vrch (pronounced vrkh)/wierch or štít (shtit)/szczyt = peak
sedlo/przełęcz (psheh-wentsch) = pass/saddle
dolina/dolina = valley
skala/skała = rock
pliesko/stawek (stahvek) = little tarn
potok/potok = brook
chata/schronisko = hut
poľana/polana = clearing/glade
malá/mała = little (feminine)
Dark, forested Sivý Vrch Group in front (Sivý vrch left, Babky right of centre); snow-sprinkled Roháče Group in background - photo by visentin Sivý vrch (
, prominence 235m
) with its three ridges forms a tiny, but distinct mountain group – the westernmost in the Western Tatras
. In the west the group is divided from the Choč Mountains
by the valley of Borová voda brook, Vyšné Hutianske Saddle at 950m, Javorina Saddle at 1185m and the Suchá (Sielnická) Valley. In the east the Jalovecká and Bobrovecká valleys along with Pálenica Saddle at 1570m and Pribišská brook separate the group of Sivý vrch from the granitoid group of Roháče.
West ridge of Sivý vrch seen from Ostrá
The northeast and west ridges of Sivý vrch are parts of the Tatras’ main ridge. The northeast ridge, which is is around 2km long and does not boast anything special, connects the summit to sedlo Pálenica. In contrast, the west ridge (nearly 4km long, ending at Vyšné Hutianske sedlo) is adorned with an array of fascinating, bizarrely-shaped dolomite rocks named Radové skaly
The largest and longest (over 6km) ridge within the Sivý Vrch Group is the lateral ridge that runs south from Sivý vrch summit. In fact, it is this mighty spur that allows us to think of the group of Sivý vrch as a distinct region of the Western Tatras. Apart from Sivý vrch the ridge has two conspicuous summits – Ostrá
of prominence), just south of Sivý vrch, and Babky
of prominence) at the south end of the ridge – both accessible via the waymarked trail. Besides, Malá kopa (1637m, 52m
) sitting in the middle of the ridge just south of Predúvratie Saddle and Malá Ostrá (1703m, 23m
) between Sivý vrch and Ostrá may be worth mentioning. The latter two summits are covered by thickets of dwarf pine.
South ridge from Sivý vrch: Ostrá on the right, Malá Ostrá (nearer, left of Ostrá), Malá Kopa (far, just left of centre) and Mních peeking out further left
The southeastern branches of the south ridge have broad and gentle tops, which drop dramatically into the Jalovecká Valley thus forming the outstanding cliffs of Mnich (1460m)
and Sokol (1316m)
, which lie within a strict nature reserve (no waymarked trail). On the summit of Mnich remnants of an Iron Age hillfort have been discovered.
Babky, Sokol and Mnich
MapsONLINE MAP on hiking.sk
As for the analogue maps, there are many options readily available. My favourite is this plastic map by WiT
. (It can be bought in Zakopane or other Polish towns.) Another good 1:25,000 map, published by Sygnatura
can be studied online here
Getting There & Trails
Sivý vrch from Zuberec NE ridge
Undoubtedly most hikers visiting the area and eager to summit something aim for Sivý vrch. Ostrá is too close to it to be thought of as a destination in itself. The only other option is then Babky - it is usually done as a circuit via Predúvratie Saddle and the Pod Náružím Hut. Slovak bus & train timetables
The key bases are the towns of Liptovský Mikuláš to the south and Zuberec to the north of the peak. Liptovský Mikuláš has excellent road and rail connections. Zuberec is easily accessible by road, also if you are staying in or near the Polish resort town of Zakopane. Zuberec lies at the very foot of Sivý vrch and offers access to its summit within four hours’ walk – via either the west ridge or the northeast ridge.If you start from Liptovský Mikuláš, it is a good idea to take a bus to the village of Jalovec, approx. 7km away, or to drive 2.5km further to the hamlet of Bobrovecká Vápenica. From the bus terminus in Jalovec you have to walk up the main street for nearly half a kilometre to the trailhead. The yellow marks will cross the stream, then run towards Bobrovecká Vápenica. There you switch marks for the blue ones and go on north up to the trail junction called rázcestie pod Babkami at 1290m. There you can pick either the green marks making a steep, arduous ascent to the summit of Babky (276 vertical metres) or continue along the blue trail traversing the east slopes of the ridge connecting Sivý vrch and Babky, towards a mountain hut called Chata pod Náružím, also known as Chata Červenec. Just before the hut the trail passes a superb, reliable spring. Past the hut the trail goes a bit more steeply up to join the green marks at sedlo Predúvratie at 1585m, on the Sivý vrch–Babky ridge. From Predúvratie it is still about 2.5km to the summit of Sivý vrch. You can make this stretch of the route a little shorter and less tiring if you traverse the east side of Ostrá following an unmarked path instead of climbing this summit. (Both paths run through dwarf pine bushes; surprisingly, the unmarked path is - that is to say it was when I was there in 2018 - better maintained than the marked trail, which fell short of bushwhacking in places.) But the view it gives of Sivý vrch may be worth the effort. Talking of the views, many places on the Sivý vrch–Babky ridge offer picturesque views of the Roháče Group, especially of Pachoľa (2167m)
and Baníkov (2178m)
Roháče Group seen from below Predúvratie Saddle
The trailhead for the west ridge of Sivý vrch, which boasts cliffs and weird rock formations, is at Vyšné Hutianske sedlo near the bus stop (several buses per day from Zuberec) named Huty Javorinský potok on the 584 road, about 5km south of Zuberec. The lowest section of the trail, which traverses the northern slopes of the ridge, can get pretty muddy. After an hour's ascent you reach the crest at Biela skala (White Rock
, 1378m). Above an elevation of 1600m sit Radové skaly - the most picturesque rock spires, turrets, keeps and the likes, among which a well-trodden path winds its way. Two steeper steps go at YDS class 3 and are chain-assisted. The highest stretch has poor marking, well below Tatra standard, so if you are not extra careful you can walk off the designated route easily, especially while going downhill. It seems like at least one piece of the waymarked trail has been redirected in recent years, but the old, fading marking is still visible, which may cause more confusion.
The table below shows route statistics for select hikes to the summit of Sivý vrch.
|Route||Trailhead||Distance||Net Elevation Gain||Time (Way Up Only)|| Round Trip Total Elevation Gain ||Marks|
|West ridge||Vyšné Hutianske saddle||nearly 5km||875m ||2hr 45min || 890m||red|
|South ridge||Jalovec bus terminus||about 11km||over 1100 ||about 4hr|| over 1400m||yellow, then blue, then green|
|South ridge||Bobrovecká Vápenica||nearly 9km||about 1040||about 3hr 30min|| over 1350m ||blue, then green|
|Northern route (via Pálenica saddle)||Zuberec church (Main Street)||9km||1040m ||3hr 30min|| nearly 1150m||yellow, then red|
| |Spring near the hut | |Predúvratie Saddle | |Paths on E side of Ostrá | |S face of Sivý vrch
This table shows route statistics for the Chata pod Náružím-Predúvratie-Babky loop.
Rock Climbing and Skiing
Rock climbing is forbidden. Skiing is allowed in the area lying south of Priehyba Saddle (the saddle between Sivý vrch and Malá Ostrá) from 21 December to 15 April – on condition that you are a member of a skiing or climbing club/association, such as UIAA or Alpenverein.
Weather, Rescue & Warnings Warnings
- In Slovakia - unlike in Poland - those who do not carry commercial insurance have to pay for any rescue services rendered by Mountain Rescue Service (HZS).HZS's telephone number: 18 300
- Most of the area is covered by dense needleleaf woodland inhabited by quite a few brown bears (Ursus arctos arctos), which can be run into when least expected. More about the bears and whether they can make trouble can be found here. Make sure you follow at least the basic safety techniques.
Chata pod Náružím Chata Zverovka
- Hut on the east side of the south ridge at 1420m: Chata pod Náružím aka Chata Červenec run by a local hiking club - to make sure the hut is open on the day you arrive (it is not normally open on weekdays in the off-season), you'd better contact the owner beforehand. The hut serves drinks but does not serve any food! (However, it has a kitchen where you can cook your own food.) There is a roofed shelter near the hut and two springs.
- Hut northeast of the Sivý vrch Group: Chata Zverovka
- Free campground at a spring at Bobrovecká Vápenica
- There is a good choice of guesthouses and hotels both north (see e.g. in Zuberec or in/near Zakopane, Poland) and south of the mountains. On the outskirts of the town of Liptovský Hrádok is Borová Sihoť – my favourite campsite.