The Toughest Ski-Mountaineering Traverse of High Tatra

Brothers Ondra and Jirka Švihálkovi- Kejda Ski Team- crossed the High Tatras range from East to West. This was an adventure that combined skiing and mountaineering, calling upon all the mountain skills the two Czech crows could muster to see this extraordinary odyssey through.

Have you ever thought about the word Skimountaineering? It consists of two words: ski and mountaineering. So clearly visible fact that it´s always forgotten. Of course it´s not case of Chamonix but other destinations. In fact, in many regions people simply go for ski-touring or go for climbing. But they never mix it together. But why not to combine your climbing skill, skiing skill and your common knowledge of winter mountain terrain into one complex adventure?! We decided to try it in our home mountains, High Tatra in Slovakia.

High Tatra is the highest range of Carpathians and real alpine, rugged terrain. Steep gullies, sharp rocky ridges, not so steep walls with many ramps, ledges and variations. It´s like being designed right for steep skiing and mixed climbing. Ideal place to combine steepskiing with mixed climbing to create hard, complex traverse of the range over the major summits in a row!
This post should not be our personal story but it should show this opportunity for community, for other potential aspirants. We want to present this carpathian adventure to inspire people to repetition. Or to inspire them to try something similar in their home mountains! Because great achievements are not always hidden in Himalaya but you can find them also in your backyard and the experience can be as nice as strong. What is beautiful about this type of traverse is the fact that you can combine all your mountaineering skill, experience and knowledge which you´ve been developing for years within one exciting mix.

The traverse of High Tatra from East to West, over major summits between southern valleys. Because why making traverse only over passes when summits are the basic value of mountaineering? By the system valley – summit – valley we climbed all major summits south of the main chain of Tatra crossing the range from east to west. These summits are Lomnicky stit, Stredohrot, Bradavica, Gerlach, Koncista, Satan, Hruby vrch, Krivan, all around 2400 – 2650 m high peaks. We have skied them from the highest possible points by ski. So skiing radically speeded up the process but it was not our only equipment to go over the mountains.

Technical parametres:
7020 m+ in three consecutive days, 27th – 29th of March 2017 (1st day: 2850 m+, 13 hours; 2nd day: 1830 m+, 10 hours; 3rd day: 2340 m+, 12 hours). Waiting times for proper moment for steep ski descent are included. But as everything on this route it extremely depends on current snow and weather condition. The route is challenging both physically and technically although on majority of the route rope is not necessary. Maximal difficulty in ascent is III UIAA, WI 2, 55°, in ski descent it is around 45°.

1st day: Chata pri Zelenom plese Hut – Lomnicky stit Peak – Malá Studená dolina Valley – Stredohrot Peak – Velká Studená dolina Valley – Zbojnicka Hut – Bradavica Peak – Sliezsky dom Hut.
2nd day: Sliezsky dom Hut – Gerlachovsky stit Peak – Batizovská dolina Valley – Končistá Peak – Popradské pleso Hut.
3rd day: Popradské pleso Hut – Satan Peak – Mlynická dolina Valley – Hrubý vrch Peak – Nefcerka Valley – Nefcerské sedlo Col – Dolina Suchej vody Valley – Kriváň Peak

Please contact us for details, the route is very complicated and difficult in navigation.

Ondra & Jirka Švihálkovi

Suitable snow and weather conditions:
The proper period for a try is approx. second half of March and first half of April. Very stable avalanche situation is absolute necessity because you need to cover huge amount of terrain, in every exposure and orientation and these all during whole day! Suitable weather is a problem: first day you need mild weather but with many clouds because only clouds can slow down the process of snow-softening during the day and that´s essential thing on this first, gigantic stage. First descent is with SE orientation, second descent is clear S, and third is W, so if you´re quick enough you can manage every descent in reasonable snow. Second and third day you need simply fine, sunny days with quick snow-softening because descents are mostly gullies with W orientation.

Skills needed:
physical resistance (we loosed 4 kgs), mental resistance, ability to ski more or less steep descents on wasted legs, fast and safe climbing on long sections of I-II UIAA unroped and with ski on your back, good knowledge of Tatra and particular peaks, proper time management during stages.

Essential equipment:
•    Black Crows Orb + skins + poles
•    boots Scarpa Maestrale
•    each climber 2 ice axes
•    crampons for ice and rock (not light ones!)
•    one piece of 70 m twin rope
•    4x camalot, 4x nut, 1x ice screw, 4x ,,alpine” quickdraw (small carabine – 60 cm sling – small carabine), 2x sling 120 cm, 4x HMS carabine
•    8 meters of sling for abseils + knife
•    skimo harness
•    helmet, headlamp, first aid kit,…


Ondra & Jirka Švihálkovi, Kejda Ski Team

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