High Tatras

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


The following text is the direct continuation of part 1 of my High Tatras series: ascending Slavkovský štít and Veľká Svišťovka, visiting the Zelené pleso mountain lake and the cottage Chata pri Zelenom plese, and a short glimpse at the Belianske Tatry mountain range.

That article provides general information about one of the most popular tourist destinations in Slovakia as well.

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 started hiking on the green marked path with its trailhead at the train station in Tatranská Polianka, a village with about 200 inhabitants located three kilometers westwards of Starý Smokovec at 1005 meters AMSL (Above Mean Sea Level; every height stated below is AMSL).

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

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

Near Na Velickom moste, and near the starting point of my tour (Tatranská Polianka)
Near Na Velickom moste, and near the starting point of my tour (Tatranská Polianka)

Velická dolina, which one has 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 green marked trail and the Velické pleso mountain lake on 1670 meters, where there is also 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 with a heigth of 2655 meters; 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 the hiker passes 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 (Zamrznuté pleso)
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 although there are no via ferratas to traverse. But it is quite steep and the mossy granite boulders loose lying all over the place make 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 hiking tour to some of the big cascades in the vicinity of Hrebienok (“Little ridge”), a well-known spa on 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 overly difficult to hike (at first yellow, later green marked path). The first part of the way leads one alongside the stream Studený potok (“Cold stream”).

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

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

One 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 chata in the High Tatras mountain range.

Aside from buying food and beverage supplies one can take a look at a exposition of antique mountaineering and skiing equipment and dry his clothing at the fireplace inside this small but comfortable hut (but there exist no sleeping spaces like in the higher altitude refuges).

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

Photos by Agata Dukalska

Below a few photos from fellow hikers I met in the refuge Chata pri Zelenom plese. Thanks for sharing them.

High Tatras panorama view, Malá Studená dolina ("Small Cold valley")
High Tatras panorama view, Malá Studená dolina (“Small Cold valley”)
Téryho chata (2015 meters) and Malá Studená dolina
Téryho chata (2015 meters) and Malá Studená dolina

Bratislava, August 17

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.

So I look 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.

Featured image: Malá Studená dolina (“Small Cold valley”)