Kasprowy Wierch Mountain... Conquered!
Kasprowy Wierch (Poland)
Member Name: loulou22
Kasprowy Wierch (Poland)
Advantages: Fantastic Experience. Amazing Surroundings.
Disadvantages: Too Touristic in parts
Kasprowy Wierch, Tatra Mountains, Poland.
Back in July we took a trip to the Tatra Mountains in the South of Poland. This mountain range is on the Polish border with Slovakia and is home to some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen... even though it was very cloudy and wet!
Located 1988 metres above sea level Kasprowy Wierch is popular with skiers and snowboarders during the winter months and walkers, hikers and climbers during the Spring, Summer and Autumn and this was our planned destination for the weekend so after arriving in Zakopane we took a mini bus for 3zl (Polish Zloty) from the city centre to Kuznice and the entrance to the Tatras National Park.
When we arrived at the park we had 2 options for reaching the top, cable car or walk. We had already decided that we wanted to walk there so after studying our map to see which trail we needed to follow we set off in the direction of Hala Gasienicowa. This was our halfway point where we planned to stop for half an hour to take a break and have some lunch as we knew there is the Murowaniec hostel/shelter here and having heard a lot of good things about it we thought it would be nice to include it in our day.
To enter the National Park we needed to pay a 4zl fee at the little shed near the car park and read the warning signs about possible rock avalanches and what to do if you meet a bear during your walk!
A Forest Walk to Hala Gasienicowa
To reach Hala Gasienicowa we followed the blue trail through a mainly forest area. To begin with the path was quite rocky and uneven underfoot and also rather steep but this didn't matter as we were full of enthusiasm and ready to conquer a mountain! As the weather was a bit rainy and cold we had set out in warm clothes and waterproof jackets however after only 10 minutes of walking the waterproof was in my bag along with the hoody and I was happily walking in the drizzle in my t-shirt. The forest we walked through was very pretty and a lovely bright shade of green, ok, this may sound obvious that a forest is green but I never expected to see a green so bright in the rain!
After around 30 minutes of walking we reached our first view point. This was an opening in the trees which looks out over the Tatras. Obviously at this point we were still quite low in the mountains but it was still fantastic to look across the valley and be able to look up and see the tops of the nearby mountains. Little did we know that this was going to be one of the last chances to see the tops of the mountains as the clouds were beginning to close in on us and visibility was soon to be minimal! After a 5 minute stop at the view point and a quick cuppa from the Thermos we continued on our way.
From the view point the path became a little more rocky and slightly less foresty but still plenty of bushes and greenery. The higher we got the less trees there were and the more open the view of the surrounding mountains was becoming. Unfortunately due to the weather our views were quite cloudy and the tops of the mountains almost impossible to see. Nevertheless I still really enjoyed the views as I thought the clouds moving across the mountains looked amazing!
Within a few minutes of admiring these clouds I found myself walking through one with visibility down to a bare minimum and I was unable to see more than 50 yards ahead of me. We could hear other people in front or behind us but it was almost impossible to see them other than a vague outline. As we could see our path clearly we decided to continue on our adventure and at least make it to the halfway point.
The first half of our walk was very busy and we met a lot of people walking, I would say they were mainly tourists as most of them were in jeans and trainers with no bags or waterproofs. For reaching Hala Gasienicowa I would say this is fine as the path is generally ok just a little uneven and rocky with a few steep areas.
As we approached Hala Gasienicowa we came across a couple of large shelters for climbers before we eventually reached the Murowaniec shelter.
Our original plan had been to get to Murowaniec shelter and stop for a 30 minute rest and lunch. However, when we got here the place was overloaded with tourists and inside the shelter was packed so we decided to cut out 30 minutes down to 15. The shelter itself did look really nice and inside was lovely and cosy and a nice source of warmth after the rain. To use the toilet you needed to pay 1zl. They also had some souvenirs available to purchase if you wished.
Outside the shelter was quite a few tables and chairs and a warning sign about bears being in the area.
The Rocky Road to Kasprowy Wierch
As we left the half way point our journey began to follow the yellow trail and the path became notably more rocky and I really began to feel the steep incline in my legs! Regardless of this we continued towards the top, still walking in a cloud so unable to take in any of the views. The further we went the less people we met and for me this was great as I wanted to escape the tourists! Ok, I know I was a tourist myself but I wanted the feeling of being alone in the mountains and like I was on a proper expedition!
The path we were now following briefly crosses onto the border of Slovakia so we had to stop for photos with the sign in Slovakian. After this view point of clouds we continued on what I have now re-named as the "road to no where" as it seemed to go on for so long and every time I thought we were near the top we seemed to turn another corner! This path was very rocky with huge rocks forming steps to climb up. I amused myself on this path by singing the road to no-where song until I drove myself insane!
There isn't much I can say about this part of our adventure other than "rocky", "wet" and "hard work". I can honestly say I was very grateful for my walking boots as I think there is no way I would have managed to do this in my trainers. Due to the weather the rocks became quite slippy in places and also because of the weather the views were minimal with just the close surrounding areas to look at. This made the walk quite hard as we knew that when we reached the top of the mountain the view was going to be almost non-existent, but this was a challenge and we had to complete it!
Kasprowy Wierch... Conquered!
After almost 4 hours of walking and at some points climbing in very tough and wet conditions we finally reached the summit of Kasprowy Wierch! We knew we had made it when suddenly a load of tourists were coming into view and we could see the cable car station where they had gotten off. The summit of Kasprowy Wierch is located up some more stairs above the cable car station so with a final heave ho we managed to climb the stairs and pose for photos with the Kasprowy Wierch summit sign.
The top of the mountain is also home to the weather station which I have been informed was built there before the World Wars and is one of the famous landmarks of the mountains.
An Hour as a Tourist
After all that hard work we decided to take a break in the cable car station at the top of the mountain. In here we found a Dominium Pizza restaurant where we sat drinking hot chocolate to warm us up as we were freezing and soaked through! The hot chocolate came at a cost of 8.50zl. While we were here I sent my mum a text to tell her I was on the top of a mountain! Yep... I even got a phone signal at almost 2000 metres above sea level!
Following our hot chocolate we had a quick look at the souvenirs which I decided were mainly quite tacky and overpriced, yet I still found myself purchasing a beaded bracelet made of wooden beads and a leather cord for my little brother just so he can say he has something from the top of a mountain.
To come back down the mountain we decided to take the green trail in the hope that we would have some variation in scenery even with the constant cloud we were in. I thought that coming back down was going to be the easy part of this adventure, however I didn't count on my knee giving into the constant pressure it was being put under with the strain of the steep downwards slope and as a result of this I would say this was one rather painful trip down a mountain!
The green trail down Kasprowy Wierch was pretty much rocks all the way and we took the first 30 minutes of our descent rather slowly as the drop on either side of the not to wide path was rather steep and obviously extremely high! The terrain around us was a mixture of large boulders, rocks with some greenery and steep drops, we really had to be careful here. Me and my clever ideas of taking a different route down!
After the first 30 minutes the path became a little easier, still very rocky but the surrounding area was a little greener and not quite so steep. Our path was now much more winding but with it being downhill I could still feel the pressure on my knee. Regardless of this I was still loving our day here and wanted to continue on our way. For the first half of our journey down we met only about 2 or 3 people and we felt very alone and secluded which was a fantastic feeling. For sometime the only sound we could hear was our own footsteps and the occasional bird tweeting. It was still raining but this didn't seem to matter too much... I think by this time we had become pretty immune!
About halfway down, the path started to move back into the forest area and I felt a slight relief that we had almost made it. Walking through the forest was much easier and the paths were not so steep. It was lovely to be back in the trees and I could hear a waterfall running somewhere alongside us.
The Cable Car Bear!
Not long after we had left the half way point I had drifted into my own world when I heard a loud rumbling/growling sound. My first thought was "oh **** BEAR!" and I don't think I was alone in this thought as we both instantly looked at each other and quickened our pace while frantically looking around for the bear! It was only a few moments later when we heard the sound again that we realised it wasn't a bear at all and it was actually the cable car passing overhead and the rumbling/growling sound had been when it passed over the wheels on the overhead wire!
Oh how stupid we felt! Not really for mistaking the sound for a bear because we knew this was possible... very rare but still possible, but no we felt stupid because the bear warning sign we had read at the bottom of the mountain had told us that if we did happen to see a bear then we shouldn't panic and under no circumstances should we make any sudden movements but instead walk calmly in the other direction! Oops!
Waterfalls and A Return to Civilisation
After our cable car bear incident we continued on our way and enjoyed the beautiful views once again as the clouds had cleared. We saw a gorgeous waterfall and a couple of squirrels playing in the trees. Eventually, a very long 10 hours after we had set out we arrived back at our starting point in Kuznice where we simply sat, looked at each other and realised we had done it!
So, Should You Climb Kasprowy Wierch?
If you have a good pair of walking boots and are physically fit then definitely yes. The first part of our trip was a little too touristy for me and when we reached the top we were again over run with tourists, however the adventure from the half way point and then the walk back down the mountain was a peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable experience which I would recommend to anyone!
For those of you who would prefer to take the cable cars to the top, firstly you need to be prepared for the queues and secondly, the price is currently 39zl to go up and 29zl to come back down again! I would say at these prices you should only bother to do this if the weather is good so you will at least get some decent views for your money... unless you simply want the cable car ride and to say you've been on top of a mountain!
Overall a great and tiring experience which I would definitely do all over again!
Thanks for reading! :)
Summary: I climbed a mountain!