High Tatras

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


The following text is not a stand alone article but 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 Chata pri Zelenom plese, and a short glimpse at the Belianske Tatry mountain range.

That article contains general information about the most popular tourist destination 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 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 Vysoká which is also a mountain in the High Tatras; vysoká (f) is an adjective actually and means “tall” or “high”, cf. Vysoké Tatry) 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 around 200 inhabitants located three kilometers westwards of Starý Smokovec at 1005 meters AMSL (Above Mean Sea Level; like part 1, every height stated below is AMSL).

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

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 reach it after around one hour), 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 in the High Tatras (2655 meters) and in the whole Carpathian mountain range.

However, the summit is not accessible for normal visitors without a certified mountain guide due to the grade of difficulty and due to nature protection laws.

Gerlachovský štít
Velická dolina (Gerlachovský štít, 2655 meters)

After leaving behind the Sliezsky Dom Hotel you hike 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, where the hiker can also marvel at the Velický vodopád cascade and the Večný dážď (“Eternal rain”) stone formations.

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 bizarre 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 noteworthy 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 pretty crowded throughout the high season, so one should be prepared to wait a few minutes before he can pass them or catch a good spot for taking a photo.

One must not miss the Rainerova chata near 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 small exposition of antique mountaineering and skiing equipment and dry his clothing at the fireplace inside this tiny but comfortable hut (there are no sleeping spaces like in the higher altitude refuges).

Inside Rainerova chata
Inside Rainerova chata, bells and antique mountaineering equipment

Photos by Agata Dukalska

Below are a couple of photos from fellow hikers I met in the refuge Chata pri Zelenom plese. Thanks for sharing them with me.

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 the Malá Studená dolina
Téryho chata (2015 meters) and the 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 also on my To-Do list.

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