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Climbing Gerlachovský štít

July 20, 2012

On rest day between climbs we went to visit some of the nearby towns in the Tatras such as Starý Smokovec, Štrbské pleso and Tatranská Lomnica. We also took the cable car from Tatranská Lomnica to Skalnaté pleso.

We woke up at 5 am and drove to Vyšné Hágy, where we parked at the train station and began the hike. It was a little cloudy, but the sun came out as we hiked up to the peak. Though is was sunny at Batizovské pleso, the peaks above were covered in fog. We read over the route descriptions obtained from various books and sites, and looked at a couple GPS tracks. We scrambled over boulders on the East side of the lake and began ascending the snow slopes up to the base of the real climb.

It is also worth noting that Gerlach is part of TANAP, an area restricted to those with a guide or with UIAA membership. I am a member of the American Alpine Club, and we attempted to procure Czech membership to CHS Horosvaz for us all because it would permit Thomas and I to climb in the Czech Republic, while also being cheaper than AAC membership. Unfortunately we enclosed the wrong amount of money in the envelope (though I sent the amount requested on the website with extra for postage, so it seems a bit fishy to me) to CHS because we did not receive membership cards. Not willing to give up on the climb over a piece of paper, I “fixed” Thomas and my dad up with AAC letters. Luckily we didn’t run into any guides, who have reportedly been violent in the past to unguided parties.

Back to the story… We put on crampons after crossing the lake, as well as harnesses. I didn’t want to go through my bag again so I got out the pro that I brought to protect the exposed parts for my dad and possibly bail gear if we got off-route, 5 cams and some stoppers. It was also nice to get the weight of my back. We walked up the snowslopes, following footprints left by other groups. Guided groups use our ascent route as the descent, so we thought if we could follow the footprints the correct couloir we would find the chains at the base of the route. Unfortunately various sets of footprints went to different couloirs on the face. Thomas and I climbed the steepening slopes to look for the chains, but found nothing. Visibility had decreased dramatically, and as I climbed a section of rotten snow that would not easily hold bodyweight, it began to snow. At the top I found a rusted bolt, more footprints, but no chains. I descended and we turned back and had lunch at the lake when we caught a break in the clouds.

Disappointed at having to turn back on a peak that I have wanted to climb for a few years, we trekked back to the car mostly in silence. It rained and hailed on the way back.

We went into the surrounding towns looking for something to eat other than klobasas, potatoes, cabbage, and schnitzel. In this part of the world that ruled out just about ever restaurant in the area, so we drove into Poprad for a bite to eat. The city is not much, but it was good to stock up on food at Tesco for the upcoming hikes.
The next day we drove back to Prague, which took most of the day. It was a hot day, and we stopped at Hrad Strečno (Castle Strečno) near Žilina.

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