Vel'ká Svišt'ovka - 2038m
Monday 13th September 2010

Weather/Conditions: Sunny and blazing hot down at Tatranska Lomnica. Very warm walking conditions until we finally gave into the heat and took the ski lift. Cloudy conditions above, but minimal wind and no rain asides spits at the end. Great walking conditions with the clouds making the mountain look spectacular.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 8.4km / 700m / 3h 50m
Accompanying: Iain Alcock, Dougie Blyth, Colin Delorey, Craig Pounder, Ian Rooney, James Steele


In my opinion there's no other way to start this than to say that the morning hangover was this:

F***ing terrible. We've all been there so why go into details, but the big question on my mind as I lay suffering in bed was this: how the hell am I going to walk today? I couldn't even stay up for breakfast. And I lay nearly vomiting while the guys were coming back with tales of snowy mountains beneath blue skies reflected in the perfect calm of the lake. Damn it!

But what a bad way to start a trip report, with such vulgar but apt language too...

So eventually, I get out of bed and the other guys in the club feeling like a load of dads to me (in nothing but a good way!) but whoa this wasn't looking good. I spent some time in the supermarket beside the train station looking for some hill-food. I ended up with just chocolate. The other guys were waiting because I was slow on the get-going. Couldn't blame them. I wanted water from the shop, but they sell all kinds of fizzy over there - it's pretty popular - but which is fizzy and which is still? I pick up a bottle and say "gas?" to the old woman that's working there. She shakes her head, "no", takes the bottle from me and goes searching around for something else. She pulls out another bottle and seems to assure me it's what I want. So I pay and get out since everyone wants to go and get the train. Only later did I open my only water to discover the disgusting 'taste' of fizzy water... I'm sure she knew what she was doing...!

Up to Velka S-what?

I felt rough on the train but not so bad and it was passing by Tatranska Lomnica. Having ate nothing, the appetite returned all at once and I scoffed two hot dogs as we started walking. Iain A. left on the bus for Krakow with intention of seeing Auschwitz (It didn't turn out that way) so it was down to a crowd of six of us. But at that moment the walk was anything but inspiring. We were simply walking in the searing heat of the sun among outer-town bushes and back roads, at the lower end of massive ski development. The trees here had been felled and cable cars old and new, rusting and operating respectively. It was a gnarly scene, one I wish for no mountain. I guess it looks good in the winter?

The cable car goes all the way to the summit of the mighty and immense Lomnicky stit, but we were heading for a pass over to Zelene pleso, or the Green Lake Hut in English. At the middle station we gave in to the tedium of the slog and heat, paid the money and got the cable car further up the hillside. Not proper you say?? That wasn't a proper hillside! In any case, it was pleasant to watch the path wind around beneath the cable car and it made us feel glad we weren't doing that ourselves.

At the top it was misty and a damn sight cooler, so we set off walking for the pass, my camera not working, but coming back again with my realisation that the auto-focus had jammed. The pass shouldn't be far now, I thought. I was surprised by how good I felt now, although I wasn't 100% the way and I'd woken up with a bug at the back of my throat. (It would contribute to hammering me the next day, following the early morning ascent of Jahnaci stit)

It was a long way to reach the pass, although came in time, of course. In the mist there's little to see and it's made worse when the path-layers have made your route so obvious to be on the border of being dull. This is one of my few hates of the Tatras. (Very few - they're a wonderful mountain range in rugged beauty. But legislation, please go away) The pass itself was crowded as hell and my guess was there was perhaps 30-40 people there at points. And since this is a pass and not a summit, I felt compelled to run off up the hillside and pick off the Top by the name Vel'ká Svišt'ovka. And no, I haven't a clue how to pronounce that.

Down to Zelene pleso

And then we went off down the far side. I ran down first to scale the most brilliant rock pinnacle (Craig followed me up) and then continued downwards on the zigzags. The traffic here is huge, but rightly so actually because what waited in store... Oh my god.

The valley 'Dolina Zeleneho plesa' is the most magnificent valley I've seen, looking like something out of Romsdal with towering bits of rock and layers upon layers of these skyscrapers, built the most contorted rock you could think of. With vastly increased enthusiasm, I bounded off downwards at my own pace sucking this place in, revelling in the unexpected beauty trying to comprehend it's immensity. The clouds rolling across the peaks helped add that air of mystery because it may not have looked in the same. Dougie's Polish friend Tomasz recommended that we come here (and climb Jahnaci stit) and was he right or what. In utter awe at my surroundings, I arrived down at the Hut, bought the pints and waited as the other five arrived like drip feed.

The hut has windows the size of the walls, but the mountains still tower too high to see without cranking your head up to see. My photographs never did the place justice, perhaps just one or two. It's just so immense.

After a dinner of I-can't-remember-what, everyone settled down to some pints. I didn't bother (of course, after the previous night) and went off to bed long before midnight to get some rest before the 2.45am start. I didn't sleep for a long time, instead listening to music for many hours thinking lots and anticipating the coming day. I was hoping for a good one and it sure as hell was.

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 11.40am Tatranska Lomnica
(1.00) 12.40pm Cable car Bottom
(1.20) 1.00pm Cable car Top
(2.45) 2.25pm Vel'ká Svišt'ovka
(3.50) 3.30pm Zelene pleso (Green Lake Hut)

Written: 2010-11-01