Štrbské pleso, south bank

High Tatras, part 3 (Kriváň, Rysy, Štrbské pleso)

Table of contents

Introduction

Kriváň, October 1
Predné Solisko, October 2
Rysy, October 3
Skalnaté pleso, October 4

Conclusion

Introduction

With a break of about one month, I returned to Slovakia for hiking in the High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry) mountain range and to visit my friends in Bratislava.

Here you can find my two previous blog articles about my summer hikes:

1. Slavkovský štít, Zelené pleso (including general information about the High Tatras)
2. Východná Vysoká, Obrovský vodopád

My base camp for my hiking-journeys was Poprad in north-eastern Slovakia, as it was in August.

High Tatras

My focus was this time on the western parts of the High Tatras (not to be confused with the “Western Tatras” or Západné Tatry which labels a different mountain range), as opposed to my hiking tours in the summer.

Kriváň , October 1

The Kriváň mountain (2494 meters AMSL, i. e. Above Mean Sea Level; every height stated below is AMSL), denominated after its peculiar shape1, is the most famous in Slovakia and a national symbol even though it is not the highest summit in the Carpathians (Gerlachovský štít is the highest 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.

Štrbské pleso, south bank
Štrbské pleso, photo taken from the south bank (on the left you can recognize the distinctively shaped “Hotel Patria”)

The weather was excellent on this first day of October.

Start (and finishing point) was the gorgeous Štrbské pleso mountain lake (a glacial lake), which is situated in a small town that bears the same name (but with capital letter P, Štrbské Pleso).

From there (on 1350 meters) I followed the red marks westwards on the first section of the trail. Red is basically the color for long distance trails, and here the marks identify the so-called Tatramagistrale which leads across the whole Tatra foothill and connects the principal refuges.

At Jamské pleso, a small mountain lake (1447 meters) I turned northwards on the blue marked trailhead, where I started ascending the now steep and treeless mountain slopes, with the impressive Važecká dolina valley on my right hand side.

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.

Kriváň, Slovak double cross on the peak and a breathtaking view to Poland
Kriváň, Slovak double cross on the peak and a breathtaking view to Poland

For climbing down there had been the option to take the green marked path to Tri Studničky (“Three Wells”).

I walked the blue marked path back to Štrbské Pleso instead (green and blue marked trails generally connect the red marked long distance trails with further noteworthy spots).

Near Štrbské Pleso, heading back to the hotel after my tour
Near Štrbské Pleso, heading back to the hotel after my tour

Predné Solisko, October 2

Climbing up this mountain (height either 2093 or 2117 meters, 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.

Furkotská dolina, near Chata pod Soliskom
Furkotská dolina, near Chata pod Soliskom (“Cottage below Solisko”)

On my ascent I had a rest at the comfortable Chata pod Soliskom refuge on 1840 meters. From there it is only one hour to the peak (red marked path). Unfortunately I had not much sight because of the dense fog during this time of the day.

Predné Solisko stands roughly translated for “Leading Solisko”, most likely because it is the first peak of the Soliskový hrebeň crest.

The last or more precisely northernmost point of the crest is Veľké Solisko, which can only be ascended with a certified mountain guide.

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.

This mountain possesses three peaks (the highest of these is 2503 meters, Rysy is a plural form actually), straddling the border between Poland and Slovakia.

Rysy is the highest mountain in the High Tatras that is accessible for individual 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 likewise, Rysy is the highest mountain in Poland; climbing up from the Polish side is more difficult however and there is a severe avalanche threat during the winter months

Hiking trail to Rysy, mountain lake (Žabie plesá)
Hiking trail to Rysy, mountain lake (Veľké Žabie pleso Mengusovské, 1920 meters)

A few meters of the trail are via ferrata, but even with a thin layer of snow there exist no real technical difficulties.

Hiking trail to Rysy, mountain lake (Žabie plesá)
Hiking trail to Rysy, mountain lakes (Žabie plesá)

My tour took almost the entire day, but the reward was again a breathtaking view from the summit and new-made friends in the Chata pod Rysmi (“Cottage below Rysy”)3 on 2250 meters.

3 just for the case you are interested in Slovak grammar – pod entails instrumental case, and here we need the plural form: Rysy – Rysmi

This refuge is the highest-located in Slovakia and quite small, but very inviting and comfortable (but better avoid using that outdoor toilet).

During your tour you will probably encounter porters carrying supplies to the refuge, since there is no other way to resupply the refuge (aside from helicopters).

Chata pod Rysmi
Chata pod Rysmi (“Cottage below Rysy”), 2250 meters
Near the Váha mountain saddle
Near the Váha mountain saddle

Reaching the peak

Impressions from and near the peaks on 2500 meters:

Rysy, on the peak (view to Poland)
Rysy, on the peak (view to Poland)

On my way down I noticed that some of the snow on the trail had already melted in the past couple of hours, due to the strong sun radiation during the afternoon.

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 afterwards to Tatranská Lomnica (on a quite steep green marked trail).

On the way one can have a rest at the Rainerova chata (1300 meters), 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 described this refuge in part 2).

Skalnaté pleso, 1751 meters
Skalnaté pleso, 1751 meters

Skalnaté pleso (“Rocky mountain lake”) is situated below the southern precipice of Lomnický štít. This popular mountain (height 2634 meters) is accessible for normal visitors via cable car or alternatively a certified mountain guide.

Conclusion

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: The mountain lake Štrbské pleso