High Tatras

High Tatras, part 2 (Východná Vysoká, Obrovský vodopád)

Note

The following text is the direct continuation of part 1 of my High Tatras series.

High Tatras

I hiked in the central part of the High Tatras still and departed from the train station in Poprad-Tatry early in the morning by using the inexpensive meter-gauge railway connection (Tatranské Elektrické Železnice, TEŽ).

Východná Vysoká, August 15

Ascending Východná Vysoká (not to be confused with Vysoká3 which is a different mountain in the High Tatras) was by far the most demanding tour during my week in the High Tatras.

I set off at the green marked trailhead at the train station in Tatranská Polianka (1005 meters AMSL, i.e. Above Mean Sea Level; every height stated below is AMSL), a village with about two hundred inhabitants located three kilometers westwards of Starý Smokovec.

Excluding breaks, it took me four hours to ascend Východná Vysoká (2429 meters) and to enjoy a breathtaking view from the “Eastern Peak”.

3 vysoká (f) is an adjective actually and means “tall” or “high”; cf. Vysoké Tatry, see footnote 1

Near Na Velickom moste, and near the actual starting point (Tatranská Polianka)
Near Na Velickom moste, and near the actual starting point (Tatranská Polianka)

Velická dolina, which you have to cross for the ascent (you enter it after around one and a half hours), is one of the most visited and easiest accessible valleys in the High Tatras.

At the valley entrance in the proximity of the Sliezsky Dom Hotel (“Silesian House”, the hotel is situated next to the Velické pleso mountain lake on 1670 meters, where the hiker also comes upon the junction to the Tatramagistrale or Tatranská Magistrála) there exist several unmarked paths to Gerlachovský štít, the highest mountain (2655 meters) in the High Tatras and in the entire Carpathian mountain range.

However, steering for the summit is neither feasible nor permitted for a normal visitor without a certified mountain guide due to the grade of difficulty and (evidently) due to nature protection laws.

Velická dolina (left: Gerlachovský štít; right: Zadný Gerlach)
Velická dolina (left: Gerlachovský štít; right: Zadný Gerlach)

After leaving behind the Sliezsky Dom Hotel you proceed through an exceptionally pretty part of the trail, called Kvetnica (kvet is the Slovak word for flower).

More exactly, it is the part between the mountain lakes Velické and Dlhé pleso (1939 meters), where you pass the Velický vodopád cascade and the Večný dážď (“Eternal rain”) stone formations. For me a new and delightful sight to behold.

Near sedlo Poľský hrebeň (2200 meters), view westwards onto Zamrznuté pleso ("Frozen mountain lake")
Near sedlo Poľský hrebeň (2200 meters), view westwards onto Zamrznuté pleso (“Frozen mountain lake”); as the name suggests, this lake is usually frozen solid

From sedlo Poľský hrebeň on (you can translate it roughly with “Polish mountain crest”) at 2200 meters, you have to negotiate the strenuous remainder of the ascent to Východná Vysoká though there are no via ferratas to traverse.

But it is quite steep and the mossy granite boulders loose lying all over the place render it difficult and time-consuming to push forward.

After a short break on the peak I descended on the same way I had been climbing up (the green marked path), but from Velická poľana on I followed the yellow marks to the train station in Nový Smokovec.

Obrovský vodopád, August 16

After three exhausting days of hiking I decided to make a comparatively short tour to some of the big cascades in the vicinity of the Hrebienok spa (“Little ridge”, 1285 meters).

Starting point was the train station in Tatranská Lesná two kilometers westwards of Tatranská Lomnica, finishing point was again Starý Smokovec.

The trail I had chosen is popular, easily accessible, and not very challenging to hike (at first yellow, later green marked path). The first section of the way leads you alongside Studený potok (“Cold stream”).

Cascade near Rainerova chata (vodopády studeného potoka)
Cascade near Rainerova chata (vodopády studeného potoka)

The bridges and view points at the cascades seem to be fairly crowded throughout the high season, so you should be prepared to wait a couple of minutes before catching a good spot for taking a photo.

You must not miss the Rainerova chata close to the Obrovský vodopád (voda: water, pád: fall) cascade, a refuge (or hut, more precisely) built in 1863 and named after his builder Johann Georg Rainer. It is the oldest structure of its kind in the High Tatras mountain range.

Inside Rainerova chata (1301 meters), on display bells and antique mountaineering equipment
Inside Rainerova chata (1301 meters), on display bells and antique mountaineering equipment

Apart from buying snacks and beverages you can take a look at an exposition of antique mountaineering and skiing equipment and dry your attire at the fireplace inside this small but comfortable hut (but there exist no sleeping spaces like in the higher altitude refuges).

Conclusion

High Tatras panorama view, Malá Studená dolina (“Small Cold valley”)
High Tatras panorama view, Malá Studená dolina (“Small Cold valley”); photo by Agata Dukalska

I spent the weekend in the capital of Slovakia, relaxing, and meeting some of my Slovak friends.

Unfortunately one and a half days is by far not enough to do all the activities I would like to do in Bratislava.

So I am looking forward to my next vacation in Slovakia, where the western parts of the High Tatras (the famous Kriváň, for example) and the Fatra mountains are on my must-see list.

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