High Tatras: Climb on Velka Svistovka
Although winter is in full swing and snow inspires people to put on ski boots rather than hiking boots. However, it is time to schedule trips for the summer season. Those planning to go to the High Tatras, for example, may rise to one of the easternmost mountains shields, Velka Svistovka (2037 meters). Because the adjacent Kezmarska Biela Voda Valley could be walked through also in winter, many winter hikers will appreciate the following tip.
Kezmarska Biela Voda Valley
Early in the morning we get on the Tatra railway and travel to Tatranska Lomnica. From there we either walk (to Tatranske Matliare), or ride by bus to Biela Voda stop. Directly from the station and the adjacent car park we walk up along the yellow tourist trail. This year-round open hiking trail in the picturesque Kezmarska Biela Voda Valley opens up magnificent views in front of us and behind us there are cold mountain ridges. Among boulders at the bottom of the river we see numerous giant pots - erosion shapes excavated material entrained huge energy mountain stream. In about two to three hours (in winter four to five hours!) we arrive at the famous "Brncalce", a cottage perched at the end of the valley.
The name Brncalova cottage or „Brncalka“ for short is not to see in maps published after the year 1991. That is an older, although quite deep-rooted name for Cottage by Zelene Pleso . It is located by a emerald glacier lake. The cozy cottage is an excellent example we can freshen up "carrier’s" tea or enjoy amazing steamed buns.
Little bit of adrenaliny
From Cottage by Zelene Pleso we continue (only between June 15th to October 10th!) along the red trail, called the Tatra Highway leading to the east around Cierne Pleso. The pavement, however, soon turns to the south. It takes us up the steep rocky couloir, which is partially provided popular Tatra tools - auxiliary chains. After overcoming them we get on unpleasant gravel serpentine going up to the saddle below Svistovka (2023 meters). From here it is only a short walk along the unmarked trail to the top.
Prize for getting to the top
The prize for getting on the top of Velka Svistovka is a magnificent view not only of Kezmarska Biela Voda valley but also Podtatranska Valley, the Belianske Tatras ridge divided by Kopske Mountain Saddle (1750 meters) and many ridges of the High Tatras. We are about to descend. Along the Tatra Highway we descend to Skalnate Pleso , which is thanks to the white dome of the Astronomical Observatory and the cable car station at the dam lake hardly to be overlooked. If we manage to get through masses of tourists, we can get down pretty quickly by a cable car (which also costs something), or walk along the green trail directly to Tatra Lomnica. Longer but more interesting option is to go along the highway to Hrebienok. From there you descend to Stary Smokovec and travel by ground cable car or you can descend further along the green trail.
Several remarks about the hike
On older maps the route from "Brncalka" to the mountain saddle under Svistovka is marked as a one-way route! Due to the difficulty of this part of the trail, this was an absolutely reasonable decision. It is easier to get up with the help of chains than to descent. Bidirectional operation then causes (especially in high season) unpleasant collisions of crowds of tourists. Often they are inexperienced visitors to the mountains , who afterwards when they get up there from Skalnate Pleso usually helplessly “flitter” while holding the chains. Those having low physical fitness, badly chosen shoes and perhaps fear of heights, it is then difficult to get through this difficult climb. Experienced hikers should avoid the chains to the right. On this route, the climb is mostly much easier than on the former route. The safest thing to do is to walk the route in the low season Remember also that hike through the Velka Svistovka is time consuming and physically demanding. You should consider it as a day-long trip and do not underestimate having quality gear and head out into the mountains early in the morning!
Text/photo: Blanka Pechačová
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The one who loves adventure and is reasonably physically fit, undoubtedly would like a few tips about easy winter hikes Velka Studena Valley, located in the Slovak part of the High Tatras. A year-round open cottage, Zbojnicka Chata (1960 meters), which waits for us in this valley, offers a place to rest, refreshment and cozy accommodation. We can spend here a few days without getting away from the surrounding of Tatranian peaks. Keep in mind, however, that the motion in the Tatras in winter outside marked trails is very limited according to the TANAP rules!
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