Giewont(1894) - One of the most characteristic peaks of Tatra Mountains situated in their western part, north to the main Tatra range, on Polish side .
Giewont from Kasprowy Wierch
A few kilometer long ,prominent, lime, rocky massif rises high above the town of Zakopane. It is the most distinctive peak in the area and it has been referred to as the "Sleeping Knight" based on its silhouette and old legend.
Giewont is a symbolic mountain and has a special place in Polish national spirit and identity.
It also one of the most popular mountain targets for hikers from the whole Poland, so don't be suprised when you find it horribly overcrowded, especially in summer season (July,August).
Massif offers great views and wonderful summit panorama in all directions.
It is unknown who was first to climb Giewont - most probably those were local shepherds in 17th or 18th century.
The first known and documented ascent was made by Franz Herbich in 1832.
First winter ascent: 3.01.1904 - Mariusz Zaruski with companions.
Giewont from Krzeptowki
3 km long Giewont massif stretches from Kalatowki in the east to Dolina Malej Laki(Little Meadow Valley) in the west.
From eastern and southern side it is surrounded by Dolina Bystrej(Bystra's Valley) area with its upper section of Kondratowa Valley.
Western slopes of the massif fall to Malej Laki Valley.
From the north side there are two valleys of Bialego and Strazyska. Giewont rises above them 600 meter high vertical walls.
In long Giewont ridge, one can distinguish 3 main culminations.
These are from the west : Maly Giewont(1728) (Little) Wielki Giewont(1894) (Great) Dlugi Giewont(1867) (Long)
Peaks of Wielki Giewont and Dlugi Giewont are divided by deep Szczerba pass(1823).
The whole Giewont massif is build of lime and dolomite rocks.
First of all You need to get to the town of Zakopane.
The bus ride from Cracow takes only 2 hours - there are lots of bus lines, the most popular ones are PKS, "Szwagropol" and "Trans Frej").
All of them start their courses at Cracow's Central Railway/Bus station where you can also choose train connection but it will take you much more time - about 3,5 hours and the difference in costs is none.
As far as costs are concerned - nowadays you have to pay 20 zlotys (4,5 Euro) for single, one way ticket.
There are several ways to climb Giewont from Zakopane.
The most popular and the easiest one leads from Kuznice ( a few km walk from the centre of Zakopane or take one of hundreds of buses) to Hala Kondratowa and then to Kondratowa Pass(1772) from which the main peak of Giewont is very close - (blue marks ,3 hours max)
You can walk straight there from the town. At the end of Kasprusie street, you can follow the red trail through Strazyska valley. It is about a three hour hike all in all, culminating in a difficult rocky stretch at the end.
Another marked route of extreme beauty leads from Dolina Malej Laki (Malej Laki Valley) through wonderful meadows just under huge lime cliffs of Wielka Turnia to Kondracka Pass (Yellow marks ,3-3,5 hours)
Alternatively you could take the cable-car from Kuznice to Kasprowy Wierch peak. From there you can follow red trail over the peaks of Czuba Goryczkowa(1912) , Kopa Kondracka(2005) all the way to Giewont itself. This is quite a big hike, taking some ten hours or so.
Kuznice - Kalatowki - Bialego Pass(1306) - Bialego Valley - Czerwona Pass(1301) - (10 minutes to Sarnia Skala's summit(1377) - Pol.Strazyska -
- W Grzybowcu Pass(1311) - Mala Laka Valley - Przyslop Mietusi Pass(1189) - Mietusia Valley - Koscieliska Valley .
Black marks (so called "Sciezka Nad Reglami" (Path over Regle)) ,10 km ,3 1/2 h
Zakopane - Bialego Valley (White Valley) - Crossing with black marked "Sciezka nad Reglami" route .
Yellow marks ,5 km ,340 m of HD
Zakopane - Ku Dziurze Valley (To the Hole Valley) - Dziura Cave(1020) (Hole) .
Black marks ,3 km ,180 m of HD ,3/4 h
Kuznice - Nosal Peak(1206)
Green marks ,1.7 km ,270 m of HD ,3/4 h
Giewont Area - Map
Tatrzanski Park Narodowy (Polish Tatra National Park) map, in scale 1:25 000, description in 8 languages, ISBN 83-87873-37-3, available in all shops and book stores in Zakopane . Here you can check the net version
You can climb (hike) all year. However, the best time of year to climb is from September through October when the Tatras around Zakopane characteristically have sunny weather. The summers are prone to rain and thunder storms and what also important for all those who love silence and calm in the mountains - the area is usually overcrowded during summer season (July,August).
In winter you will need good equipment including snow shows or crampons.
Watch out for alpine climbing restrictions of Tatra National Park(TPN)!
You can climb (hike) all year round.
The marked route (its upper section) leading from Grzybowiec to Kondracka Wyznia Pass just under the main summit of Giewont is usually closed for winter season due to serious avalanche danger on traverses.
There are National Park restrictions for alpine climbing.
Unfortunately great 600 meter high north wall is officially closed for alpine climbing.
There are many possibilities to stay overnight in Zakopane.
If You want to sleep closer to the mountains, you can choose one of the mountain shelters or hotels, for example little mountain shelter at Hala Kondratowa(1333) close to the main marked route to Giewont or quite expensive but surely very comfortable (Kalatowki mountain hotel)
The Legend of Boleslaw and his Knights
When King Boleslaw died (11th century), Poland lost a very able and brave ruler, one who had united her and made her into a really great and powerful country. But is Boleslaw lost to Poland?, Some say no, for all those there is a legend about Boleslaw and his Knights.
They say that Boleslaw, and his Knights who fought with him for the country ,a great warrior who earned the title of the Brave(Chrobry) by trashing Poland's enemies went into a mountain called Giewont. This mountain forms part of the Tatra mountain range, and its shape, as seen from a certain angle looks like a body of a sleeping Knight.
Within the mountain there is a huge dark cavern where King Boleslaw and his Knights sleeps. They are mounted on horses, with their swords beside them and lances couched. And if Poland needs them in the time of great danger then some one must awake them, and they will ride forward to serve her.
But once they have gone forward, they will never return.
It's just one and very short of many versions of the Sleeping Knights legend
Useful POL-ENG Mountain Vocabulary
gora - mountain
szczyt - peak ,summit
wierch - peak
wierzcholek - top ,summit
turnia - crag
przelecz - pass
gran - ridge
grzbiet - range
filar - pillar
zebro - rib
n.p.m. - above sea level
sciana - wall
zleb - gully ,couloir
urwisko ,przepasc - cliff ,precipice
morena - moraine
skala - rock
piarg - scree
kamien ,glaz ,wanta - stone
dolina - valley
wawoz ,przelom - gorge
staw ,jezioro - lake
polana - meadow ,alp ,glade
schronisko - chalet ,refuge
schron ,szalas - shelter
deszcz - rain
snieg - snow
lawina - avalanche
taternik - Tatra climber
raki - crampons
czekan - ice axe
lina - rope
kask - helmet
narty - skis
namiot - tent
John Paul II (1920-2005)
Benedicite Montes Dominum !
"I love these mountains; up here one breathes with the pure mountain air the mysterious invitation to faith and conversion."
--Vacationing in the Italian Alps, 1990.
Majesty of the Mountains
In front of the majesty of the mountains we are pushed to establish a more respectful relationship with nature....At the same time...we are stimulated to meditate upon the gravity of so many desecrations of nature, often carried out with inadmissible nonchalance.
--Lorenzago Dicardore, Italy, discussing hiking in the Dolomite Mountains, July 15, 1996
Rest in the Mountains
Every time that I have the opportunity to rest in the mountains and contemplate these landscapes, I thank God for the majestic beauty of creation. I thank him for his own Beauty, of which the universe is a reflection, capable of fascinating attentive souls, urging them to praise its greatness.
--Message to Benedictines for 1500th Anniversary, July 11, 1999
I thank the Lord for giving me the opportunity to spend a time of rest again this year in this charming mountainous locality, which brings to mind the majestic presence of God.