Czerwone Wierchy

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 49.23155°N / 19.90976°E
Activities Activities: Hiking, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 6962 ft / 2122 m
Sign the Climber's Log


   Czerwone Wierchy (Polish)  Červené vrchy (Slovak)  Vörös-hegyek  (Hungarian)
Alpine Karst of the Red Peaks
Photo by LukZem
Glossary: wierch/vrch = peak, turnia = crag, grzbiet/hrebeň = ridge, przełęcz/sedlo = saddle, dolina = valley, potok = creek, żleb = couloir
The massif of Czerwone Wierchy is made up of three summits at about 2,100m each - Krzesanica at 2,122mMałołączniak and Ciemniak at 2,096m each - plus an easternmost outlier named Kopa Kondracka at 2,005m. The name Czerwony Wierch (singular) was originally used for Małołączniak whereas today Czerwone Wierchy (plural) is the name of the four-summit massif between the Dolina Kościeliska in the west and Tomanowa Przełęcz/Tomanovské sedlo (1686m) in the southwest, and two passes north and east of Kopa Kondracka in the east. All the red in the toponyms here, albeit indirectly, is connected with the rock type. But this time the colour does not indicate the usual suspect, the rusty iron compounds, despite iron ore having been mined in the sides of the massif a couple of centuries ago. On the limestone and dolomite rocks that form the bulk of the Red Peaks lies a granitoid, acidic cap of Małołączniak, which yields poor soil, only good enough for some hardy grasses, such as highland rush and the endemic Oreochloa disticha, which turn red easily and early, already in July. Except for the granitoid patch the massif is full of caves, including the largest cave system in the Tatras. NW face of Krzesanica

Summits of Czerwone Wierchy
The north face of Czerwone Wierchy: Wielka Turnia (Great Crag, far left); Czerwony Grzbiet (Red Ridge) & Małołączniak left of centre; Krzesanica centre; Ciemniak top right - photo by Konrad Sus


Krzesanica (2122m) from W
Krzesanica seen from the west - photo by Fluffy

Krzesanica (Polish)

Kresanica (Slovak)

Vésett-kő  (Hungarian)

In mid-C19 in Poland known as Zadni Upłaz


Elevation: 2122m

Prominence: 323m

Krzesanica is the highest limestone summit within the territory of Poland. Its finest feature is its northwestern, vertical face which forms the headwall of the Mułowa Dolina. There are cliffs on its northeastern flank too, and southerly, into the Slovak territory, Krzesanica sends a craggy spur called Rozpadlý grúň, which looks fairly similar to the Czerwony Grzbiet of Małołączniak. To summit Krzesanica you have to climb either Małołączniak or Ciemniak first.
Czerwone Wierchy - 2123m
Kresanica (centre) from SE
Rozpadly grun
S Ridge (Rozpadlý grúň)
Top of Krzesanica's Cliff
Summit seen from W


Małołączniak, 2096m.
Małołączniak seen from Kopa Kondracka - photo by Zyta

Małołączniak (Polish)

Malolúčniak (Slovak)

Kis-réti-hegy (Hungarian)

In mid-C19 in Poland known as Czerwony Wirch 


Elevation: 2096m

Prominence: 59m

Małołączniak sits just east of Krzesanica. The lateral ridge it sends to the northwest has kept its old name Czerwony Grzbiet (Red Ridge). The ridge slopes rather gently to the northwest for several hundred metres to suddenly drop, partly vertically a few hundred metres down. Of the cliffy walls Wielka Turnia (Great Crag) - 1847m high and approximately 350m tall - is especially impressive. Plunging into the Dolina Małej Łąki (Valley of Little Meadow) from the northeast edge of the Red Ridge, it offers fun winter climbing, unfortunately forbidden recently. Along the Red Ridge runs probably the most interesting of the trails that lead to the tops of Czerwone Wierchy, waymarked with blue stripes. This trail is my favourite route within the massif. It is less frequented than the other trails in the area and has extraordinary views, a decent couloir and chamois.

The Blue Trail

Distance: 7.5km     Time3.5h (up)     Elevation Gain: 1170m        

Extra elevation gain on Małołączniak-Krzesanica-Ciemniak: total 110m (time: 0.5h)

Back down to bus stop/car park from Ciemniak/Małołączniak: 2.5h

Dolina Małej Łąki
Dolina Małej Łąki (Little Meadow Valley) - photo by Konrad Sus
Walls of Wielka Świstówka Wlk. Świstówka from blue trail
Red Ridge against Red Peaks
Czerwony Grzbiet from E Red Ridge from E

While in Zakopane, get on any of the frequently running minibuses heading for Dolina Kościeliska/Chochołowska and get off at the stop called Gronik. The trailhead is a couple of hundred metres back in the direction of Zakopane. If you come by car, you can park it right at the trailhead, which is at the mouth of the Valley of Mała Łąka (Little Meadow). The trail leads rather gently up the stream until after about 20 minutes you get to the junction with the yellow trail. Then a steeper part follows, which takes you to a broad pass named Przysłop Miętusi, where two trails intersect in the middle of a clearing. The place is watched over by the characteristic Eljaszowa Turnia (Eljasz's Crag). Przysłop Miętusi is a good spot to have a snack (two rest spots with a wooden table and benches: one in the middle picture above and the other at the edge of the forest) and admire a dramatic view of the north, craggy walls of Czerwone Wierchy. To the west, there is an interesting view of Kominiarski Wierch.

Eljasz's Crag
Eljaszowa Turnia
Czerwone Wierchy from Przysłop Miętusi
Przysłop Miętusi
Kominiarski Wierch from Przysłop Miętusi
Kominiarski Wierch

Having left Przysłop Miętusi the blue trail turns into a narrow path, which sticks to the eastern flank of the Miętusia Valley and runs more or less along the contour line of 1200m, through a spruce forest. It is now really hard to imagine but in the 19th century this part of the trail served the miners who excavated iron ore in the tunnels dug into the rock below your feet. The iron was then smelted where today the lower cable car station stands. An alternate name of our blue trail is the Miner Track... After three quarters of an hour our trail climbs up the slope a little, still less than a hundred metres, then again continues almost horizontally. Spectacular views open up towards the huge, glacially moulded steps of the Litworowa and Mułowa valleys, which form the headwall of the Miętusia Valley that is called Wielka Świstówka. All the three cirques are devoid of tarns as this is karst terrain.

Nearing Tree Line on Blue Trail
Nearing tree line
NW Bluffs of Red Ridge
NW bluffs of Red Ridge
At Doorway to Red Ridge
Core part of ascent

But our trail, unfortunately, doesn't go up the steps leading to the cirques (that would be more than YDS class 4), but turns left to enter a wide couloir named Kobylarzowy Żleb (Kobylarz's Couloir), just like the rib and the crag on its left. There's lots of scree, some interesting flora in the early summer, and even about twenty metres of steel chain to secure your passage by the only point en route where it is impossible to proceed without using your hands. But for the chains, this steep and rather slick slab of limestone (approximately a dozen metres tall) would make for a Class 4 (YDS) climb. But the chains have converted this point into just a Class 3 problem. While walking above the upper end of the chains, be careful not to kick a stone on someone climbing down there.

Upper chains in Kobylarz Couloir
The chained slab
Kobylarzowy Żleb
Kobylarzowy Żleb
Rocks at Top of Kobylarzowy Żleb
At the top of the couloirs

Having hiked around 3 hours, you finally reach the gently sloping top of Czerwony Grzbiet (Red Ridge). Another nice place to have a little rest and an interesting view of the nearby Giewont across the Little Meadow Valley. On the other side of the ridge, several kilometres to the west, beyond the Polish-Slovak border rises the grand ridge of the so called Orawa Tatras, in Slovakia known as the Roháče.

Giewont from Red Ridge
Looking east: Giewont
Above Kobylarzowy Żleb
Above the couloir
Orawa Tatras Labelled
Orawa Tatras (labelled)

The last - rather gentle although about 250m up anyway and a bit tiring - section of the trail will take you over the Red Ridge to the very summit of Małołączniak in less than half an hour. The summit offers an outstanding panorama of the Slovak High Tatras.

Małołączniak via Red Ridge The uppermost stretch of the blue trail with the summit of Małołączniak
High Tatras from Małołączniak The High Tatras viewed from the summit of Małołączniak

The Chamois

An hour or two before sunset, when almost all hikers have gone, encounters with chamois are highly likely. (Once I was lucky to face a bold young buck that barred the trail, hissing at me and kicking the ground with his front hoof so that I wouldn't dare get closer to his two female companions.)
Chamois on Małołączniak
Greener Grass
Crowded Trail
Why should we go?
Czerwone Wierchy from Ornak
The west face from across Dolina Kościeliska. Tomanowa Pass to the right. The red trail runs along the shoulder left of the summit - photo by Visentin

Ciemniak (Polish)

Temniak (Slovak)

Sötét-hegy (Hungarian)

In mid-C19 in Poland known as Czerwony Wirch Upłaziański


Elevation: 2096m

Prominence: 29m

Ciemniak is ascended by two trails from the Kościeliska Valley. The red trail begins around a mile from the mouth of the valley and runs up the northwest shoulder of Ciemniak. The green one leads up the valley as far as Ornak Hut, turns east along Tomanowy Creek, then - instead of reaching the nearby main ridge of the Tatras - turns north crossing the western slopes of Ciemniak to connect to the red trail about a kilometre from the summit. The winter photos below were taken by Ivona.
Ciemniak seen from trail to Ornak
Seen from W
Ridge of Ciemniak-Tatra(solo trip)
On the red trail
Before reaching Ciemniak(solo trip)
Nearing the summit
Panorama of Tatra from Ciemniak(solo trip)
Summit view, December

Kopa Kondracka

Kopa Kondracka (2006 m)
Seen from the trail to Giewont – photo by Henryk

Kopa Kondracka (Polish)

Kondratova kopa (Slovak)

Konrád-púp (Hungarian)

In mid-C19 in Poland known as Kondratowa


Elevation: 2096m

Prominence: 81m

From the upper station of the cable car at Kasprowy Wierch, it takes less than two hours to hike (via red marks) to the summit of Kopa Kondracka via a pretty scenic part of the Tatras' main ridge. However, unless you go off season, trying to get a ticket can be difficult and time-consuming, or simply put a waste of time. Kopa Kondracka can also be climbed via Kondracka Pass. Such a hike is usually combined with an ascent of Giewont. Kondracka Pass is reached either through the scenic valley of Mała Łąka (yellow marks) or the Kondratowa Valley (blue marks, trailhead in Kuźnice at the base station of the cable car).
Kopa Kondracka
Cable car to Kasprowy
Suche Czuby
On trail from Kasprowy
Kondratova kopa
Dolina Kondratowa
Kopa Kondracka & Małołączniak
Kopa Kondracka on the left

Maps online map online map


As for analogue maps, several versions are available at bookshops, souvenir shops and street stands in Zakopane. One of the best options is the plastic 1:25,000 map of the Polish and Slovak Tatras by WiT.

Getting There

The Polish Western Tatras seen from Czarny Dunajec
Giewont (left) and Czerwone Wierchy seen from the north - photo by visentin

Zakopane sits at the foot of the Tatra Mountains about 100 km south of Kraków, where there is an international airport. (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 weekends or in high season it often takes more than 3.5hrs, which is more or less how long a journey by train lasts. As for the buses, check out this website. (The station adjoins the central railway station "Kraków Główny".)

Uncrowned king of the Carpathians In Tichá dolina
Access from Slovakia makes much less sense, although it is possible. The Slovak trail to Tomanowa Pass has been closed in order to prevent crowds from visiting the Tichá dolina (Silent Valley, where a great many bears live) so you have to make a terribly long detour.

Red Tape

In Poland you have to pay for entry to the Tatra Mountains National Park – the fee is currently (2024) a bit less than an equivalent of €2 per day. The park rules are quite strict. In a nutshell, you are only allowed to walk along the marked trails. Rock climbing in the Western Tatras is forbidden for nature conservation reasons.

In Slovakia you don't pay an entry fee but the trails are closed from 1 November to 15 June. Here are the detailed regulations for diverse activities.

Cervene Vrchy peaks from Zavory
Czerwone Wierchy seen from ESE: Krzesanica left, Małołączniak centre, Kopa Kondracka right of centre - by Tomek Lodowy



Noclegi/Kwatery/Zakwaterowanie - Accommodation

Apartamenty – self-catering flats/apartments

Domki - chalets

Ośrodki wypoczynkowe – lower standard hotels / guesthouses / holiday camps

Pola namiotowe – rudimentary campsites

Wille – B&B/guesthouses

Campingi - campsites

Motele – motels

Pensjonaty – B&B/guesthouses

Wynajem pokoi – guesthouses

Hotele – hotels (varied standard)

  • The hut in the Kondratowa Valley is closed for renovation, which will last until at least 2025.
  • Ornak Hut in the Kościeliska Valley
  • In Zakopane or vicinity, for example: or
polish Tatra mountain, Kondratowa Hut
Hala Kondratowa Hut
Tatra mountain
Inside the hut
Hali Ornak Hut in Dolina Kościeliska
Ornak Hut


The Polish High Tatras seen from the heights somewhere on the north west of Zakopane
Neighbourhoods of Zakopane

Mountain Conditions & Rescue

Czerwone Wierchy seem to be incapable of creating any problems but several dozen people have perished on them. Most of the accidents have happened in wintry conditions (which does not necessarily mean winter, summer snow occasionally occurs too), but the summer fog has led to fatal accidents also as some people have fallen down the northern craggy walls after taking the wrong turn while trying to descend. Mountain rescue team's phone number: (+48) 601 100 300
Over the carpet of clouds
A westerly view from the summit of Małołączniak - photo by PiotrB

Select External Links

  • Letter to NP Management requesting that ban on climbing on the Great Crag should be lifted in winter (in Polish)
  • Guidebook Tatry Polskie by Józef Nyka (unfortunately available only in Polish)
Mała Łąka at twilight
Dolina Małej Łąki at twilight

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-3 of 3

SzaniUherkovich - Sep 10, 2013 2:03 pm - Hasn't voted

Hungarian names

Jacek, Did I already mention it? Konrád-púp / Kondracka Kopa Kis-réti-hegy / Małołaczniak Vésett-kő / Krzesanica Sötét-hegy / Ciemniak Cheers, Szani


yatsek - Sep 10, 2013 5:58 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Hungarian names

Köszönöm Szani!


SzaniUherkovich - Sep 11, 2013 3:52 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Hungarian names

Welcome! Later I will add some photos about these 4 hills, too

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.