High Tatras of Poland and Slovakia

Learn more about Hut-to-hut Ski Touring

The Tatra Mountains form the border between Poland and Slovakia and are part of the Carpathian range. They offer similar scenery and landscape to the European Alps, although smaller in height. The mountains offer snow-sure conditions between January and March, while the terrain provides some excellent ski touring and backcountry skiing with wide open ridges to challenging tree skiing, gullies and couloirs.

Planned Itinerary

Day 1

Fly to Krakow and travel on to Zakopane. The journey by bus takes about 2 hours. Evening welcome meeting and briefing with your guides. Stay overnight in a hotel in the town.

Day 2

We start with a bus/taxi from Zacopane to Siwa Polana. From there walking or taxi (horses) until the Chokolowska hut. From the hut there are plenty of options for day ski touring: Grzes, Rakon, Wolowiec. All the tours involve 500-900m climbing. Spend the night in the Chokolowska hut (1150m)

Day 3

Today starts with a skin up the ridge line until Trzydniowianski Wierch (1758m) followed by a ski down to the Starorobocianska Dolina (1350m). Skin up to the Siwa Przelecz (1812m) and ski down to the Hali Ornak hut (1080m)

Day 4

Skin up the Tomanowa Dolina to the Tomanowa Przelecz (1686 m) and ski down for 300m. Skin up to the Przelecz (1863m) and climb the Kondracka Kopa (2005m). Ski down to the Kondratowey Hali hut (little hut, 1350m) or Kalatowkach Hotel/hut (10 min further down the track at 1200m).

Day 5

Ski down to the lower station of the liftsystem. Using the cable car reach the Kasprowy Wierch (1987m). Follow the ridge line with skins until Liliove (1952m), ski down until Zieloni Staw followed by a short but steep skin up to Karb (1863m). Ski down to Czarny Staw (1650m). The first few metres are steep and may climb down in crampons if it's icy. From here we skin up to Zawrat – the last few metres requiring crampons. We enjoy a fantastic ski down to the Stawow Polskich – 5 lakes (1660m)

Ski touring in the High Tatras in Poland Mountain Tracks
Quick Info
Skill Level:2
Stamina Level:3
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Planned Itinerary

Day 1

Fly to Krakow and travel on to Zakopane. The journey by bus takes about 2 hours. Evening welcome meeting and briefing with your guides. Stay overnight in a hotel in the town.

Day 2

We start with a bus/taxi from Zacopane to Siwa Polana. From there walking or taxi (horses) until the Chokolowska hut. From the hut there are plenty of options for day ski touring: Grzes, Rakon, Wolowiec. All the tours involve 500-900m climbing. Spend the night in the Chokolowska hut (1150m)

Day 3

Today starts with a skin up the ridge line until Trzydniowianski Wierch (1758m) followed by a ski down to the Starorobocianska Dolina (1350m). Skin up to the Siwa Przelecz (1812m) and ski down to the Hali Ornak hut (1080m)

Day 4

Skin up the Tomanowa Dolina to the Tomanowa Przelecz (1686 m) and ski down for 300m. Skin up to the Przelecz (1863m) and climb the Kondracka Kopa (2005m). Ski down to the Kondratowey Hali hut (little hut, 1350m) or Kalatowkach Hotel/hut (10 min further down the track at 1200m).

Day 5

Ski down to the lower station of the liftsystem. Using the cable car reach the Kasprowy Wierch (1987m). Follow the ridge line with skins until Liliove (1952m), ski down until Zieloni Staw followed by a short but steep skin up to Karb (1863m). Ski down to Czarny Staw (1650m). The first few metres are steep and may climb down in crampons if it's icy. From here we skin up to Zawrat – the last few metres requiring crampons. We enjoy a fantastic ski down to the Stawow Polskich – 5 lakes (1660m)

Option A

Day 6


Spend a day in this great area with an exploratory day tour. More options: Kozi Wierch (2291m) or Przelecz – Szpiglasowy Wierch (2172m) and ski down to the hut.

Day 7

Skin up to Gladka Przelecz (1994m), ski down to the Kobylia dolina (valley) and skin up to the Chalubinskeno sedlo (2022m) and ski down to the Morskim Oku hut (1400m). Ski down before taking the taxi (horses + bus) to Zakopane.


Option B

Day 6

Skin up to Gladka Przelecz (1994m), ski down to the Kobylia dolina and skin up to the Chalubinskeno sedlo (2022m) and ski down to the Morskim Oku hut (1400m). Spend the night in the hut

Day 7

Day touring around the area: Rysy (quite difficult and long – only for very good skiers – 2499m), Swpiglasowy Wierch (last part of the col with crampons, 2110m)

Day 8

Return to the airport for flights home. If time permits, Krakow's Old Town is well worth a visit.

This itinerary is a sample only and may change at the discretion of the guides based on the prevailing weather and snow conditions and the ability level/fitness of the group.

Price

The price includes all guide fees and expenses, all accommodation, all meals (except lunch and evening meals in Krakow)
The price does not include travel to/from Zakopane, uplift and local transfers, entrance tickets to thermal spas or other visitor attractions, personal expenses (e.g. drinks, snacks)

The cost for local transfers, taxis and uplift should be no more than 50 Euros for the week.

Your guides

The trip will be led by Guido Candolini, an Italian IFMGA Mountain Guide who has worked with us for many years. Guido has led previous trips to this region. The maximum group size will be 12 with 2 guides.

Accommodation

The first and last nights of the trip will be spent in a comfortable hotel In Zakopane. The rest of the nights will be spent in huts, which are clean, warm and confortable with showers and good food.

Skills & Stamina

Previous ski touring experience is essential for this trip as well as good fitness required for 6 days ski touring with an average daily elevation gain of 1000m.

Equipment

Ski touring equipment with full ski mountaineering kit so skins, ski crampons, boot crampons, harness and ice-axe.

Insurance

It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and that the cover includes medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment. We recommend www.snowcard.co.uk. They specialise in travel insurance for all adventure sports and travel and they offer competitive rates for both single trip and annual policies.

Skill Level Overview

Introductory

These trips and tours are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Performance Intermediate level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).

Intermediate

These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.

Advanced (this trip)

Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. You will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.

Expert

Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.

Stamina Level Overview

Level 3

You can ski all day comfortably off-piste and ski tour at an ascent rate of 300m per hour for 3 to 5 hours per day (a total of around 800m – 1000m vertical ascent per day). Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.

Level 4 (this trip)

You’re able to happily ski all day off-piste on challenging terrain and snow, and you can ski tour at a rate of ascent of 400m/hour - thus around 1000 – 1300m vertical (5 hours approximately) each day for consecutive days. You’re doing lots of sport each week (4-5 sessions) and you train regularly to achieve a high level of fitness, stamina and endurance. Completing an 80-100 mile cycle ride, a full day’s mountain biking or running a half or full marathon is not out of your reach with this stamina level.

General Information

This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Alpine Ski Tours.
During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.

Clothing

When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think lightweight, comfortable and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep out the chill to warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucsac. Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands have suitable clothing for backcountry skiing.

  • Headwear

    to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Although we do recommend helmets for off-piste skiing, for ski touring they are not essential and actually can be a hindrance – they are hot, heavy and you can’t hear very well when wearing it

  • Roll-neck ‘buff’

    a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name!

  • A shell jacket

    made of breathable material (Gore-tex or equivalent) with an excellent hood. The lighter the better and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket and you supplement this with some good quality thermal base and mid layer tops following the principle of layering – i.e. allowing you to easily add/remove layers depending on the temperature and the activity

  • For the lower half it’s essential that you have a pair of thermal base layer pants (longjohns). These can then be combined with either

  • a good pair of ‘technical shell’ pants

    in a goretex fabric (such as the Berghaus Antelao pant) or

  • a pair of mountain or alpine pants

    together with a pair of lightweight, breathable overtrousers with long side zips

  • Top and bottom underwear made of a synthetic, wicking material.

    Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Icebreaker and Smartwool. They are comfy, breathable and warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!

  • Mid-Layers

    2-3 thin fleeces rather than fewer thick layers between your skin and the outer shell

    an approach which gives better heat retention and good flexibility

  • Gloves

    good quality goretex gloves or mitts and a thin pair of softshell gloves for when it is hot and for skinning in

  • Silk inner gloves

    if you feel the cold

  • Technical Socks

    Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs

For travel / huts

  • Change of clothes

    a light and comfortable shirt to change into once you get to the huts. Most huts sell their own t-shirts, so save weight and have a souvenir at the same time!

Skis

For our alpine ski tours we recommend an all-mountain touring ski that isn’t too heavy. A really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and here are 4 recommendations

  • Dynastar Alti Mythic Light

    a light touring ski which skis well in all conditions 122/89/110

  • Dynafit Manaslu

    a good all-round ski touring ski 122/95/108

  • Scott Crus'Air

    a one ski does it all choice! 128/90/115

  • Trab Evo Volare

    a light ski with good width underfoot 129/99/116

If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing then these are great recommendations. If you are going to be renting skis then these models are not always available in every shop but you will be able to rent something similar by another manufacturer that will work just as well.

Ski Boots

Garmont and Scarpa lead the field in touring boots and we recommend
Lightweight Touring Boots (ideal for good skiers)

  • Scarpa Maestrale or Gea

    both 4 buckle boots which are light but good to ski in

  • Scarpa Skadi or Rush

    both light 3 buckle boots

  • Garmont Celeste or Cosmos

    both 4 buckle boots lightweight and good to ski in

  • Dynafit Mercury or Vulcan

    both 3 buckle boots but offer exceptional ski performance

  • Dynafit TLT5

    very light weight boot for good skiers only

Heavier Ski Tourers

  • Salomon Quest

    great downhill performance but not light – ideal for fit but less adept skiers!

  • Lange XT

    again great downhill but rather heavy for the uphills

Boot Liners

These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner. Heated and moulded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit, they can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf¹ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

Bindings

Fritschi have their well know Diamir bindings, Marker offer touring bindings in the form of the Baron and the F12 & 10 which work very well. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the Dynafit “pin” binding system; they are very light, offer excellent security despite their minimalist looks! Other manufactures are also producing this style of binding now and for the keen ski tourer it is highly recommended

Ski Poles

Standard ski poles or adjustable poles are suitable for all our ski tours. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.

Technical Equipment (essential)

  • Ski Skins

    cut to fit exactly to your skis. Bring some duct tape in case of sticking problems

  • Ice Axe

    general lightweight mountaineering / alpine pick, keep it short (50cm)

  • Boot Crampons

    lightweight aluminum alloy crampons are suitable for most of our ski tours and are a great weight saver compared to steel crampons

  • Ski Crampons (aka Couteaux)

    most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding.

  • Climbing Harness

    a simple lightweight harness. The key feature should be that it has fully adjustable leg loops for putting on over ski boots and crampons

  • Safety Equipment (essential)

    • Avalanche Transceiver

      most of our guides use and recommend the BCA Tracker although other digital models are entirely suitable

    • Snow shovel
    • Avalanche probe
    • Accessories

      • Lightweight sheet sleeping bag/silk liner

        compulsory in huts

      • Ski Goggles

        good quality with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility

      • Sunglasses

        good quality with 100% UV protection

      • Rucsack

        30-40 litre (2100-2400 cubic inches) with straps for carrying skis

      • 1 – 1.5 Liter water bottle

        we don’t recommend hydration systems (e.g. camelbak) in winter as they have a tendency to freeze

      • Hill nibbles (chocolate, energy bars)
      • Suncream and lip salve
      • Wash kit

        with small personal first aid items ie any medications, wet wipes, blister kit. The guide will carry comprehensive set for all other needs

      • Towel (optional)

        Most huts have limited washing facilities

      • Headtorch

        lightweight and carry spare batteries

      • Maps

        optional. Your guide will have these

      • Camera

        with a large capacity memory card

      • Money

        most hotels, shops and restaurants accept credit cards, but not the alpine huts. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss francs or €25-35 per day for lunch and drinks

      • Duffle-bag

        for gear that is not required on the tour – can be left in your first hotel and collected on return

      Please note that your guide will have a few “spares” and other safety items that he or she will ask the group to carry between them; so leave a small space in your sack for an item e.g. spare skin, spare ski pole, emergency shelter

Poland and Slovakia

Poland

The republic of Poland is in Central Europe. It is bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north. The Polish capital is Warsaw.
Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004. The mountainous southern part of the country includes the Tatras and a section of the Carpathian Mountains extending along the Polish-Slovakian border.

Slovakia

The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south. The present-day Slovakia became an independent state in 1993 after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia and later became a member of the EU in 2004. The capital city is Bratislava. Slovakia is extremely mountainous, with the Carpathian Mountains extending across most of the northern half of the country. Amongst these mountain ranges are the peaks of the High Tatras close to the border with Poland. They are a popular skiing destination and home to many scenic lakes and valleys as well as the highest point in Slovakia, the Gerlachovský štít at 2,655 metres (8,711 ft).

Access for our ski touring trip

There are regular flights from London to Krakow.
Flight time is about 3 hours.

Contact

250 York Road, London
SW11 3SJ, United Kingdom
info@mountaintracks.co.uk
Tel: +44 (0)20 8123 2978
Fax: +44 (0)20 7905 0921

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