Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Taking it Rysy


Goodbye Poland (well sort of) and the West Tatry and hello Slovakia (again, well sort of) and the High/Vysoke Tatry. Strangely enough, today's mission is to reach the highest point in Poland. The true summit of Rysy (2503m/P163) is in Slovakia, however, close by on the border is a lower summit at 2500m. Many of the people who were using the same route as me turned out to be Polish.
Start sign near Strbske Pleso
I started from the resort of Strbske Pleso (1312m) and followed the well constructed red marked path over the Trigan to Popradske Pleso. A left turn up a blue marked path meant I soon met the uphill track at 1620m where the climb really begins. This path has been constructed with tight zigzags so that at times you are barely a few metres higher than you were going the other way - this meant the eventual length of the track on my GPS was a lot longer than the map would imply.

Rysy from near Trigan
Not sure who is carrying the chip-pan
Quite high up at 2250m there is a refuge the Chata pod Rysmi - where everything, including
heavy gas bottles, has to be carried up by human carriers. I passed a number of heavily laden men on the way. Still it meant that I could have a cup of tea whilst looking at the spoof timetable on the nearby bus stop before completing the ascent to the ridge and the two summits.

All food hand -delivered at this Chata

Bus stop with spoof timetable

Polish summit = country top
The Polish summit was quite crowded, whereas the Slovakian one was much quieter. I was one of the few that went to both tops - because as a bagger I wanted to be able to tick both the country top list and the prominence list.
The return route was much the same as the ascent - although at the Chata I had a beer instead of a cup of tea. Not sure that was the wisest decision, but it is something a lot of people do before they go down even the most difficult paths. I am glad I did not have two beers.

Slovakian top = true summit

Writing down the web address for this blog in the  Polish summit logbook

Both Rysy tops

At the Popradske Pleso (lake) I was intrigued by a sign that pointed to a Symbolioky Cintorin about 40 minutes away so I went to have a look. Turned out to be a fairly unremarkable chapel and I could not see why it was considered 'symbolic'. However, amongst the trees around the chapel were a number of erratic boulders with memorial plaques attached. And it looked like a large proportion of them were dedicated to climbers who had been killed on a mountain either locally or elsewhere in the world. Most of the plaques named the mountain and the date of the accident.
Usually when I see a memorial plaque 'official' or homemade stuck on a rock on the hill I  find it irritating. You know the sort of thing - 'Fred Bloggs used to enjoy the view from this point' - well, then why ruin it for the rest of us with your tacky plaque? However, these were discreetly hidden and collectively made sense. I did not recognise any of the names, but I am sure they included some well known ones in the climbing community.

That evening I experienced my first typical late afternoon or evening Vysoke Tatry electrical storm - the thunder and lightning accompanied  torrrential rain for a short while and then just as quickly the skies cleared. I have already been accustomed to this that it only becomes noticeable on the days when there isn't a storm. I wonder how many of the memorial plaques were to climbers who failed to get down before the storms started?

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