Szpiglasowy Wierch (Polish) - introduced in the second half o the 20th century, derived from the German word Spießglas, it is a reference to stibnite (antimonite) that was once mined nearby
Hrubý štít (Slovak) - can be translated as Mighty Peak
Liptauer Grenzberg (German) / Liptói-határhegy (Hungarian) - means a mountain on the border of the region of Liptov
Glossary (Polish/Slovak = English)
wierch (pronounced vyerkh)/vrch or szczyt/štít (shtit) = peak
przełęcz (psheh-wentsch)/sedlo = pass/saddle
dolina/dolina = valley
staw (stahv)/pleso = tarn
schronisko/chata = hut
polana/poľana = clearing/glade
Szpiglasowy Wierch rises from the main ridge of the Tatras to a height of 2172 m where the lateral ridge of Miedziane, separating Morskie Oko (Sea Eye) tarn and Pięć Stawów Polskich (Five Polish Tarns), connects to it around two kilometers west of Morskie Oko. The peak is the highest on the main ridge between Cubryna/Čubrina and Świnica/Svinica and is easily accessible from Szpiglasowa Przełęcz at 2110 m, which divides Szpiglasowy Wierch from the massif of Miedziane and is crossed by the more demanding (waymarked with yellow stripes) of the two hiking trails linking Morskie Oko and Dolina Pięciu Stawów.
Szpiglasowy Wierch seen from Szpiglasowa Przełęcz
The peak makes for a pretty easy winter goal, but bear in mind that avalanche danger is often considerable. In 2001 an avalanche on the northwest side of Szpiglasowa Przełęcz claimed the lives of two climbers and another avalanche killed two members of the rescue team that was called into action.
Both Szpiglasowa Przełęcz and Szpiglasowy Wierch give impressive views into Dolina Pięciu Stawów to the west as well as the highest peaks in the Polish Tatras, especially Cubryna and Mięguszowiecki/Mengusovský Peak, to the east. Szpiglasowy Wierch also commands southerly views including that of Nižné Temnosmrečinské pleso.
Nižné Temnosmrečinské pleso and Kôprová dolina from Szpiglasowy Wierch
Cubryna and Mięguszowiecki from Szpiglasowa Przełęcz - by Tomek Lodowy
Dolina Pięciu Stawów Polskich from Szpiglasowa Przełęcz - by Tomek Lodowy
Routes (from nearest huts) & Maps
Szpiglasowy Wierch can only be legally climbed via Szpiglasowa Przełęcz, which is crossed by the yellow trail connecting Morskie Oko to Pięć Stawów. From the pass an unmarked path, of which the last several meters are a bit exposed, will take you to the summit in less than a quarter of an hour. The yellow trail from Morskie Oko goes at YDS Class 1, whereas on the other side of the pass its highest stretch is a chain-assisted Class 3. The trail is usually crowded from the end of June to the end of August and on sunny Autumn weekends, unless you are there at dawn.
Trail from Pięć Stawów
The pass from the summit
Trail from Morskie Oko
Statistics (Way Up)
From Polana Palenica via Morskie Oko
Distance: 12 km Net elevation gain: 1182 m Time: 4 hr min
From Polana Palenica via Pięć Stawów
Distance: 12 km Net elevation gain: 1182 m Time: 4 hr 15 min
From Morskie Oko Hut
Distance: 4.3 km Net elevation gain: 762 m Time: 2 hr 15 min
From Pięć Stawów Hut
Distance: 4 km Net elevation gain: 501 m Time: over 2 hr
Winter routes do not always follow the yellow marks, especially the section between the Pięć Stawów Hut and the final ascent of Szpiglasowa Pass is in fact completely different and traverses the lower slopes of the Miedziane ridge. Avalanche risk is often considerable.
As for the paper maps, there are plenty of options readily available, for example please have a look here.
Huts & Camping
Morskie Oko Hut
Pięć Stawów Hut
Schronisko przy Morskim Oku at 1410 m. It has two buildings: the 'new' one (built over a hundred years ago), which resembles a mountain hotel a bit, and the 'old' one - in fact the oldest existing mountain hut in the Polish Tatras
Roztoka Hut at 1031m - a truly atmospheric place, one of the very best mountain huts in Poland, located at the mouth of the Roztoka Valley, 15 min off Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza falls
Szałasiska campsite for rock climbers at about 1350 m, just above Polana Włosienica - a rudimentary campground that offers places in tents; the price is higher for those who are not members of UIAA
In high season expect all the huts (and the campsite) to be fully booked. If so, you can normally get a place on the floor, which in 2017 cost an equivalent of €10 in the Morskie Oko Hut and €7 in the other huts.
Getting There (to nearest huts)
On the tarmac road
Polana Palenica (Palenica Clearing), where you will most likely be entering the national park, lies east of Zakopane, 12km away as the crow flies and nearly 25 km away by road. Zakopane sits at the foot of the Tatra Mountains about 100 km south of Kraków, where there's an international airport. (BTW The city of Kraków certainly boasts one of the most interesting old towns in East Central Europe.) It should take you less than two hours to drive from Kraków to Zakopane, but at the weekend or in high season, it often takes more than 3.5 hrs, which is how long a journey by train lasts. As for the buses, check out this website. (The station adjoins the central railway station 'Kraków Główny'.) In Zakopane, minibuses to Polana Palenica (car park and bus/minibus terminus) leave from in front of the entrance to the railway station.
Polana Palenica sits in the valley of River Białka, at about 990 m. On sunny summer days the pay car park there (parking cost an equivalent of €6 per day in 2017; entry fee to the national park a little more than €1 per person) fills up very quickly, so unless you go at dawn it is a good idea to use public transport. From Polana Palenica you walk up the valley along the same tarmac road for 3 km until you get to the falls named after a famous Polish poet, i.e. Wodogrzmoty Mickiewicza. From the falls you either continue along the tarmac road to Morskie Oko or turn right to follow green marks up the Roztoka Valley, whose uppermost part cradles the Five Polish Tarns and takes its name from them. The walk from Polana Palenica up the tarmac road (later with several shortcuts marked with red stripes) to the hut that sits by Morskie Oko is 8 km long, which translates to about 1 hr 45 min of walking, the elevation gain being 420 m. (About 25 min before Morskie Oko is Polana Włosienica, where you can also get by horse-drawn wagon (or sleigh in winter). A few hundred meters past the place is a restaurant with decent toilets next to it.) The hike from Polana Palenica to the Five Polish Tarns Hut takes about 2 hr 45 min (the distance is about 8 km with 670 m of ascent).
Valley of Roztoka & Five Polish Tarns - by Konrad Sus
The Tatra Mountains are a national park in which you must keep to waymarked trails. Bivouacking is not permitted. In theory, after dark you are supposed to leave the national park or stay in a mountain hut. Rock climbing is not permitted in the vicinity of Szpiglasowy Wierch, which means that you are not allowed to hike along the adjacent sections of the main ridge of the Tatras. This is a pity, because the section of the ridge between Szpiglasowy Wierch and Przełęcz Chałubińskiego (Chałubiński's Pass), named Szpiglasowa Grań, offers a fine scramble of an easy YDS Class 4 (if you traverse the pinnacles).
There are two outstanding mountains in the Pieniny: Trzy Korony and Sokolica. Both are located on the Polish side of the grand Dunajec Gorge. Sokolica--part of the Pieninki (Little Pieniny) ridge divided from the broad massif of Trzy Korony by the valley of Pieniński Potok--is much lower and smaller than Trzy Korony, but proudly claims the title of the prettiest crag in the Pieniny. At just 747m, the peak towers around 300m over the river not far from the lower end of the canyon. The summit gives sublime views into the canyon and towards the Tatras. Trzy Korony to the west and the highest summit in the Pieniny, Wysoka/Wysokie Skałki/Vysoké Skalky to the east can also be viewed from here. People admiring the views are protected by a guardrail, first set here at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Dunajec and Trzy Korony seen from the summit - by visentin
The name of the mountain is a one-word version of what means Falcons’ Rock. Whereas the north side of Sokolica is fairly steep and forested, its south face is a sheer, bare, white limestone cliff. Big falcons have stopped nesting here, but kestrels are still around. On the summit grow some ancient pine trees, estimated to be up to five hundred years old. One crooked specimen is so pretty and brave that it has become a top photography model (photos below).
Sotheast from the summit - towards the highest peaks in the Pieniny
An all-year-round key base for Sokolica is the town of Krościenko, which lies on the left bank of the Dunajec just below the lower end of its gorge. The green-stripe trail that begins in the quaint town square makes a circuit reaching Przełęcz Sosnów (Sosnów pass), from which you will get (via blue marks) to the summit of Sokolica in less than a quarter of an hour. The waymarking is excellent, so you won’t have any difficulty finding your way. As for the green trail linking Krościenko to Sosnów pass, its western branch--following the crest of the Pieninki--is more attractive, especially where it climbs Czerteż at 774m, between Burzana pass and Czertezik. Actually, that stretch-- YDS Class 2, slippery when wet, partly exposed and secured with metal railing—is waymarked with blue stripes, while the green trail makes an easy, nearly horizontal traverse of Czerteż. It takes about 75 minutes to get from Krościenko’s town square to the summit of Sokolica, the longest being the variant climbing Czerteż. (Times given by signposts, maps and guidebooks are usually considerably longer.) The distance is 3.5–4km, total elevation gain 350–400m.
From late April to October a quite unusual variant is a hike from the resort town of Szczawnica (blue marks), which sits on the other, right bank of the Dunajec. The unusual thing about this hike is that you cross the river in a raft (for an equivalent of less than €1 per person in 2018). From the river it will take you around 40min to get to the summit. Except for the summer holiday season (July-August), this option may not be readily available on weekdays and is never available before 8am or after 7pm (in September until 6pm, October until 5pm).
The ferry crossing
Surely Sokolica can and often is climbed along with Trzy Korony during the same day hike. The start point of such a hike can be either of the two above-mentioned towns at the lower end of the Dunajec Gorge or the village of Sromowce Niżne at the upper end of the canyon. The Slovak villages across the river offer fewer accommodation options and require a tad longer access.
(Ignore the 'red trail' on the left bank of the Dunajec on the Czech map above - it does not exist.)
A drive from the city of Kraków is over 100km long. A journey by bus, or rather minibus, takes a little over two hours.
From Zakopane you can get to Krościenko/Szczawnica by car in about 75min (if the road between Zakopane and Nowy Targ is not jammed). If you go by bus, you will have to change at Nowy Targ.
During the summer months, especially July and August, the crowds are enormous. April and autumn weekdays are the best options. Autumn provides the most colourful views. There are no bears in the Pieniny, but ticks may pose some threat.
Sokolica from the Slovak village of Lesnica - by Tomek Lodowy
VIDEO by LukZem
VIDEO by LukZem
or older version
Hrubý Jeseník(High Jesenik), which is called Hohes Gesenke by Germans, is the highest massif in the Eastern Sudetes/Jeseníky. It lies in the territory of the Czech Republic, namely in the north of Moravia, between the Rychlebské Mountains to the northwest, Góry Opawskie/Zlatohorská vrchovina (Opava Mountains/Zlaté Hory Highlands) to the northeast, Nízký Jeseník (Low Jesenik) to the southeast and the Hanušovice Highlands to the west. The roughly Y-shaped area (530 sq. km) of the massif is made up of three mountain groups:
Pradědskáhornatina (Praděd Group) in the south
Keprnická hornatina (Keprnik Group) in the northwest
Medvědská hornatina (Medvědí vrch Group) in the northeast
Hrubý Jeseník is composed mostly of ancient gneisses and schists. The sides of the massif can be very steep whereas its ridges are broad and rather flat. The highest summits rise a little above timberline. In a few places there are traces of small Pleistocene glaciers, the most distinct of them being the corries on the eastern side of Vysoká hole (Velká kotlina/Velký kotel) and Červená hora (Sněžná kotlina).
The table below features Hrubý Jeseník summits that have both an elevation of over 1200 m and a prominence of at least 100 m.
The main ridge of the High Jeseník forms the backbone of the Praděd and Keprník groups. Its south end is the saddle of Skřítek at 874 m, from which it runs north-northeast to Vysoká hole, the second highest summit of these mountains. Before Vysoká hole, at the summit of Velký Máj, the huge lateral ridge of Mravenečník branches off the main ridge to extend to the northwest. Its very top, Dlouhé stráně, contains the reservoir of a pumped-storage hydroelectric plant (please see chapter 6). To the north of the summit of of Vysoká hole, its secondary summit, Petrovy kameny (1446 m), is topped with an interesting group of rocks. Just over two kilometers north of the summit of of Vysoká hole is the highpoint of Hrubý Jeseník, Praděd, with a modern, 162 m tall communications and observation tower. From Praděd the main ridge runs north-northwest to Malý Děd, where it takes a turn west-northwest towards the pass dividing the Praděd group from the Keprník group. The pass, Červenohorské sedlo, has an elevation of 1013 m and takes its name from nearby Červená hora (Red Mountain), the second highest mountain of the Keprník group.
NW of Praděd
From Červenohorské sedlo the main ridge stretches generally north-northwest to Červená hora, then Keprník and finally Šerák at 1351 m. Between Červená hora and Keprník, the spur of Vozka sticks out to the southwest. The summit of Vozka at 1377 m, which sits less than a half-hour walk from the main ridge, boasts one of the most attractive groups of tors in the High Jeseník. The mountain sends off ridges to the west, southwest and south, of which the southwest ridge, running to and past Černá stráň, is the longest and most massive.
On Červená hora
Summit of Vozka
On NW side of Šerák
The traverse of the main ridge of Hrubý Jeseník
Jeseník (460 m) - yellow marked route - Lipová (480 m) - Javořík (700 m) - Pod Strmým (800 m) - blue marked route - Pod Šerákem (1270 m) - yellow marked route - Šerák (1351 m) - blue marked route - Pod Keprníkem (1280 m) - red marked route - Keprník (1423 m) - Trojmezí (1316 m) - Vozka (1370 m) - yellow marked route - Vozka, rocks (1350 m) - green marked route - Sedlo pod Vřesovkou (1210 m) - red marked route - Vřesová studánka (1250 m) - Bílý sloup (1190 m) - Červenohorské sedlo (1013 m) - Klínovec (1100 m) - Malý Jezerník (1200 m) - Slatě (1299 m) - Švýcárna (1320 m) - Praděd, crossroad (1420 m) - blue marked route - Praděd (1492 m) - Praděd, crossroad (1420 m) - red marked route - Pod Pradědem - Barborka, hut (1320 m) - Ovčárna (1320 m) - Nad Ovčárnou (1380 m) - Vysoká hole (1460 m) - Kamzičník (1419 m) - Nad Malým kotlem (1335 m) - green marked route - Jelení studánka (1311 m) - Pecný (1334 m) - Pod Ztracenými kameny (1100 m) - Nad Skřítkem (890 m) - red marked route - Skřítek (874 m) - blue marked route - Klepačov (705 m) - Svobodín (740 m) - red marked route - Pod Smrčinou (630 m) - Údolí Merty (450 m). Length : 57 km, 19 hours
Orlík (right) seen from Medvědí vrch
Medvědská hornatina (whose Polish name is Masyw Orlika, after the second highest summit in the group, Orlík at 1204 m) connects to the Praděd Group via the pass of Vidly (Videlské sedlo) at 930 m and is divided from the Keprník Group by the valley of the Bělá River. It is more or less equal in area to the Keprník Group, but it is over 200 m lower and does not rise above the tree line, which results in it being less attractive to the hiker. In fact, its most visited corner sits far away from its highest summits (devoid of waymarked trails) and is completely flat, since it is a peat bog by Rejvíz pass at the northeast end of this mountain group. Rejvíz pass separates the Medvědí vrch Group from Zlaté Hory Highlands, which used to be called the foothills of the High Jesenik.
Rejvíz National Nature Reserve
Man-made Structures on Summits
On the top of Praděd, there is a TV tower, 162 m high, and a top of this tower is the highest (although non-natural) point in the Czech Republic. First outlook-tower on the top, in a form of a gothic castle, was built in 1903-1912, and was 32.5 m high. This tower collapsed 2nd May 1959. Construction of present tower started in 1968. It was finished in 1983.
The dam was built in 1996. The upper reservoir (1350 m; capacity 2.7 millions cubic meters) is connected with the power plant by two feeders (1547 and 1499 m long). The power plant is connected with the lower reservoir by two tubes with diameter 5.2 m (354 and 390 m long). The lower reservoir is located on the Divoká Desná River (capacity of 3.4 millions cubic meters) The power station is situated in the heart of the mountain. It has the biggest reverse water turbine in the Europe (325 MW), it is a power plant with the biggest gradient in the Czech Republic (510.7 m) and it is most powerfull in the Czech Republic (2 x 325 MW).
Views from the summit of Jizera are excellent. There are hardly any buildings in sight – mostly mountain ranges and woodland. In the southeast, beyond conical Bukovec, rise the Giant Mountains (Krkonoše/Karkonosze). In the east, the characteristic cone of Ještěd capped with a communications spire catches the eye. The northeastern horizon is formed by the undulating Wysoki Grzbiet (High Ridge) with Smrk and Stóg Izerski to the north, and Zielona Kopa (the massif whose highpoint is Wysoka Kopa) and Wysoki Kamień in the east.
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.