Red Rocks from SE: Obłazowa left, Kramnica right. (Gorce Mts in background.)
Several kilometres before discharging into the Dunajec, the River Białka
flows between two rocky hills. The hills belong in the western reaches of the Pieniny Spiskie
, formed of limestone, wooded and jutting out like islands from a sea of flysch covered with meadows and fields. The pretty round hill on the left (west) bank of the Białka is called Obłazowa
and tops out at 670m
, whereas the elongated hill on the east bank is known as Kramnica
and reaches 688m
. Both hills can be easily climbed (YDS Class 2) as they only rise about 50m and 65m respectively over their foot. Obłazowa is more easily accessible than Kramnica and it also offers a little better views. On the other hand, you are more likely to find some solitude on Kramnica.
As the limestone forming Kramnica and Obłazowa is reddish in colour, the locals call the hills Czerwone Skałki, which translates as Red Rocks
. It seems to me that this name is slowly falling into disuse though. Both hills compose a nature reserve whose official name is Przełom Białki pod Krempachami (the Białka Gorge at Krempachy
Obłazowa seen from the car park. Kramnica seen from the top of Obłazowa
MapONLINE MAP on hiking.sk
River Białka approaching Obłazowa. Gorce Mountains in background. Kramnica's crags seen from the south.
Several versions of the paper map are available in bookshops in any of the nearby towns.
Getting There & Hiking Routes
I don't think you are likely to travel from afar just to climb these hills, however, while on holiday at the foot of the Tatras you may feel like paying them a visit. To get there from Zakopane, take the main road for Kraków (#47). At the first village (Poronin), just after passing the first bridge, turn right and head for Bukowina Tatrzańska. At the roundabout in Bukowina take the first exit to the left, then drive down to the other end of the village, where you will see the River Białka on your right. Do not cross the river but carry on straight, through the adjacent village of Białka Tatrzańska. About 1km after the church, at the junction, bear right into a narrow street. Drive out of the village, then straight through the crossroads. After 2km you will see Obłazowa on your right, just by the road. There is a car park (which used to be a field) at its very foot. The fees, about $1 per car in 2013, are collected by a local lady who also tends to her cows grazing nearby. To get to this place by public transport, take a minibus heading for Białka Tatrzańska or Czarna Góra Zagóra. Get off at Białka Grapa (near the end of the village), then continue down the road on foot for about 3km.
From the car park at the foot of Obłazowa, walk along the path across the adjacent field to a short, well-trodden path leading to a use trail circling the hill. If you follow the trail skirting Obłazowa in the anticlockwise direction, you will soon pass three shallow caves. The first cave is not to be entered as it is an extraordinary archeological site, still being dug. In this cave a unique, probably the world's oldest known boomerang was found, made over twenty thousand years ago of mammoth tusk. The second cave doesn't seem to be very interesting, unlike the third cave, whose entrance serves as a rock climbing spot providing a route which is both extremely short and extremely difficult.
The shortest way to get from the foot of Obłazowa to the foot of Kramnica is wading across the river. At low water it should be easy to find a suitable ford nearby so that your shorts can remain dry. Bear in mind the boulders in the river can be surprisingly slippery. The northern foot of Kramnica is terribly muddy near the river so it is wiser to make the crossing south of the hills, that is to say upstream.
If you want to cross the river dry-shod, there are two bridges nearby, downstream and upstream, each about two kilometres away. To get to Kramnica as close as possible by car, cross the bridge downstream, between the villages of Nowa Biała and Krempachy, then turn right at Krempachy along the road heading southwest. The road, which soon turns into a dirt road, will lead you just east of Kramnica, a few minutes’ walk from the hill. You can leave your car by the road. On the downside, it is rumoured that some cars parked there have been broken into.
From the road walk across the meadows towards the east end of the forested ridge of Kramnica, which stretches from west to east, then – still heading west along the north foot of the hill – look for a path dipping into the wood, then running up to the crest. The path will lead you along the top of the mountain – which makes for a rocky but wooded crest of limestone, a couple of metres wide – past its highpoint as far as you want to go (to the other, west end of the mountain by the River Białka if you like), from time to time offering a view north (to the village of Nowa Biała beyond the river and the Gorce Mountains
on the horizon) and finally a panoramic vista of the Tatras
rising about twenty kilometres to the south.
Another option, the best one for public transport users, is to leave the asphalt road at the east end of the village of Trybsz and follow the dirt road which begins at the fuel depot (Skład opałowy
). Keep to this track and you will get right to the foot of the principal rock climbing wall in about twenty minutes (you will have to cross a shallow brook halfway). Alternatively, you can walk into the meadows near the bridge over the Białka, then keep closer to the river using a combination of faint dirt tracks and bushwhacking, but this only makes sense if you like to enjoy some sights of the river as well as its soothing sound. At the right-hand end of the sheer cliff that forms the principal rock climbing wall, a narrow, clayey (very slippery when wet) path climbs to a little saddle. Just to the left of the saddle is the top of the climbing wall, from where you have fabulous views of the Tatras and of the river gorge itself. The path to the right will take you to the top of Kramnica.
Tatras seen from Kramnica.
Red Tape & Rock Climbing
There are several rock climbing routes on Obłazowa but the finest climbing is to be found on the south-facing crag of Kramnica which is situated right by the river. The topos can be seen here
. The problem is that the area is a nature reserve in which rock climbing
is officially forbidden
. Nevertheless, all the routes have been bolted in recent years and rock climbing seems to be tolerated by the occasional ranger as long as it is not accompanied by littering, camping or making bonfires.
When to Climb
In summer, except for September, expect crowds of holidaymakers sunbathing by and dipping in the river. There will be far fewer visitors in May, the first half of June, September, not to mention October.
Weather Forecast (AccuWeather)
There are a good many guesthouses and other types of accommodation in the nearby villages and towns, e.g. Zakopane. When booking online, I usually use this site
The Pieniny Spiskie with Kramnica at the right-hand edge.
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