At the smart hotel of Sliesky Dom we phoned our travel company rep. She advised that we take a car from the hotel down into the valley, take a train from Tatranska Polianka to Podradske Pleso and walk up, about an hour, to our refuge and this is what we did. The courtesy car was run by the hotel and the fare was 15 Euro each for non-guests but this, curiously, included a hot drink and a piece of cake, which we eagerly consumed while we waited for the car. The car driver was extremely pleasant and chatted with us all the way down, about 20 minutes. His English was quite patchy but while driving down a steep, narrow and bendy road he told us he had visited his brother and mother in UK and sorted through and showed us pictures of his trip on his mobile phone. We tried to be politely interested while wanting him to concentrate on driving!
We bought tickets at the station (1.50 Euros for a trip of about 10 km – so cheap) and chatted to a delightful couple of visitors from Bratislava at the station. He worked for an American company and had excellent English. She was a dentist and also spoke English well. It was a pleasant interlude during a long days’ walk. The train came after a wait of about 20 minutes and from Popradske Pleso station we had a walk of just over an hour up to the refuge. We arrived around 7.30 in gathering gloom, about 12 hours after we set out that day.
Popradske Pleso Chata is also, confusingly. called Horsky Hotel. It is large with 165 beds. It offers many facilities and a wide variety of accommodation ranging from apartments to dorms. It is an attractive building in a glorious setting. We were in a dorm with four bunk beds, full up that night, Friday. After a shower and settling in we went to the restaurant, which seemed to be serving food all day and night, and had a very good meal; part of our half board reservation.
Next day a fried breakfast was an option that we took together with fruit and yoghurt. I was anxious to get off early to go up Rysy, the highest mountain in Slovakia accessible without a mountain guide, and I left just after 8 o’clock. My companion had a well-deserved rest day.
Rysy is 2499 m high, a climb of just over 1000m from the refuge. The track follows a blue path to start with through trees then joins a red path going up to the summit past a lake and Chata pod Rysmi refuge. The trail marker indicated a time of 3h 20m from the start of the path and that was just about how long it took me, despite the crowds, of which more anon. Much of my climb was in the shade of trees or the mountains which was welcome because it was sunny and quite warm. After about an hour I was passing the, apparently nameless, lake
Not long after I came to the ladders and chains
The refuge is the newest, built in 1933, and the highest, at 2250 m, in the High Tatras and it was very busy when I arrived. It was so busy that I had to squeeze my way past the customers or those simply taking a breather. I did not stop but carried on up to a col called Vaha just in view to the right of the Chata in my picture. From Vaha there are tremendous views forward and down towards Zmrzle lake.
There was a climb of another 150 m or so to the summit. Actually, Rysy has three summits but they are close together.
There were some narrow exposed places on the way, made worse by the large number of people being squeezed onto a single track. At the top there were crowds and I was startled to see Kirk, the Canadian we met three days previously, calmly sitting on a ridge col between two of the peaks. It was packed and I hope that this picture shows this adequately
In view of the crowds, with more still arriving, and the start of some high cloud forming from the south, I decided to start descending and Kirk joined me. We stopped for some lunch on the way down, a little above Vaha col. The walk down from there was quite long and busyas there were still plenty of people climbing up as you can see in this picture from just past Vaha.
I was back at the refuge/hotel at about 2.30. I had a shower and changed then met my companion and took a stroll round Popradske lake and visited the chapel memorial to those killed in the Tatra mountains. There are, according to the display boards 50 hand-carved ornate crosses and 160 memorial plaques.
One thing I found quite curious about the climb was the large number of people wearing sporty-looking gloves. This is something I think I have rarely seen in other walking areas and perhaps is a local trend associated with scrambling and/or the chains. Anyway, this was an excellent day concluded with a few beers and another excellent meal in the refuge.