|Munţii Godeanu Godján-hegység (HU)|
The Godeanu Mountains constitute a massive orographic hub located in the western extremity of the Southern Carpathians. Separated from the Mehedinţi and the Vâlcan mountains by the valley of the Cerna, which forms their southeastern border, they sit between the Retezat Mountains in the northeast and the Cernei Mountains in the southwest, beyond Olanelor saddle. To the northwest of the Godeanu extends what can be called their twin range, namely the Ţarcu Mountains. The Godeanu and the Ţarcu are connected by the Corhale-Prislop ridge.
From the perspective of a Carpathian hiker, the Godeanu Mountains are SPACE. A large part of the Godeanu rises well above timberline, creating a world of vast alpine pastures, still being grazed by flocks of sheep and herds of cattle or horses, although not nearly as intensely as in the 20th and previous centuries. The tree line must have been lowered centuries ago by slash-and-burn. The krummholz zone has virtually vanished – patches of dwarf mountain pine have survived in few places, mostly in the rockiest terrain. Still, the lower parts of the deep valleys are thickly forested, wild and home to the bear, wolf and lynx.
The grass-covered ridges are broad and gentle, the adjacent valleys bear traces of glacial action which took place in the Pleistocene epoch. Most of the valley heads have been converted into more or less shapely cirques, some of which cradle small tarns now. The rocks are predominantly metamorphic schists. The main ridge runs from NE to SW and has a length of approximately 25 km. The highest summit of the Godeanu, Gugu rises in a massive lateral ridge, which branches off the main ridge near Moraru (2279 m – the second highest peak in these mountains) and runs north towards what used to be the confluence of the streams marking the northern boundary of the Godeanu: Râul Șes and Lăpușnicul Mare. Towards the end of the 20th century, the place was converted into a large reservoir named Gura Apei. Gugu stands about 3.5 km north of the main ridge (and about 6 km south of the reservoir), and tops out at 2291 m.
Even though the bulk of the Godeanu is formed of crystalline schists, patches of sedimentary rocks do occur in a few places. From among rock formations composed of conglomerates, Bisericile din Bulz, up to ten metres tall, located 2 km south of Muntele Scărişoara is worth mentioning. The River Cerna, which flows along the southeast flank of the Godeanu, has sculpted spectacular gorges, such as Cheile Corcoaiei (Corcoaia Gorge), but these are limestone features which are typical of the adjacent Mehedinţi range and therefore should be regarded as part of it. A few kilometers above Cheile Corcoaiei, the Cerna has been recently dammed, thus the second large reservoir (Lacul Iovanul) on the fringe of the Godeanu Mountains has been created.
Due to their westerly location as well as high elevation, the Godeanu Mountains are one of the wettest mountain ranges in the South Carpathians. They are often covered in clouds, which – combined with the topography – can result in navigation being quite difficult.
The table below lists the highest summits of the Godeanu Moutains.
NW CarpathiansThe widest and most complex part of the Carpathians, stretching from the Danube River at Devín to the valley of the Topľa River, inside which rises the highest range of all in the Carpathian Mountains: the High Tatras (highest point: Gerlachovský štít, 2655 m). The table below lists the member ranges of the group from west to east, sorted by the dominant rock type, in the following format: mountain range - highest peak - elevation (in meters). Information about limestone areas is to be found below the map and the following table.
An SP album Polish and Slovakian Carpathians houses a large number of photos from the area.
|Flysch belt||Crystalline belt||Volcanic belt|
Ranges marked with * make up the Western Beskids group. The High Beskid Mountains, straddling the Poland-Slovakia border, are called Beskid Żywiecki in Poland and Kysucké a Oravské Beskydy in Slovakia.
The Western Tatras (mostly metamorphic rocks and limestone) and the High Tatras (granite) are in fact one range. The central massifs are often grouped together as Slovenské rudohorie or Spišsko-gemerské rudohorie (Slovak / Spiš-Gemer Ore Mountains)
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 complete range is also referred to sometimes as Eperjes-Tokaj Mountains, after the two towns on its two ends (the Slovak name of Eperjes is Prešov). However, the traditional name of the range was Sátor (Tent) Mountains, after the shape of its mountains.
The most distinct limestone blocks in the north:
- Belianské 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) - see also the SP photo album about Pieniny - 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
- 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
Limestone plateaus and canyon lands on the peripheries of the Slovenské rudohorie:
- Spišsko-gemerský kras - consisting of two distinct parts: - Muránska planina (Kľak, 1409 m) - Slovenský raj (Ondrejisko, 1270 m)
- Gömör-Torna karst - cut in half by the political border between Slovakia and Hungary: - northern part: Slovak karst (Matesova skala, 925 m) - see SP page Zadielská Dolina - southern part: Aggtelek karst (Fertős-tető, 604 m).
- Bükk (Istállós-kő - 959 m) - inside the Carpathian Arc, within the Hungarian volcanic belt, which runs toward Lake Balaton
Route Statistics & Approach/Descent
|Route||Net Elevation Gain||Approx. Total Elevation Gain||Approx. Time of Whole Hike||Approx. Length of Hike|
|The above plus Zadni Granat (Zakopane-HG-Krzyżne-Skrajny Granat-Zadni Granat-HG-Zakopane)||1850 m|
The "core route" begins at Przełęcz Krzyżne (Krzyżne Pass, 2112m), sitting on a lateral ridge which branches off the main ridge of the Tatras at the summit of Świnica. Krzyżne is over four hours' walk along waymarked trails from the outskirts of Zakopane. From the hut on Hala Gąsienicowa (Gąsienica's Pasture) it takes – via a place called Dubrawiska and the valley of Pańszczyca – nearly three hours to walk up to Krzyżne. An ascent from the other, southern side is a little longer. From the trailhead at Polana Palenica (car park, "Morskie Oko" minibus terminus) you walk three quarters of an hour up the tarmac road to Mickiewicz Falls, where you turn right into the valley of Roztoka. A walk up the valley to/near the spot where the mountain hut stands by one of the Five Polish Tarns (Pięć Stawów Polskich) is expected to take two and a quarter hours. From the hut it takes another two and a quarter hours to get to Krzyżne.
From Skrajny Granat, a descent to Zakopane – first via yellow marks – should last about three and a half hours. But if – on reaching Skrajny Granat – you do not feel like leaving the crest and parting with the Eagle Path yet, you can carry on following the red marks and the ridge of Granaty for twenty five minutes (to Zadni Granat at 2,240m) or more (as far as Kozi Wierch, at which the one-way section of the Eagle Path ends). Some of the possible variations of the route (all of them waymarked) are listed in the table above. All variations can be seen on the map just below.
useful linksaccuweather widgets
Getting There, Routes & MapsBoth trailheads – the Chochołowska and Kościeliska valleys – are located several kilometres west of the town of Zakopane, by road 958, at the boundary of the Tatra Mountains National Park. To find out how to get to Zakopane, you can have a look here.
If you start your hike at Siwa Polana at the mouth of the Chochołowska valley (car park, bus terminus), it should take less than 4.5hr to reach Zadni Ornak via Dolina Starorobociańska (the Valley of Old Labour), whose name reflects the fact that metal minerals were mined in the side of Ornak as early as the 15th century. Net elevation gain will be 960m. Another option is routes via Iwaniacka pass – beginning at the mouth of either the Kościeliska or the Chochołowska valley. The last variant is the longest (about five hours' walk up). The stretch between Iwaniacka pass and the top of the Ornak ridge is pretty steep, so an ascent can be tedious in the sun, whereas a descent can be very slippery as ice and snow tend to linger there. Your hike can be much shorter if you set off at one of the two nearby mountain huts. (Please scroll down to the Accommodation chapter.)
There is also a good, older (before the Schengen pact embraced Poland and Slovakia) Polish map to be seen online, which has information on the times needed to walk the trails. You can purchase its latest paper version here. Usually maps by several publishers are available at bookshops, souvenir shops and street stands in Zakopane.
Red TapeYou have to pay for entry to the Tatra Mountains National Park – the fee is currently (year 2015) a bit more than an equivalent of €1 per day. The park rules are quite strict. In a nutshell, you are only allowed to walk along the marked trails and bivouacking is not permitted.
When To Go
To avoid the crowds, it is advisable to go in late spring or in autumn. Under winter conditions the relatively safe route will be the one from the Ornak hut via Iwaniacka pass – you will need the experience and basic gear.
Weather, Avalanche Risk, Rescue Service
Mountain rescue team's phone number: (+48) 601100300
|Another forecast for Zakopane|
- the hut on Polana Chochołowska
- the Ornak hut in the Kościeliska valley
- There are plenty of guesthouses and other types of accommodation in Zakopane and nearby villages. When booking online, I usually use this site.
Wszystkie miejscowości - All villages and towns
Szalasy i domki - Chalets
Ośrodki wypoczynkowe – Lower standard hotels/guesthouses/holiday camps
Wille – B&B/guesthouses
Wynajem pokoi – Guesthouses
Hotele – Hotels (varied standard)
Motele – Motels
Red TapeWandering off the waymarked trail and bivouacking are not permitted.
- Current weather conditions and live webcam views
- Conditions on the trails in Polish
- Mountain rescue team's phone number: (+48) 601100300
|It is essential that you check the weather forecast too.|
another 6-day forecast for Zakopane
Maps, Books, ReferencesA 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)
bbBaníkov Banówka (PL) Bánya-hegy (HU)
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."
Several versions of the paper map are available in bookshops in any of the nearby towns.
To see the area and the trails on an online map, type (or copy and paste) Ostry Rohac in the search box.
The Karkonosze range rises on the south outskirts of the city of Jelenia Góra. My favourite trailhead for Wielki Szyszak and Śnieżne Kotły is at the bus stop/car park called "Dom Hauptmanna" (Hauptmann's House), in front of the house in which Gerhart Hauptman, a renowned German writer and Nobel Prize winner spent the last few years of his life. You can get there on a number 15 bus. (A ride from the main railway station takes less than forty minutes.) From Hauptmann's House it takes about three hours to get to the top of Wielki Szyszak/Śnieżne Kotły. The total elevation gain will be nearly 1000m. If you leave the blue trail at the first trail junction and follow the black trail, you will soon hike along a pleasurable path along Wrzosówka brook leading to Czarny Kocioł Jagniątkowski.
Another convenient starting point will be either near the centre of the resort of Szklarska Poręba or at Szklarka Falls (an enclave of the national park), between Szklarska Poręba and Piechowice. However, ascending Wielki Szyszak from the west is nowhere near as much fun as an easterly ascent.
If you are staying in the hut northwest of Łabski Szczyt (Schronisko pod Łabskim Szczytem), the hike will take just about one hour.
If you are staying in the hut southeast of Łabski Szczyt (Martinova bouda), the hike will take just about one hour.
You can make use of this route planner. Just copy and paste "Śnieżne Kotły" instead of Wielki Szyszak/Vysoké Kolo.
And here is the glossary for the route planner:
z – from
do – to
dodaj punkt pośredni – add a point en route
odwróć trasę – reverse the route
There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels on either side of the Giant Mountains.
The nearest mountain huts are located within an hour's walk from the summit:
When To Go/Mountain Conditions
Under winter conditions crampons are often a must although they may only be needed in a few places on the approach routes.
Mountain conditions (in Polish)
Mountain rescue phone numbers:
Poland +48 601100300
Czech Republic +420 1210
- The info in the "Winter chapter" above was supplied by the first owner of the Ciucaş page, namely cernomor
- Most of the winter photos featured on this page were taken by Andreea Corodeanu