Miscellaneous infoThe team:
Peak climbed: Slavkovsky stit
Route: blue marked trail via SE Strbavy hreben ridge.
Date: 27th december 2006
Start time (resort Hrebienok): 11:55
Summit time: 14:20 (Miso); 14:35 (myself)
Begin descend: 15:05
Return to the resort Hrebienok: 16:40
Hrebienok elevation: 1289 m
Summit elevation: 2452 m
Round trip hiking distance: 15 kilometres (Miso); (13 kilometres (myself).
Elevation gain: 1163 metres (myself); 1442 metres (Miso).
What precededAt 8 o’clock in the morning of that beautiful day I still didn’t know that that day I was going to record my most serious winter hike to the date and my first real winter Tatras summit. I planned to summit Predne Solisko (2093 m) with my mum, sister and our friends later that day. We wanted to go there not in the morning, but quite later so that we could see the sunset. The true is that we saw the sunset, but actually not with my mother and sister and not at rather small Predne Solisko, but high at the Slavkovsky stit.
I was returning from the church at the morning of the 27th December and I wanted to see my friend Miso, so I called him if I may visit him. He responded that it would have been a pity to sit home during such a beautiful day and told me to visit him. He planned to go to Teryho chata (2015 m) chalet or to the chalet Zbojnicka chata (1960 m). I tried to persuade him to go to the Slavkovsky, but he argued that it was too late to go there that day. We agreed that we go, but weren’t sure where were we going. I had to go home, prepare get packed everything needed.
Miso caught the sooner train than I did, so we didn’t meet until both of us reached Hrebienok (1289 m), the starting point to many hikes. I used a funicular train from Stary Smokovec (1010 m) to Hrebienok despite it costs 130 slovak crowns (4 Euro). It was going in two minutes and I wanted to spare as much time as possible, so I took it. Miso and I met at the Hrebienok at about 11:45 a. m. that beautiful day, when there was only first grade of avalanche danger and we were to make a not exposed crest ascend where there usually occur hardly any avalanches.
The first winter summitI was some times at the summit of Predne Solisko in winter, but it is rather small, easily accessible and usually free from any obstacles. This is why I consider this summiting of Slavkovsky as my first winter summit. After all, that is the only summit in the High Tatras that is allowed to be hiked in the whole winter. Why do I write words "the whole winter"? Tatras national park officials announced that Slavkovsky stit is accessible also in winter unless there is a "snow cover".
It is ambiguous formulation and in the case of Slavkovsky is not very respected and makes no good for anybody except of those who hope to summit Slavkovsky legally in winter. Precondition for such a hope is low snow cover when the trail is often covered by snow only partly. As everybody knows, in Europe there is very little snow this winter to the date. Miso and I desired to summit Slavkovsky in winter for years. It is no surprise than that the last Christmas I had a huge temptation to attempt Slavkovsky. I was not sure whether that day was it allowed to go to the Slavkovsky, but I didn’t call to the national park officials and in the terrain there is no sign announcing the closure of the trail.
Slavkovsky has been believed to be the "first winter Tatras summit". Many Slovak young climbers and skialpinists were at the Slavkovsky for their first winter Tatras summit (excluding Predne Solisko). Slavkovsky is a good training summit for preparing of Slovak climbers to Himalaya expeditions. What is more, route to the Slavkovsky is free of any technical difficulties and the risk of avalanches is generally lesser than at any other summit and is thus the most easily reachable summit of the Tatras in winter. Everything mentioned lead to the fact that there is hardly any nice winter day when there is nobody at the summit of Slavkovsky. Slavkovsky is a Tatras winter classics. One example of the photo report from such a hike is here. And the other is here. It is no surprise because Slavkovsky was the first Tatras summit that was ever summited in winter. Eduard Blasy did it on the 15th January 1873.
The best photos of the trip
The hikeWhen reasoning about these things still at the Hrebienok, Miso again tried to persuade me to go to one of the chalets and pointed at his watches to show me that it was impossible to get back until it was to get dark. I responded that at the ways to the chalets there is greater risk of avalanches than at Slavkovsky and that we really could have caught it because we are quick hikers and that that would be great to be there near sunset. I am now a part-time telesales seller in a bank, so I also know how to make somebody do what I want him to do. He agreed and at 11:55 a. m. we started our quick ascend just up the steep ski slope without snow. I was the first and Miso second. I liked it. We knew what would await us, that it would be serious for us. Two things made it serious – snow and ice at the summit and time pressure. No words, no taking photos, just going.
Very nice view of the whole SE ridge of Slavkovsky hreben also with the treeless ski slope above the Hrebienok is here.
I like hikes when Miso is my only mate. Then there are no complaints, quick going and we know what to do in a risky or special situation and know what the other one thinks. Very soon we found ourselves at the ground elevation 1550 m called Slavkovska vyhliadka. We met there a girl with her grandmother. Slavkovska vyhliadka is the first place where the trail touches the SE ridge of the Slavkovsky. Due to the special curvation of the ridge it is impossible to see the summit of the Slavkovsky from the Slavkovska vyhliadka. There are beautiful views towards the Prostredny hrot (2440 m) and Lomnicky stit (2632 m), but we didn’t take photos because we both have got nice photos from that place from our past ascends and we were under time pressure, of course.
It was neat to meet such a couple up there. They didn’t go further, they just enjoyed the view and the nice day. It was quite warm and the snow was melting. I know my body’s thermoregulation so I put on only a special shirt. I was surprised that there was some snow also down on the ridge. From the bottom it looked like snow was only in the parts of the ridge higher than the ground elevation called Maximilianka (1858 m). The other thing surprised me a lot at the Slavkovska vyhliadka. This ridge is quite windy, but at the Slavkovska vyhliadka there were no signs of that that day. We spent there about a minute and immediately went further.
The trail in these places goes to the left side of the ridge in the SE slopes of the Slavkovsky not more than 200 meters away of the ridge. We saw tracks of some people and later we saw two boys without crampons – neither we had crampons – returning back from the summit. The going was not that easy as sometimes water in the tracks froze to make an ice. It was bothersome especially some steep parts with traversing snowfields also more than 10 meters long. At one place higher we met 3 other guys returning from the summit. Miso was leading and decided that it was too icy, so we used the fields of rocks right up to catch another curve of the trail some 20 meters higher. Miso took first photos of the hike from the place where trail reaches the ridge for the second time. For example he took the one of the Prostredny hrot.
Quite soon we found ourselves at the Maximilianka, the third place where the trail reaches the ridge. There is the first place on the route a few minutes before Maximilianka, from where you see the real summit of the Slavkovsky stit. There are some monticules of the ridge that may be considered to be the real summit and what makes the hike quite psychically arduous. There was quite fresher wind at the Maximilianka, but still very weak compared to what is usual on this ridge. For my body not to get cold, I changed my sweltered shirt for a top of ski clothes. My thermoregulation behaved as I expected so it was the last change of clothes that hike. From Maximilianka on the trail leads through the ridge or very near the ridge.
From now on there were open views to the magnificent peaks of Prostredny hrot and Lomnicky stit. Also Javorovy stit (2417 m), Ostry stit (2367 m) and Siroka veza (2461 m) with their S walls are absolutely wonderful from this ridge. Above the other visible valley there tower peaks Baranie rohy (2528 m) and Pysny stit (2628 m), and of course, the Lomnicky stit. From now till the summit I took all the photos (we had only one camera). This is the most important reason why from that place till the summit Miso lead us two. On some places he had to wait for me so that we could go together, but I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes by taking photos. Now I realized that I must somehow get into coincidence my passion for taking photos with building of the team spirit of ascenders. The true is that the light was perfect and the winter sceneries were absolutely wonderful. The passage from Maximilianka till the Slavkovsky Nos (2273 m), the last monticule in the ridge, was much more comfortably for going than the passage from the Slavkovska vyhliadka to the Maximilianka. There was hardly any snow there and many passages were free of any snow. This was really greatly enjoyable.
Just before the Nos Miso made a spot look on the watches and stated that at latest at the 2:30 p. m. we have to be on the summit. We had about half an hour to do it. Words of Miso made me very happy. From now on I was pretty sure nothing is going to stop us on our way to summit the Slavkovsky. Just after the Nos the trail crosses the wide couloir named Kralovsky zlab (The king’s couloir). It is often quite high risk of avalanches there, but not that day. For preventing the risk of avalanches it is possible to follow exactly the ridge and leave the trail before the Nos and join it again just above the Kralovsky zlab couloir. Just above the couloir I took some photos, but Miso waited me no more. He knew we can’t get lost here and that we will meet on the summit. It is not the first time on the Slavkovsky when that happened. During the ascend in the year 2002 was the problem my low ability to go so quickly as Miso. When I looked up the final slope of the 150 height meters, I was really amazed. I felt like a real mountaineer because I was to overcome it.
The snow conditions were really good, but in respect of the fact we didn’t have crampons we took it very serious. I had once a really serious problem with sliding 50 meters down the steep snowfield and in the Tatras on the small hill Hladky stit (2065 m), so I quite keep it in my mind. The experience enabled me recognize what are the snow conditions that allow me go further and what doesn’t allow me to go further. For example last november I knew I had go get back from the Taubenkogel (2300 m) in the Dachstein range. In the short down part there was a firn, but higher I made by every my step about 30 centimeters deep tracks. Under the fresher snow there was quite harder sort of snow, so it was very exhausting for me to concentrate all my energy for not get into the risk of slide. Three another guys were just returning from the summit with crampons and they looked like they are walking in their garden, not descenting final parts of Slavkovsky. At one place just before the end of the steepest part I found the stabile rock under snow to stand and rest. I rested about 10 minutes and concentrated for the last few meters. I knew I was going to complete it. After two or three minutes I found myself at the summit crest and started to greatly enjoy the atmosphere. For example a short spot look on the Javorovy stit in between the summit rocks of Slavkovsky made me want to tell that peak: Hey guy, a friend, look, I did it! In another minute Miso and I celebrated the summit.
Miso was there already 15 minutes. He did it from Hrebienok in 2:20. There were three other guys with crampons on the summit. I was pretty surprised that there was still a summit cross there. The national park officials announced by the magazine Tatry of the November 2006 that the summit crosses at the Sedielkova kopa and at the Slavkovsky stit were built without a permission of land officials. According the official message in the magazine crosses should have been destroyed. This is why it surprised me that the cross was still at the summit. I liked it because I think that crosses and mountains go together. We greatly enjoyed that view worth of gods, took photos - to the south, Gerlachovsky stit (2655 m) in the west, Javorovy stit in the north, Ladovy stit in the north and the Lomnicky stit in the east. During taking photos we looked as other guys left the summit and spent there some more minutes. We were the last people that day that found them on the summit of Slavkovsky. We didn’t even break for a meal and started descenting at 3:05 p. m.
Two words are apposite for the descent: quick and wonderful due to the beautiful sunset still high at the slope of the Slavkovsky. For the part of the descent after the sunset the only word fitting our reality is quick. We had no problems in descenting the final part from the summit to the Slavkovsky Nos. There we met Pavol Barabas, the famous Slovak film producer. He took some photos of the near sunset Lomnicky stit with his tripod, but didn’t go further than for the Nos. He is the director of the most of Slovak mountain films. We greeted each other and descented. Pavol Barabas was very quick and extremely careful in his descent. On some places he shortened the descent by leaving curves of the trail. It is clear he knows and loves our mountains. I was quite hungry, so I made a meal break despite the very short time of daylight we had. The meal encouraged me, so the last – really few seconds’ breaks – were for taking photos of Prostredny hrot and Lomnicky with last rays of sun. Some time after leaving Maximilianka there was a sunset and my last photo as well.
We were still very high and before us was very awkward part of the descent with snowfields to be descended by icy traverses. We were careful, but sometimes I slightly slided, nothing serious and dangerous. Twice my foot slided in these dangerous sides, but I secured myself by holding fast rocks by hands. It was getting darker, but the trail was still clearly visible. At the Slavkovska vyhliadka we didn’t stop even for a second. Then there was only the steep ski slope above the Hrebienok to be descended. Miso was the first, as through the whole descend and he quite suffered because of the pain in his knees. On the other hand I quite liked it. Yet above the slope I knew we were to catch it until it got dark. We finally found ourselves at the Hrebienok at 4:40 p. m. There we celebrated, got a celebrate beer and descended to Stary Smokovec by road that was partly covered by icy snow. The husband of Miso’s sister came there by car to pick us up back home to finish that fantastic day of my first really winter summit.