Tatra – Zakopane, Poland September 2009
We had a trip to the Tatras with Jane, Helen & Patrick this September. It was good fun but massively overcrowded. The Tatras aren’t as high or as rugged as the Alps, and so are less prone to snow hazards in late summer. They have something of a Lake District feel about them, but also a lot of limestone (highly polished and slippery as a fish). They do have the added excitement of some extensive “via ferrata ” type fixed equipment, the sections we encountered were all very easy and didn’t require any specialist equipment.
The mountain huts (shelters = “Schronisko”) could be massively over crowded. To ensure you get a bed (rather than sleeping on the floor), you should try to book hut spaces at least 6 months in advance, or your only other window of opportunity is in the week before you need them to try and get any spaces left from cancellations.
There is an excellent laminated 1:27k map of the area where the paths shown are colour coded to match the actual colours used to waymark the paths. This map also include timings four the routes. The timings were a little quirky – we tended to beat all the uphill times by around 45%, however with much slower down hill times, and occasional stops to eat, we invariably came in bang on time for the predicted total time for the route.
Day 1: Travel to Kuznice, Zakopane
Flew to Krakow, and took a taxi to Zakopane, then a horse & cart to Kuznice and finally walked up to the mountain hotel Kalatowki (1205m).
Day 2: Giewont (1895m)
Weather was a bit dubious in the morning, but once it cleared we did a circular walk taking in the popular local peak of Giewont (1895m) and returned to Kalatowki via for a second night.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1000+m; Decent 1000+m.
Day 3: Stara Roztoka Hut
From Kuznice, we went over the Wielka Kopa Krolowa (1531m) (“Blue route”) for lunch at Murowaniec Hut (1500m – very crowded) in Hala Gcsienicowa. But met some dubious weather around mid day, so we took a lower level route around to the Stara Rostoka Hut (1031m)
Walk Stats: Ascent 890m; Decent 1070m.
Day 4: Morskie Oko & Piec Stawow Hut
We did a circular walk taking in the Hut at Morskie Oko (1385m), visited a higher lake at Zabi Mnich (1583m) and then returned by a high col Swistowa Czuba (1763m) with refreshments at the Piec Stawow Hut (1670m). Then back to Stara Roztoka for a second night.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1200m; Decent 1130m.
Day 5: Piec Stawow Hut
Repeated some of the previous days route up to the Morskie Oko Hut (1385m) for elevenses, then took the “yellow route” up to the peak of Hruby Stit (2172m) and then down to the lakes of Staw Polski and a night at the Piec Stawow Hut(1670m). This was where we encountered the absolute hell of overcrowding; with people sleeping on any, and every, available horizontal surface. There must have been several hundred people crammed in with just a couple of toilets. We were SO very glad we had reserved a bed in advance.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1210m; Decent 570m.
Day 6: Svinica (2301m) & Kondratowa Hut
We continued on the “yellow route” to the major peak of Svinica (2301m). Lots of fun with fixed equipment and a lot of people stuck in traffic jams. We continued along the ridge to Kasprowy Wierch (1987m) for a cake, then further to the col east of Kopa Kondracka, finally dropping down to the Kondratowa Hut(1333m).
Helen and Jane had a close encounter with a wild Bear !
*Be warned – the Kondratowa Hut only does snack meals in the evening so two days staying there can lead to serious pizza cravings.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1015m; Decent 1340m.
A short circular walk nipping up Matolcczniak (2105m) and then back down for afternoon pizza. And a second night of borderline starvation back at the Kondratowa Hut.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1070m; Decent 1070m.
Had a day off to eat pizza in Zakopane.
Spent the night back at the Kalatowki hotel (where the food was bigger).
Day 9: Kasprowy Wierch (1987m)
We revisited the peak of Kasprowy Wierch (1987m) via another lunch at the Murowaniec Hut. The weather crapped out in the afternoon and so we escaped via the Cable Car, after a well earned cake in the Cafe at the top.
Walk Stats: Ascent 1070m; Decent 255m.
Day 10: Krakow
We had half a day looking round Krakow, and then got our plane home.
Author: Phil Newby