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16/08/2010 00:28

2,503 m AMSL
Trail: red
Walking time: 6 hours 30 minutes
Date of your first ascent:…
I should begin by pointing out that there are two ways of tackling this challenge.

The first is to set off at the break of dawn from Palenica Białczańska (six and a half hours) and the second is to begin from Morskie Oko pond (four and a half hours). I strongly recommend the latter, since it is really a full day’s hike. You should also consider all the dos and don’ts of Tarta hiking and overcome any reluctance about staying overnight in a mountain lodge. The cost is 40 zloty per night, but is not money wasted.

A few words of advice on mountain lodges. The weather in the highest parts of the mountains is very unpredictable and you should aim to plant your banner on your chosen summit no later than one in the afternoon if you want to avoid getting trapped by it. I recommend the following course of action: if when you get up in the morning the weather is nice, call the mountain lodge by Morskie Oko and book a bed. Then go shopping for the kind of supplies you would take camping: instant soups, bread, jam etc., and head for the mountains with an easy mind. You don’t have to hurry, it will be enough to get there before four in the afternoon. Show your face at the lodge and then hurry on to the Wrota Chałubińskiego Pass. The trail is easy but interesting with plenty of mountain atmosphere to get you in the mood for the next day.
Leave before seven in the morning the next day and, assuming the weather hasn’t changed, you will be able to see the peaks of Mięguszowieckie Szczyty magnificently lit by the early sun from the porch of the lodge. The view is quite different than from the day before. Everything is fresh and new and clear. The wildlife is just waking up and the silence is stunning. Instead of groups of sightseers there is just a handful of mountain freaks like yourself. It is almost as if Morskie Oko has been closed to everyone but you. I have not mentioned equipment yet: you must pack a warm sweatshirt and a waterproof jacket. I know something about this because I have experienced a storm here at the beginning of July with bean-sized hail. Fingerless gloves will also be useful; there are 360 metres of chains to come!
The route around Morskie Oko takes about 20 minutes and then 25 minutes more to the threshold of Czarny Staw. Turn left here and follow the trail around the pond for 30 minutes to finds a wonderful view of Kazalnica spur bathed in sunlight and a small waterfall flowing from beneath it.
A long tedious ascent on stone steps comes next. Two hours and ten minutes from the lodge you cross a stream, take the last turn on the left and come out in front of Mount Rysy. After 15 minutes over scree and perennial snow you reach Bula pod Rysami—a vast talus field made up of boulders and pebbles that serves as a Tatra Mountain Rescue Service helicopter landing site during rescue operations. The time has come for a good rest and a long look at your surroundings, which are certainly worth it. It would take too long to list everything visible from here, but the most impressive sights are Żabi Mnich and Tomkowe Igły not to mention the views over Czarny Staw and Morskie Oko ponds. Twenty-five minutes further on and you face the first of this trail’s true challenges. From this point on, chains will accompany you to the very end. The first difficult moment is a five-metre high rock face that you must pull yourself up onto a ledge. The climb is not technically difficult, but it is slightly exposed. It will have taken you three hours to get here from the lodge.
A bit farther on is an ascent along an almost smooth crest without chains. There are some hairy moments here emphasised by the abundance of jagged rocks at this altitude. It seems as if the chains will never end and, unless you raise your head, your goal remains invisible. When you finally reach the jagged crest of Mount Rysy (four hours and fifteen minutes out from Morskie Oko), the Polish summit seems inaccessible. Only after a sober assessment of the situation will you begin to see the chain stretching around the peak. To reach the north face you have yet to overcome a ledge that the sensitive may find difficult, although if you have endured the route up to this point, it is unlikely to present a problem and it offers a splendid panorama of the eastern half of the Tatras. Near at hand is Mount Gánok and, behind it, Mount Gerlachovský. Below you, on the Polish side, are the peaks of Mięguszowieckie Szczyty, which look like the setting for a model railway from this height. In nice weather the summit is noisy and crowded, but when it is raining —watch out! It is slippery here! On the Slovak side the Žabia Mengusovská Valley is spread out before you to the south and the Ťažká Valley to the east. From this altitude, the views are astounding and unforgettable. The peaks of Vysoká, Ťažký, L’adový, Lomnický and Hrebeň Bášt are all visible from here and Kriváň and Hrubý vrch can be seen in the distance if the weather us clear. On the Polish side are the nearby summits around the Pięciu Stawów Valley as well as Krzesanica and, of course, Mount Giewont. If the weather is good, you can descend to the Waga Pass in 30 minutes and to the Chata pod Rysmi mountain lodge in 45 minutes (note: In February 2000, simultaneous avalanches from Mount Ťažký and Mount Rysy razed the lodge to the ground and scattered its debris over a 200-metre radius).
This hike is intermediate in difficulty. Beginners are welcome to try, but I strongly believe it is a mistake to tackle a trail that is too far above your experience. The anxiety and concentration take all the joy out of the experience. If you have never climbed Mount Świnica, Zawrat or Krzyżne don’t be in too much of a hurry. Mount Rysy will wait for you.


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