time on the western parts of the High Tatras (not to be confused with the “Western Tatras” which labels a different mountain range).
Kriváň , October 1
Kriváň (2494 meters AMSL), that got its name from its peculiar shape1, is the most famous mountain and a national symbol in Slovakia though it is not the highest peak in the Carpathians (Gerlachovský štít is higher with 2654 meters).
1 according to most sources
This mountain has such big popularity that it is even depicted on the Slovak Euro cent coins.
So any hiking adventure wouldn’t have been complete if I had had omitted this peak.
The weather was excellent on this first day of October.
Start (and finishing point) was the gorgeous Štrbské Pleso mountain lake, which is situated in a small town that bears the same name (1350 meters AMSL).
Here I followed the red marks on the first section of the trail (basically, red is the color for long distance trails; here it is the so-called Tatramagistrale which leads across the whole Tatra foothill).
At Jamské pleso I switched to the blue marked trailhead, where I started ascending the now steep mountain slopes.
On the peak (the ascent is exhausting but technically not overly difficult) one is rewarded with a magnificent view to Poland in the north and onto the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry) in the south.
For climbing down there had been the option to take the green marked path to Tri Studničky.
I walked the blue marked path back to Štrbské Pleso instead (green and blue marked trails generally connect red marked trails with further noteworthy spots).
Predné Solisko, October 2
Climbing this mountain (2093 or 2117 meters AMSL, depending on the source) was not very difficult and on the whole the tour took only about four hours.
Start and destination was again the train station in Štrbské pleso.
On my climb I had a rest at the comfortable Chata pod Soliskom refuge on 1840 meters AMSL. From there it is only one hour to the peak (red marked path).
Rysy, October 3
I started once more at the Štrbské pleso mountain lake on this third day, with the plan to conquer the popular Rysy.
The peaks of this mountain (the highest of three is 2503 meters AMSL, Rysy is a plural form actually) are located exactly on the border between Poland and Slovakia.
Rysy is the highest mountain in the High Tatras that is accessible for normal visitors without a certified mountain guide2, so there does exist a marked trail to the peak (which is red marked from the Nad Žabím potokom junction on).
2 at the same time Rysy is the highest mountain in Poland; climbing up from the Polish side is more difficult however – please always check the weather forecast before you set off for such a trip
Some sections of the trail are via ferrate, but even with a thin snow layer there exist no real technical difficulties.
The tour took me almost the entire day, but the reward was again a magnificent view from the summit and new-made friends in the Chata pod Rysmi (“cottage below Rysy”)3 on 2250 meters AMSL.
3 just for the case you are interested in Slovak grammar – pod entails instrumental case, and here we need the plural form
This refuge is the highest-located in Slovakia and quite small, but very inviting and comfortable (but better don’t use that lavatory).
During your tour you will perhaps encounter porters carrying supplies to the refuge occasionally, since there is no other way to feed the refuge (aside from helicopters).
Reaching the peak:
On my way down I noticed that some of the snow on the trail had already melted in the last couple of hours, due to the strong sun radiation on this day.
Skalnaté pleso, October 4
The last day I made a short tour of about four hours from Starý Smokovec to the Skalnaté pleso mountain lake, and back to Tatranská Lomnica.
On the way one can have a rest at the Rainerova chata, the oldest refuge in the High Tatras (built in 1863).
You will meet many hikers and sometimes wild animals there in all likelihood (I already mentioned this refuge in part 2).
The end of September and the beginning of October is probably the best time for hiking.
Sudden thunderstorms are less likely compared to the summer months. One doesn’t have to deal with sweltering heat. Accommodations are usually cheaper in autumn than in summer or winter (high season for skiing).
Disadvantages are fewer hours of sunlight and occasional snowfall.
The hiking season comes slowly but steadily to an end however. I hope you enjoyed this small article about Slovakia and the High Tatras, and I look forward new hiking experiences in the next year.
Featured image: Štrbské pleso (mountain lake)