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Overview


The Veľká Fatra mountains lie just south of the Krivánska Fatra, i.e. the highest part of the Malá Fatra mountains, which extend north of the Váh River. The adjectives 'veľká' and 'malá' translate as 'great' and 'little' respectively. The Veľká Fatra is over a hundred metres lower than the Malá Fatra, but it covers a larger area, resembling a rectangle around 40x20 km, its longer axis running SSW to NNE. The other ranges adjacent to the Veľká Fatra are the Chočské vrchy to the northeast, the Nízke Tatry (Low Tatras) to the east, the Starohorské vrchy to the southeast and the Kremnické vrchy to the south. In the west, the Veľká Fatra borders Turčianska kotlina (Turiec Basin). Thanks to being surrounded by three mountain ranges which are a little higher, the Veľká Fatra is not packed with hikers even in summer. In fact, you are more likely to run into a bear than crowds here. With their impenetrable forests, lush meadows, extensive views, varying geology and old shepherds' huts serving as shelters, the mountains - especially their southern part - are ideal for trekking.

Velka Fatra
Heading south - for the Hôľna Fatra


Like most other mountain ranges inside the Northwestern Carpathians, the Veľká Fatra has a crystalline foundation covered by sedimentary rocks, primarily limestone and dolomite which give rise to rugged relief, but also marl, sandstone,conglomerate, flint and others. Most of these sediments belongs in either the Choč nappe or the Krížna nappe. The exposed part of the crystalline core (granite and schists) - compared to the neighbouring Carpathian ranges - is relatively small and found near Smrekovica (1530 m). Rather surprisingly, most of the highest summits, namely Ostredok at 1596 m, Frčkov at 1585 m, Krížna at 1574 m, marred by a radio mast, and Ploská (literally Flat) at 1532 m are formed of marls, which results in very gentle relief.

Hôľna Fatra
The highest chunk of the Hôľna Fatra


Main Ridge


In the south of the Veľká Fatra, between Krížna and Ploská, its main ridge trends at first south-north, then northeast, for about 7 km. This is the highest swath of the mountains, known as the Hôľna Fatra. The Slovak adjective ‘holý’ has nothing to do with the English ‘holy’ but translates as bald/bare, ‘hoľa’ means an alpine meadow and ‘hôľna’ means ‘made up of alpine meadows’. The Hôľna Fatra used to be extensively grazed, which caused the treeline to drop to less than 1300 m. The range was not glaciated in the Ice Age, only large nival niches are to be found at valley heads near the highest summits. Since the upper zone of trees made way for grassland a few centuries ago, the Holná Fatra has been infamous for avalanches.



At the summit of Ploská, the main ridge of the Veľká Fatra forks, divided by the valley of the Ľubochnianka (Ľubochnianska dolina), which is the longest mountain valley in Slovakia, extending almost straight north for around 25 km. The higher branch of the main ridge, still bearing the name of Holná Fatra, is also referred to as the Liptov Ridge (Liptovský hrebeň). It runs northeast and sports pretty summits such as Čierny kameň at 1479 m (formed of limestone and dolomite, with a swath of extant upper montane and dwarf pine zones) and conical Rakytov at 1579 m. The lower, western branch of the main ridge, called the Turiec Ridge (Turčiansky hrebeň) does not exceed 1400 m in elevation, except for the short spur just west of Ploská which makes for one more high summit of the Holná Fatra, namely Borišov at 1509 m. On the Turiec Ridge proper (i.e. excluding Borišov), the highest and the most interesting summit is limestone Kľak, which falls six meters short of the 1400 m mark.

Sunset from the top of Borišov, looking East to Rakytov and Čierny Kameň
Turiec Ridge in foreground (left), and Liptov Ridge across Ľubochnianska Valley

Spring panorama
Čierny kameň (left), Ploská (center) and Borišov (right) seen from Liptov Ridge


Bralná Fatra




West of the highest summits of the Veľká Fatra spreads a vast, forested mountainous country composed of limestone and dolomite, which is aptly named the Bralná (Cliffy) Fatra. This wild area is home to the elusive lynx, but has a good network of waymarked trails. The trails run along the major valleys and lead to the three highest and most interesting summits: Ostrá at 1247 m, Tlstá at 1373 m and Drieňok at 1268 m.

Zvolen Massif


 
Malý Zvolen
Malý Zvolen (1372 m)
The massif of Zvolen was officially included in the Veľká Fatra in the late 1970s; before it was thought to be part of the Nízke Tatry. The massif lies several kilometers east of the highest summits of the Veľká Fatra, between the Revúca River and its right-bank tributary Korytnica, beyond which rise the Nízke Tatry. At the south foot of the summit of Zvolen (1402 m) sits the ski resort of Donovaly, one of the most popular in Slovakia. The summit of Zvolen may be worth visiting for the breathtaking panoramas of the main ridge of the Veľká Fatra, Nízke Tatry and other nearby mountain ranges.

Full panorama
Seen from the summit of Zvolen - pano by Konrad Sus


Šípska Fatra


 
Šípska Fatra
Zadný Šíp at 1143 m
Sidorovo (1099 m)
Sidorovo at 1099 m

Just like the massif of Zvolen, the Šípska Fatra was officially included in the Veľká Fatra in the late 1970s; before it was believed to be part of the Chočské vrchy. Besides, according to the Slovak geologists of today, the Šípska Fatra extends on both sides of the Váh River west of the town of Ružomberok. Still, most hikers as well as some geographers are used to calling the Šípska Fatra only what rises just north of the river. Consequently, to the geologist the highpoint of the Šípska Fatra will be Vtáčnik at 1236 m whereas the hiker will point to Šíp at 1169 m, towering impressively over the valley of the Váh.


Panorama from the top of Chleb
Fatra-Tatra area

Interesting Summits

Early Morning Poem
 


The table below lists the highest and some other conspicuous summits.

Summit
Elevation in meters
Photo
Brief description
Ostredok
1596
"Ostredok" is a complete misnomer since "ostry" translates as "sharp". Ostredok is composed of marls, therefore it is smoothly shaped and has avalanche prone slopes. It sits in the central part of the Hôľna Fatra and can be reached via trails marked with red or green stripes. The height of the mountain has recently been corrected.
Frčkov
1586
The second highest peak about one kilometer south of Ostredok. Red stripes.
Krížna
1574
At the south end of the main ridge, at its intersection with a massive ridge trending west to east. Alpine meadows with patches of dwarf pine on the NE side; nicknamed the "mother of avalanches" with huge nival niches. A radio mast, military objects and a memorial of a plane crash from 1961 on its top. The trails that run north (towards Ostredok), west (towards Kráľova skala and Drieňok) and east (towards the sedlo of Veľký Šturec and the massif of Zvolen beyond it) from Krížna are all waymarked with red stripes. A blue-striped trail approaches the summit from the south.
Rakytov
1567
The highest peak of the Liptov ridge, in its central part, shaped like a pyramid. A superb vantage point with a wooden cross on its top. It can be climbed via a green trail. There is an interesting formation named "Skalná brána" (Rocky gate) at its south base. The summit is bypassed by a yellow trail that contours its west side.
Suchý vrch
1550
A patch of limestone designed a nature reserve between Ostredok and Ploská, strongly contrasting with the smoothly shaped relief of its surroundings. In the central part of the main ridge, about 1 km NE of Ostredok. Red stripes.
Ploská
1532
This aptly named summit ("ploská" literally means "flat"), at which the main ridge splits into two, stands over 4 km northeast of Ostredok. Its west side is prone to avalanches. On the top is the grave of Ondrej Kisso which dates back to the times of the Slovak national uprising. Red/yellow stripes to the summit; a green striped traverse of its north side and a blue striped traverse of its west side.
Smrekovica
1530
An extensively wooded massif, formed of crystalline schists, halfway down the Liptov Ridge. The massif has been designated a nature reserve. The main summit, only accessible by unmarked paths, stands on a lateral ridge over 2 km east of the main ridge, where sits a namesake mountain resort. 
Borišov
1509
A conical peak around 2 km west of Ploská, a nature reserve. The north side of the mountain is covered by spruce woodland, the south side is notorious for avalanches, just east of the peak sits a mountain hut known as Chata pod Borišovom, from where you can get to the summit via a yellow trail.
Čierny kameň
1479
One of the landmarks of the Veľká Fatra - an isolated, distinctive piece of the Choč nappe at the south end of the Liptov Ridge, formed of resistant limestone and dolomite. It is a spectacular formation with almost vertical walls trending southeast and a continuous dwarf pine cover. Its gentler, western side is protected as a nature reserve, across which runs a green trail, which keeps a few hundred meters away from the summit.
Skalná Alpa
1463
A sharp ridge with steep west and east sides, between Rakytov and Smrekovica, named by Austrian cartographers in the 19th century. Alternating layers of limestone and dolomite on a granite bedrock, a nature reserve. The east side of the peak is traversed by a green stripe trail.
Šiprúň
1461
A twin-peaked wooded summit formed of limestone and dolomite. At the north end of the Liptov Ridge. Red stripes.
Zvolen
1403
A rounded mountain with gentle slopes which makes for a superb vantage point. In the east part of the namesake ridge, 2 km north of the winter resort of Donovaly, very popular with skiers and tourists. Red/yellow stripes.
Kľak
1394
The highpoint of the Turiec Ridge, located in its central part, formed of limestone. A great vantage point and a significant junction of red/yellow/blue/green trails.
Lysec
1381
Situated between the Belianska and Hornojasenska valleys, about 3 km west of the Turiec Ridge, with a cliffy northeast face. Lysec is mostly formed of limestones of the Krížna nappe. It is a nature reserve accessible by blue and yellow stripes.
Kráľova skala
1377
A distinctive cliff over 2 km west of Krížna, formed of limestones and dolomites with calciphilous vegetation, towering a stone's throw from an important trail junction at a spring called Kráľova studňa, about 1 km north of the namesake mountain hut and 1 km east of an old-fashioned chalet used as a shelter. Yellow stripes.
Tlstá
1373
A huge limestone and dolomite massif in the heart of the Bralná Fatra, resembling a table mountain with a vast summit plateau and steep sides made up of vertical cliff bands and ledges that separate them, endowed with multiple caves. A nature reserve. Blue/green stripes.
Majerova skala
1283
This impressive limestone crag on the southern outskirts of the Hôľna Fatra, 2 km southeast of Krížna, gives a fine view of the Starohorské hills. The hill is a monument of nature, its cavities and hollows being favourable winter dens of the brown bear. Blue stripes.
Drieňok
1268
A wooded cone in the Bralná Fatra, rising above the Blatnica valley. Blue stripes.
Ostrá
1247
One of the most spectacular massifs in the Bralná Fatra, between the valleys of Blatnica and Konský dol: a twin-peaked summit, limestone towers, narrow rocky window, nature reserve. Yellow stripes.


Picturesque canopy
 

Attractive Sites


The table below lists the most attractive natural and cultural sites of the Velká Fatra that sit away from its summits.

NamePhotoStatusBrief description
Vlkolínec
UNESCO World Cultural Heritage
The best preserved settlement with traditional log buildings in the Carpathian region, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The existence of the village was first recorded in 1376. Today it features 73 objects of folk architecture, including a bellfry dating back to 1770 and a wooden well from 1860. The village sits on the outskirts of the town of Ružomberok and is accessible via an interpretive trail.
Jánošíkova kolkáreň
National Nature Reserve
This reserve, established in 1964 and covering 243 ha, protects a swath of pristine spruce woodland with some 400 year old specimens. It is located under the summit of Malá Smrekovica, within the crystalline part of the Velká Fatra. A green stripe trail winds through the core zone of the reserve.
Krkavá skala
Monument of Nature
This legendary, 15 meter tall, dolomite crag belongs in the highest karst towers in Slovakia. It rises by a route named the Royal Road, about 2 km south of Ružomberok. Green stripes.
Harmanecká jaskyňa
National Monument of Nature
The most spectacular cave in the Velká Fatra, in the southern tip of the range which used to be regarded as part of the Kremnické vrchy, south of the Harmanecká Valley. The cave is nicknamed the White Cave owing to its ceiling formed of pure limestone, with plenty of moonmilk. It houses the Great Dome with two pagodas (12 m tall, 3 m in diameter). A huge number of bats winter there. Of the total length of more than 3 km, over 1 km is accessible to the public (guided tours only). To the entrance leads a zig zag interpretive trail (260 m net elevation gain).
Vodopád v Došnej
A 6 m tall waterfall with three tiers, on a tributary of Beliansky creek. Accessible via yellow strips from Havranovo guesthouse.
Čertova brána
A narrow passage between massive limestone blocks approaching each other at a distance of three meters. In the middle of the Gader valley, about half a kilometer from the intersection with Dedošová and Selenec ravines. Yellow stripes.
Vodný žľab Rakytovo
National Cultural Monument, Special Forestry Site
The last fully operational wooden water flume in Europe, built in C19, reconstructed in 2006, length 2450 m, altitudinal range 700-532 m, made of coniferous wood. The flume was originally used to transport wood - trunks and branches were chopped into one meter long logs that floated 2,450 m downstream. Accessible via an interpretive trail from Dolný/Horný Harmanec winding through the Harmanec karst area near two old railway tunnels.
Blatnický hrad
Historical Monument
The castle was built in mid-C13 to protect the trading route Magna Via to Nitra town. Deserted since 1790, these days volunteers help to conserve the ruins. On Plesovica hill above the Gader valley, about 2 km northeast of Blatnica village. An interpretive trail marked with yellow stripes.
Jazierské travertiny
Monument of Nature
Established in 1952, preserves a chain of travertine terraces, 250 m long, created by a karst spring. The process is still underway. Interesting circular depressions ("jazierce") and the curious-looking Jazierska cascade, rare species of orchids. In the Revúca valley, about 4 km south of Ružomberok, an unmarked path.
Harmanecká tísina
National Nature Reserve
Designated in 1949, 20 ha, protects a very special site boasting the highest density of natural yew tree (relic from the Tertiary Period) stands in Europe. The oldest specimens reach the age of 600 years. About 1 km northwest of Horný Harmanec, near the Čremošniansky tunnel, which was the longest in Czechoslovakia (4.7 km). A green striped trail crosses the reserve.
Vlčia skala
Monument of Nature
This travertine terrace from the Quaternary Period is a geologic curiosity. It contains several fissure caves and has a Jesuit chapel on its top. Since 1930 religious services has been given here. It is located on the northern slopes of the Tisova ridge, about 3 km south of Ružomberok. Accessible via an interpretive trail winding through the Trlenská valley.
 Skalná brána
  A rock gate on the main ridge, at the south foot of Rakytov.

Camel´s crag
Ťavia skala seen from Králova skala

Maps & Books

Online maps 
Map of National park Veľká Fatra
 Protected areas


  • Hiking SK: If you click 'Nastavenie mapy', then select 'Pramene', you will see springs; after selecting 'Chaty, útulne, salaše, búdy', you will see mountain huts, cabins, shepherds' huts and shelters
  • Mapy CZ

  • Treking CZ



Paper maps


Books

Red Tape, Bivouacking & Huts

Velka Fatra
 
Although the territory of the Velká Fatra was declared a National Park, bivouacking (one night) is possible within a radius of 50 meters from huts, refuges, log cabins, chalets, etc. Moreover, the park authority allows hikers to make use of the following designated campgrounds:
The above campgrounds as well as the areas where biking, ski mountaineering, snowboarding and rock climbing are allowed can be seen on this map.


There are several mountain huts and hotels in the mountains. Those listed below sit above 1200 m.
  • Chata pod Borišovom at 1300 m, just half a kilometer east of the summit of Borišov: great atmosphere, little comfort, no electricity (kerosene lamps), food and drinks relatively expensive. If you have your sleeping bag, you pay much less for a bed - in 2016 it was €9 instead of €17. If all beds sell out, a place on the floor cost €8 (in 2016) 

  • Útulňa Limba at 1210m, southeast of Rakytov, about half an hour's walk-up from the main ridge. The facilities are rudimentary (water at a nearby spring), but it is cheap (€5 in 2016)

  • Kráľova Studňa Mountain Hotel at 1277 m. The hotel/hut - named after a powerful nearby spring - has been recently renovated, so it is not as bad as it used to be

  • Smrekovica Mountain Hotel at 1339 m, on the main ridge, not to be mistaken for Smrekovica cabin (last photo below)

  • Granit Smrekovica Hotel at 1428 m - a three-star hotel on the main ridge, not to be mistaken for Smrekovica Mountain Hotel, which sits 1 km to the SSW


Hut in summerChata pod Borišovom
King´s cliff (1377 m)By Kráľova skala
SistersUnfortunately, most shepherds' huts near Borišov are locked

We arrive to the moutain-hut <a href= http://hiking.sk/hk/ar/55/horsky_hotel_kralova_studna.html >Horský Hotel Králova Strudňa</a>, in my opinion Slovakia s worse mountain hut, and probably the worse I have ever seen in my life... Horský hotel Kráľova studňa
The hut  Koliba nad Kráľovou Studňou Shelter known as 'Koliba nad Kráľovou Studňou'
The hut  Salaš Smrekovica Smrekovica cabin west of Kráľova studňa


The following shepherds' huts remained unlocked in 2016, but they were occupied by shepherds in the summer. (Livestock grazing is allowed in some areas of the national park.)
NB There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels in the villages and towns all around the mountains.

Mountain Conditions

Crest of Velka Fatra 
Forest trail in Veľká Fatra 
Velka Fatra 



Avalanche risk
Mountain rescue teams (emergency phone number: 18 300) are based in Donovaly and Malinô Brdo.
Warning: In Slovakia (unlike in Poland), those who do not carry commercial insurance, such as the "Out and Active" (see here), have to pay for any rescue services rendered by Mountain Rescue Service (HZS). Membership of the Austrian Alpine Club (Österreichischer Alpenverein) sorts the problem out.

The spring gentian <i>Gentiana verna</i> 
Dorota during the traverse of Ploská 
Spring Crocuses on Fatra 

Getting There

TlstáTlstá seen from Blatnica
Lubochnianska valleyĽubochnianka Valley
The Revúca valley, at the junction where Rakytov s yellow trail startsTeplô (TH for Rakytov)

The Veľká Fatra is readily accessible from all sides. In the north, along the valley of the Váh run the main E50 road and a major rail line, which connect the city of Žilina to the towns of Martin (ten kilometers away from the western boundary of the mountains; NB you may have to get off the train at Vrútky, a few kilometers away from Martin) and Ružomberok (at the northeast corner of the mountains). The southern fringe of the mountains lies around 15 km from the city of Banská Bystrica. The city has good rail and road (road 14, then 65) links with Turčianske Teplice  and Martin. The route skirts the Veľká Fatra from the south and west, leading through Harmanec. Road E77, connecting Banská Bystrica to Ružomberok, provides access to Staré Hory and the ski resort of Donovaly, then runs along the Revúca River, whose middle and lower reaches form the eastern boundary of the Veľká Fatra. Along the upper reaches of the Revúca runs a third-class road no. 2223, which - after leaving the valley - starts its countless switchbacks to cross the pass of Veľký Šturec and finally join road E77 between Staré Hory and Donovaly. Last but not least, you can drive into the heart of the Veľká Fatra up the Ľubochnianka Valley.

Train and bus timetables
Bratislava Airport

Trailheads for particular hiking destinations are tabulated below.

Access routeTrailhead atTimes of walk up (hr:min)Destinations
Martin - Sklabiňa
Sklabinský Podzámok
1:30/4:30/3:30
Katova skala/Kľak/Jarabina
Martin - Belá-Dulice
Belá
1/3:30/4:30
Jasenská dolina/Lysec/Chata pod Borišovom
Martin - Blatnica
Blatnica
6/3:30/3/6:30
Králova skala/Tlstá/Ostrá/Králova studňa (Bralná Fatra)
 Turčianske Teplice - Rakša Rakša 3:15 Drieňok
Turčianske Teplice - Čremošné
Žarnovica
4:30
Žarnovická dolina-Velká skalná-Drieňok
Vrútky - Kraľovany
Stankovany/Lubochňa
2:30/3:30/1:30
Šípska Fatra/Turiec ridge/Lubochnianska dolina
Vrútky - Ružomberok
Ružomberok
2/2:30/4:30 
Krkavá skala-Vlkolínec/Sidorovo/Liptov ridge
 Ružomberok - Liptovské Revúce Teplô  3 Rakytov
Ružomberok - Liptovské Revúce
Vyšná Revúca
2/4
Ploská/Krížna (Hôľna Fatra)
Ružomberok - Donovaly
Donovaly/Staré Hory
1:30/2
Zvolen/Majerova skala
Banská Bystrica - Králova studňa
Králova studňa Mountain Hotel
2
Ostredok (Bald Fatra)
Banská Bystrica - Harmanec
Horný Harmanec
1/0:30/0:30 
Harmanec cave/Vodný žľab Rakytovo/Harmanecká tísina


Cold weather front on Krizne
Signpost at Krížna summit

Ski Resorts

 
Ski resort Donovaly - with mount Prasiva
Donovaly  



Overview

Karpaty - Munţii Carpaţi - Kárpátok - Карпати - Karpaten

The Carpathians and their neighborsCarpathians in center - the Big Five - subregions we have identified. Neighbors: Alps to the West, Dinarides (SW – across Great Hungarian Plain), Balkan Mountains (S), Sudetes (NW).


 
Rhododendron kotschyi
Rhododendron kotschyi
- token flower of E&S Carpathians

The Carpathian Mountains constitute one of Europe's main mountain systems, whose characteristic arc spans some 1,500 km across, separating the Carpathian Basin from the vast lowlands of Eastern Europe. At both ends, it is cut off from the neighboring mountains – the Alps in the west, and the Stara Planina/Balkan Mountains in the south – by the Danube River (although in geologic terms the Carpathians extend a bit beyond the Danube - further discussion in the SW chapter). The Carpathians run across the political borders between half a dozen countries: the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Romania.

Bearing in mind the sheer size of the Carpathian mountains, we are not going to provide much information about their particular ranges. Our objective is to give an overview - detailed information is expected of the child pages. The relevant SP pages (varying widely in quality) have been attached, the most important ranges that do not have an SP page yet have been highlighted in bold print in the tables. With this page, we would like to encourage fellow SP'ers to continue working on the old as well as submitting new SP pages about any of the countless interesting places to be found in our beloved Carpathian Mountains.

 
Geological map of the Carpathians
Geological map of Carpathians and Carpathian Basin - 1922

Geology and Physiography


The Carpathians presented here have been split into five groups: the Northwestern, Northeastern, Eastern (Northeastern and Eastern Carpathians are often classified as one region named the East Carpathians), Southern and Southwestern Carpathians. This breakdown is generally based on the works of Hungarian geologists and geographers, and differs markedly from the physiographic divisions of the Carpathians usually drawn, for example, in Poland.   

The Carpathians are typically composed of three lithologic belts: the outer flysch belt (of relatively hard sandstone and soft shale), which is usually broad but low; the central crystalline (i.e. metamorphic/granitoid) belt, which contains nearly all of the highest ranges; and the inner volcanic belt (rather low, except the Călimani Mountains, which rise above 2,100 m). This pattern is best displayed in the Northwestern Carpathians, and also in the Eastern Carpathians. The crystalline chain is very poorly exposed in the relatively low Northeastern Carpathians (only a couple of crystalline mountains of the Marmarosh Mountains break through the sedimentary cover). Also, the make-up of the Southern Carpathians, which are almost exclusively composed of crystalline blocks, is different.
 
Obidza Waterfall
Flysch belt binds Carpathians (Beskid Sądecki Mountains)

Within the Carpathians, the eastern sibling of the Alps, there are many blocks whose rocks were (trans-)formed by orogenic cycles older than the Alpine orogeny. Some of those blocks, e.g. the Rodnei Mountains constitute well-preserved pre-Mesozoic orogens, i.e. mountains last folded during the Hercynian (Variscan) or older cycles. Generally, what is now metamorphic rocks used to be pre-Mesozoic sediments (e.g. flysch or limestone) which were altered - mostly through contact with magma – in the late Paleozoic. The metamorphic rocks (usually gneiss and schists) along with the granitoid rocks (magma that has set) form the so-called crystalline cores of numerous ranges on the inner side of the flysch belt. These crystalline blocks are – to varying extent – covered by Mesozoic limestone, especially on the flanks, since prolonged erosion has usually removed the limestone from the central part of the range.
   
View to the west from Gărgalău saddle
Ancient orogen of Rodnei Mountains

However, regardless of how old the rocks are, the geomorphology of the Carpathians was virtually determined by the Alpine (Tertiary) mountain-building cycle, which:
1) folded vast areas of limestone and flysch deposited in the post-Paleozoic seas that covered most of what is now the Carpathians
2) uplifted a number of old, crystalline blocks along fault lines (cracks in the Earth's crust)
3) towards the end of the Tertiary, was completed with eruptions of lava inside the Carpathian arc

In contrast to the Alps, limestone nappes (i.e. huge folds) are neither well developed nor well preserved. In the Carpathians, it is flysch which plays their part. Limestone (or more precisely calcareous rocks - limestone and dolomite - white triangles on our maps) occurs mainly on the sides of the crystalline massifs. Limestone 'splinters' can also be found immersed in the flysch. But like elsewhere the outcrops of calcareous rocks, especially mid-Mesozoic (Jurassic), often boast precipitous bluffs and crags, narrow gorges and caves.

At present, there aren't any glaciers left in the Carpathians, although the highest ranges did undergo intensive glacial activity in the Ice Age. As a result, their relief is bold and they are dotted with cirques and blue tarns, which makes for spectacular scenery. (A virtual NW to E to S to SW Carpathian traverse above the tree line is possible on SP by clicking here.)

 
Trzy Korony ...Three limestone crowns
Calm before the stormGranite and tarns
Călimani s rimRemnants of volcanoes

In the following chapters, we will aim to list all particular ranges of each unit of the Carpathian Big Five in a separate table, split into columns according to the dominant rock type. Below each table, you will find a list of the most attractive limestone areas.

Babel of Toponyms


 
On the ridge
Romanian shepherds in Făgăraş Mountains

The Carpathians have always been inhabited by a handful of peoples. In recent centuries, among those nations are the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Romanians, Hungarians and Germans ('Saxons'). Hence, most of the Carpathian ranges and sub-ranges have names in several languages. Since including all the names in each of the languages would make the tables too crowded, we have decided to normally stick to the name in the language of the country whose territory a particular area is part of nowadays (most of the Carpathians lies in Slovakia, Ukraine and Romania today), with some exceptions, e.g. when an English name is commonly used or when the translation brings out the meaning, and occasionally when local ethnic proportions justify it.

However, we believe that it would be appropriate to list all the different names on the area and mountain pages. A dictionary of toponyms has been initiated for this purpose. Also, a little Carpathian Picture Dictionary, which lists about 150 words in eight languages, is available on SP.


Wildlife and Wilderness


 
the bearBrown bear sanctuary
Per 100 sq km of WoodlandRomaniaSlovakiaSlovenia(top non-Carpathian)
Bear
Lynx
Wolf
7 (3.5?)
3
6 to 5
3.5
2
4 to 3
5
1
1

The Carpathians cannot compete with the Alps in elevation, but they are one of the few remaining areas in Europe that are so rich in wildlife. Carpathian wilderness, like almost elsewhere in Europe, is hardly land intact by humans – in fact, it is mostly found in the areas that has been rewilded over the last century or several decades. For example, the brown bear population in the Tatras - the highest Carpathian mountain range, in which the custom of hiking and mountaineering dates back to the 16th century and which is packed with visitors in summertime - has grown over twenty times since the end of World War II. Please take a look here.

In the remote corners of the Southern or NortheasternCarpathians, you can easily find solitude and walk all day without meeting anybody, but this is also possible in the more touristy Northwestern Carpathians provided that you keep away from honeypots. Fortunately, a number of the most attractive places within the Carpathians have not become honeypots yet. Let us hope they will remain wild forever.  


Wolf filmed by LukZem
Bear filmed in Hagymás/Hăşmaş Mts

The Carpathians are home to various endangered and endemic species of plants and animals, including Europe's second largest (after Russia) brown bear population, especially strong in the Carpathian Bend. According to officials, there are five to six thousand brown bears in Romania although many ecologists claim that half of the bears have been shot down over the past two decades. If you are seeking an adventure package which encompasses crossing the bear country, the Carpathians by all means have it on offer. Check out the following link, full of information on the Carpathian bear, including detailed safety advice. Information on a range of animal species that inhabit the Carpathians can be studied on this SP page.

 
Chamois familyCarpathian chamois
 
MarmotHigh Tatra marmot
 
the flower 3Pink: Dianthus callizonus
 
Fire Salamander of Devil s RockFire salamander
 
Black Stork of the DunajecBlack stork
 
Rosalia longicorn (<i>Rosalia alpina</i>)Rosalia longicorn

NW Carpathians

The Northwestern Carpathians are the widest and most complex part of the Carpathian mountain chain, stretching from the Danube River at Devín, east of Vienna, to the valley of the Topľa River in the east of Slovakia. All three Carpathian lithologic belts – flysch, crystalline, and volcanic – are extensively developed here. It is also here that the the High Tatras (Gerlachovský štít, 2655 m) rise – the highest and most alpine in character mountain range in all of the Carpathians, which straddles the border between Slovakia and Poland.

High Tatras
Vysoké Tatry /High Tatras/ from Nízké Tatry /Low Tatras/ - fall


Apart from the Tatras (which can be subdivided into the Western, High and Belianske Tatras), known in both Poland and Slovakia as Tatry, only the Low Tatras (Nízke Tatry) – a discrete mountain range that runs parallel to the Tatras between the valleys of the Váh and Hron rivers – exceed 2000 m in elevation. Despite there being plenty of crystalline ranges and massifs in the Northwestern Carpathians, the third highest mountain range in this part of the Carpathians stands inside the flysch belt, just north of the Tatras, and bears the name of High Beskid (Beskid Wysoki, more often called Beskid Żywiecki in Poland, after the town of Żywiec). Its highest massif tops out at 1725 m. The other three ranges that rise above timberline are the Little Fatra (Malá Fatra), the Great Fatra (Veľká Fatra) and the calcareous Chočské vrchy, all situated west of the Tatras or the Low Tatras. Like most of the other crystalline ranges in the Northwestern Carpathians, both the Fatras have vast areas formed of limestone and dolomite, within which some bold mountains stand. The most interesting of them is spectacular Veľký Rozsutec sitting at the north end of the Little Fatra.

High-Börzsöny panorama
 Börzsöny - spring

In the southern chunk of the Northwestern Carpathians there are about a dozen hilly areas where volcanic rocks dominate. The highest of them, heavily wooded Pol'ana, reaches 1458 m and represents the remnants of a large stratovolcano. The volcanic belt of Northern Hungary crosses the Danube north of Budapest to extend further west, towards Lake Balaton, as the Transdanubian Hills, which are not regarded as part of the Carpathians except the Visegrád Mountains.

The table below lists the ranges of the Northwestern Carpathians from west to east, sorted by the dominant rock type, in the following format: mountain range - highest peak - elevation (in meters). Information about the limestone areas is to be found below the map and the following table.

 
Triangles indicate the highest peaks of particular ranges (hover the mouse over them to see the names of the ranges and peaks). Black pentagons indicate major towns with airports (click to open links).
White Carpathians (Veľká Javorina, 970 m)Javorníky (Veľký Javorník, 1071 m)Moravskoslezské Beskydy (Lysá hora, 1323 m)Beskid Śląski (Skrzyczne, 1257 m)Beskid Mały (Czupel, 933 m)High Beskid (Babia Góra, 1725 m)Oravská Magura (Minčol, 1394 m)Skorušinské vrchy & Pogórze Gubałowskie (Skorušina, 1314 m)Beskid Makowski (Lubomir, 904 m)Gorce (Turbacz, 1310 m)Beskid Wyspowy (Mogielica, 1170 m)Beskid Sądecki (Radziejowa, 1262 m)Spišská Magura (Repisko, 1259 m)Levočské vrchy (Čierna hora, 1289 m)Čergov (Minčol, 1157 m)Little Carpathians (Záruby, 768 m)Inovec (Inovec, 1042 m)Strážovské vrchy (Strážov, 1213 m)Little Fatra (Veľký Kriváň, 1709 m)Western Tatras (Bystrá, 2248 m)High Tatras (Gerlachovský, 2655 m)Branisko (Smrekovica, 12000 m)Tribeč (Veľký Tribeč, 829 m)Greater Fatra (Ostredok, 1592 m)Low Tatras (Ďumbier, 2043 m)Veporské vrchy (Fabova hoľa, 1438 m)Stolické vrchy (Stolica, 1476)Volovské vrchy (Volovec, 1284)Vtáčnik (Vtáčnik, 1345 m)Kremnické vrchy (Flochová, 1317 m)Štiavnické vrchy (Sitno, 1009 m)Javorie-Ostrôžky (Lažtek, 1044 m)Poľana (Poľana, 1458 m)Börzsöny (Csóványos, 938 m)Visegrádi-hegység (Dobogókő, 700 m)Mátra (Kékes, 1014 m)Karancs-Medves (Karancs, 727 m)Zempléni-hegység (Nagy-Milic, 894 m)Slanské vrchy (Šimonka, 1092 m)Súľovské skaly (Veľký Manín, 891 m)Chočské vrchy (Veľký Choč, 1611 m)Belianské Tatry (Havran, 2152 m)Pieniny (Trzy Korony, 982 m)Muránska planina (Kľak, 1409 m)Slovenský raj (Ondrejisko, 1270 m)Gömör-Torna karst (Matesova skala, 925 m)Bükk (Istállós-kő, 959 m)Bratislava (SK)Budapest (HU)Košice (SK)Poprad (SK)Kraków (PL)
Real skyscrapersHigh Tatras - summer
Nizke Tatry - Dumbier summitLow Tatras - winter
View of Rozsutec from StefanowaLittle Fatra - summer


Flysch beltCrystalline beltVolcanic belt
Northern ranges (Western Beskids)
Moravskoslezské BeskydyLysá hora1323
Beskid ŚląskiSkrzyczne1257
High BeskidBabia Góra1725
GorceTurbacz1310
Beskid SądeckiRadziejowa1262
Beskid MałyCzupel933
Beskid MakowskiLubomir904
Beskid WyspowyMogielica1170
Western ranges
White CarpathiansVeľká Javorina970
Javorníky Mts.Veľký Javorník1071
Inner ranges
Oravská MaguraMinčol1394
Skorušinské vrchy &Pogórze GubałowskieSkorušina1314
Spišská MaguraRepisko1259
Levočské vrchyČierna hora1289
ČergovMinčol1157

The High Beskid Mountains, which straddle the Poland-Slovakia border, are called Beskid Żywiecki in Poland and Kysucké a Oravské Beskydy in Slovakia.
Western ranges
Little CarpathiansZáruby768
Inovec Mts.Inovec1042
Strážovské vrchyStrážov1213
TribečVeľký Tribeč829
Northern ranges
Little FatraVeľký Kriváň1709
Western TatrasBystrá2248
High TatrasGerlachovský2655
Central ranges
Great FatraOstredok1592
Low TatrasĎumbier2043
Southeastern ranges
Veporské vrchyFabova hoľa1438
Stolické vrchyStolica1476
Volovské vrchyVolovec1284
BraniskoSmrekovica1200

The Western Tatras (mostly metamorphic rocks and limestone) and the High Tatras (granite) are in fact one range.The SE ranges except Branisko are often grouped together as Slovenské rudohorie or Spišsko-gemerské rudohorie (Slovak / Spiš-Gemer Ore Mountains)
Northern (Slovakian) massifs
VtáčnikVtáčnik1345
Štiavnické vrchySitno1009
Kremnické vrchyFlochová1317
Javorie-OstrôžkyLažtek1044
PoľanaPoľana1458
Southern (Hungarian) massifs
BörzsönyCsóványos938
Visegrádi-hegységDobogókő700
Karancs-MedvesKarancs727
MátraKékes-tető1014
Eastern rim
Slanské vrchyŠimonka1092
Zempléni-hegységNagy-Milic894

Slanské and Zemplén Mountains actually make up a single range, cut in half by the political border between Slovakia and Hungary - hence the two names. The whole range is also sometimes referred to as the Eperjes-Tokaj Mountains, after the two towns at opposite ends of the range (the Slovak name of Eperjes is Prešov). However, the traditional name of the range was Sátor (Tent) Mountains, after the shape of its mountains.


 
Hrubá Kopa-2166 mWestern Tatras  
 
Gerlach seen from Rysy ridgeHigh Tatras 
 
Zdiarska Vidla and HavranBelianske Tatry
Babia Gora 1725mHigh Beskid
 
The highest segment of Velká FatraGreat Fatra
Vadálló kövekVisegrád Mountains



The most distinct limestone blocks in the north:

  • Belianske Tatry (Havran, 2152 m) - the distinct limestone/dolomite ridge adjoining the High Tatras, along with which it's often classified as the Eastern Tatras
  • Pieniny (Wysoka, 1052 m) - the most outstanding group of the limestone rocks scattered along the inner rim of the flysch belt (nice crags also stick out of flysch within the Orava-Podhale basin and in the White Carpathians), right opposite the outer edge of the crystalline belt. The Pieniny are cut in half by the winding Dunajec River, which has created a scenic gorge through which one can travel on a locally made raft, on a bike or on foot.
  • Chočské vrchy (Veľký Choč, 1611 m) - a link between the Western Tatras and the two Fatras
  • Súľovské skaly (Veľký Manín, 891 m) - plenty of rock towers made of limestone conglomerate, at the northern end of the Strážovské vrchy

Súľovský hradSúľov, Strážovské vrchy
 
View from Velky Choc summit....Veľký Choč
 
Dunajec river gorgeDunajec Gorge, Pieniny
KršlenicaLittle Carpathians 
Cukorová Homolá (Cukorsüveg) Slovak Karst
Vršatec rocksVršatec, White Carpathians 


Limestone plateaus and canyon lands on the peripheries of the Slovenské rudohorie:
 
Slovensky raj, Slovakia
Slovak Paradise 

  • Spišsko-gemerský kras - consisting of two distinct parts: Muránska planina (Kľak, 1409 m) and Slovak Paradise (Slovenský raj) (Ondrejisko, 1270 m). Slovak Paradise is famous for its trails which lead one up narrow canyons and waterfalls with the assistance of metal or wooden ladders, bridges, steps and chains. (Such trails have also been built in other places in the Northwestern Carpathians, but nowhere is their network so vast.)
  • Gömör-Torna karst - cut in half by the political border between Slovakia and Hungary: Slovak karst (Matesova skala, 925 m) in the north - please see Zadielská Dolina and Aggtelek karst (Fertős-tető, 604 m) in the south.
  • Bükk (Istállós-kő - 959 m) - within the Hungarian volcanic belt.

Belian Tatras
Belianske Tatry

table

Ascent from theStart point in the town/village of Approx. total elevation gain in metresApprox. length of hike (km)Time for walk up (hrs)Marks
North: Lomniczka Valley
Karpacz
1,000
8
3.25
yellow-red
North: via the tarns
Karpacz
over 1,100
12.5
4.75-5
several options
             North-East             Kowary 1,300 12 5 yellow-blue-red
                North Upper station of chairlift           (Kopa)          260 2.3 1 black-red




Ascent from theStart point in the town/village of Approx. total elevation gain in metresApprox. length of hike (km)Time for walk up (hrs)Marks
South
Pec pod Sněžkou
900
7
3.25
blue-red
South
Pec pod Sněžkou
850
6.5
3
green-yellow
West
Špindlerův Mlýn
nearly 1,000
10.5
4.25
red-blue-red
 North-West Krkonošské sedlo 550 9.5 3.25 red
 East Horní Malá Úpa 850 6 2.75 green-yellow-red
 South Upper station of cable car several 0 0.05 




xxx

 
Zvolen
Zvolen
The massif of Zvolen lies several kilometers east of the highest summits of the Veľká Fatra, between the Revúca River and its right-bank tributary Korytnica, beyond which rise the Nízke Tatry. At the south foot of the summit of Zvolen (1402 m) sits the ski resort of Donovaly, one of the most popular in Slovakia. The summit of Zvolen may be worth visiting for the breathtaking panoramas of the main ridge of the Veľká Fatra, Nízke Tatry and other nearby mountain ranges.

Full panorama
Seen from the summit of Zvolen

Bulgarian maps

  • sketch map of the Kamenitsa Ridge

  • 1:55,000 - paper and online map of the Pirin (loads quickly)

  • 1:40,000 - paper and online: Select Kamenitsa or Kaмeницa

  • paper maps: Copy-paste "карта нa пирин" - Careful! "карта на южен Пирин" does not cover the area ("южен" = south)


useful links

accuweather widgets

weather365.net widgets

Romanian

Maps

 
The area around Maljovica.
 

Glossary
eзeрo– ezero – lake
рeкa - reka – river
дoлинa - dolina - valley
хижa – hizha – hut
зaслoн- zaslon - shelter/bothy
връх - vrah - peak
скала - skala - rock
прeвaл – preval – pass/col
пoртa - porta - gate
поляна - polyana - clearing/glade


The massive granite Maljovica...
From NE, left to right: Popova kapa, Kupenite, Lovnitsa, Zliya zab & Orlovets. Photo by taikavuorimies

When to Go, Weather & Rescue Service



Breaking trail
Avalanche-prone terrain.

Red Tape & Warning

 
Rozsutec reserve in Malá Fatra
 
  • The area is part of the National Nature Reserve Rozsutec, which is a part of the Malá Fatra National Park. Camping and rock climbing are not permitted. You have to stick to the waymarked trails.

  • In Slovakia, if you don't take out relevant insurance, such as the "Out and Active" (see here), you will have to cover the costs of the rescue operation. In an emergency call 18 300

When To Go & Weather

To avoid the crowds, it is advisable to go on a weekday in late spring, September or October. Some people might be keen on a winter adventure, for which you will need the basic gear and some experience: Here is an interesting video.

Weather, Avalanche Risk, Rescue Service

View of Ornak ridge
At Zadni Ornak in winter


Mountain rescue team's phone number: (+48) 601100300


Another forecast for Zakopane

Accommodation


Glossary:


Wszystkie miejscowości - All villages and towns
Wybierz rodzaj obiektu - Choose accommodation type
Apartamenty – Self-catering flats/apartments
Szalasy i domki - Chalets
Ośrodki wypoczynkowe – Lower standard hotels/guesthouses/holiday camps 
Pensjonaty – B&B/guesthouses
Wille – B&B/guesthouses
Wynajem pokoi – Guesthouses
Hotele – Hotels (varied standard)
Campingi - Campsites
Motele – Motels
Pola namiotowe – Rudimentary campsites
Noclegi/Kwatery/Zakwaterowanie - Accommodation
Szukaj - Search

4x4



Mountain Conditions


It is essential that you check the weather forecast too.

another 6-day forecast for Zakopane

Maps, Books, References

A 1:25,000 map of the Polish Tatras, such as this, is good enough while a 1:50,000 is NOT. Usually several versions are available at bookshops, souvenir shops and street stands in Zakopane.

I can recommend a special, 1:5,000 map of the Eagle Path (available online) which I used as a reference, especially while working on the second chapter. The same goes for the following guidebooks (unfortunately not available in English)

bb

Baníkov Banówka (PL) Bánya-hegy (HU)


 
Banikov
The east face of Jalovecký Príslop (2,142m) on the left,
and Baníkov (2,178m) on the right (photo by horrste).
 
Banikov ridge
E of the summit

One of the two most attractive summits in the Western Tatras, in their western part which Slovak people call the Roháče, Baníkov is the highest summit in the main ridge of the Western Tatras. (Its name probably derives from Hungarian/Slovak for "a mine/miner" - a couple of centuries ago the slopes of Baníkov, like all of the mountains in the area, were prospected for iron ore.) Its main attraction is several hundred metres of the narrow crest, part of the main ridge of the Western Tatras, running east of the main summit. No, we're not talking of the Alps. But it is fairly airy and in wet or wintry weather conditions the climbing can be pretty dangerous (surely the average SP'er does not have to be told this). Such a piece of jagged granite ridge is a rarity in this quarter of the Tatras (even as far as the High Tatras are concerned, such a thing is a rarity in terms of what is legally available, that is to say on the net of the marked trails within the National Park). Here is how Józef Nyka, renowned writer of the Tatra hiker's guidebooks, sees it: "...an interesting crest climb over good rock, with numerous craggy steps, notches and smooth slabs, generally high exposure." (translation by yatsek) The uppermost section of the mighty side ridge of Ráztoka/Rozsocha (green stripes leading to Žiarska chata, i.e. hut) between Baníkov and Jalovecký Príslop 2,142m which runs from Banikov to the south (photo above)is also quite narrow and its east face is precipitous.

The western face of Baníkov, down which the ridge trail continues towards the westernmost reaches of the Tatras, is the gentle side of the mountain. A descent to Baníkovské sedlo (Baníkov Saddle) at 2,040m takes just over 20 minutes. But mountains, like people, can have more than one face. Many unprepared climbers have been injured or killed on Baníkov, mostly in wintertime, of whom many if not the most were Czech. The Slovaks have a joke: Two non-Czech climbers are walking below a cornice of snow at Baníkov, and one of them says: "Hey, don't utter a word in Czech. It could trigger an avalanche."


 
Banikov from Grzes.N face (just right of centre)
 
Baníkov and PacholaFar left (N face)
 
Descending from BanikovTowards the west

Maps

ONLINE MAP on hiking.sk

Several versions of the paper map are available in bookshops in any of the nearby towns.


ONLINE MAP on hiking.sk


paper 1:25,000


formulas




ONLINE MAP on hiking.sk


To see the area and the trails on an online map, type (or copy and paste) Ostry Rohac in the search box.











Maps

online map


paper/waterproof/digital 1:25,000

Postglacial cirques...
 

pix




Down towards Tarns 
Looking into Wielki Kocioł Śnieżny 
Shark s Tooth 
Entering Wielki Kocioł Śnieżny from E 



pixB



Between High Wheel and Great HelmetSummer traverse
Martinova boudaFrom winter trail
Summit Knob from WSW 

vf

Crest of Velka Fatra 
Dorota during the traverse of Ploská 
Spring Crocuses on Fatra 



Mountain rescue teams are based in Donovaly and Malinô Brdo.

The spring gentian <i>Gentiana verna</i> 
Forest trail in Veľká Fatra 
Velka Fatra 

Images

This River Runs Thru Me