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Sleeping in heaven

#summit, #camping, #extreme, #slovakia, #high tatras, #snow, #heaven, #panoramic view, #weather, #night sky,

Story by David Varga April 12th, 2015

Waiting for the weather

Do you know that feeling when you check the weather forecast every once in a while and try to hypnotise it to change towards your expectations?

So that’s exactly what we’ve been doing for couple of weeks in October 2014. We wanted to try to spend the night on the top of some mountain with nice views and enjoy the sunset and sunrise over there. We chose Kriváň, the so-called national mountain of Slovakia in High Tatras, and waited for the right conditions (in terms of night temperature and wind). They seemed to be appearing during the last weekend of the month and I decided to take our chances, managed everybody over Facebook and we could go.

It was me, Rohe and Rznik. We met up in Žilina and departed towards Tri Studničky parking lot, where we left our car. From there it is a demanding 4-hour ascent to the summit, especially with all the photography gear and camping equipment. We also carried the crampons for security in the upper parts with snow and ice.

After we arrived the weather was a bit windy and the sky was not so clear, which was not really promising.

What however waited for us in the area close to the summit overcame our wildest fantasies!


Lagging behind

The only shame was we had a delay and the sunset was about to happen very soon. So we rushed up to the top where we planned to find a place for bivouacking or for setting up a tent.

Unfortunately we missed the best part of the sunset and especially my photographic mind suffered. On the other hand the conditions, the views, the silence and total calmness all around were breathtaking. We put down our heavy backpacks and for some time just stood there, enjoyed the momentum and our presence in time and space.

After couple of moments we started to shout. All of us.

Nothing specific, we just needed to release our feelings. Pure happiness!


It is hard to describe but the conditions couldn’t really be any better. There was absolutely no wind, not even a slightest movement in the air. Clouds beneath us were slowly crawling. Only sharp peaks of surrounding mountains emerging from the white waves of cloud ocean. Nature at its best!

It was getting darker though, so we began to set up our place to sleep for tonight. We pitched the basic layer of the tent just to be sure and prepared for any change in weather during the night. Still, it was our first time spending the night out in such altitude (Kriváň is 2,494 m amsl).


Night workshop

There was only few stars already visible on the sky. So in the meantime of waiting for the full night to come we cooked a nice dinner and warmed ourselves by Brennivín, the Icelandic hard alcohol I brought home from my last trip.


After that some serious photography madness could have started. Even though I did not have the right lenses for astrophotography, I was trying different angles, compositions and motives and spent like an hour and half of running around with my camera and tripod. There is still a lot to learn though in this field.

Thousands of stars were shining above our heads and it was also possible to spot the Milky Way by our own eyes. The layer of low clouds served as the perfect shield against the light pollution from cities and towns around and the night sky was therefore amazing and kind of rare to see in High Tatras, I suppose.


Welcome back, sun

Honestly, the sleep was not so good and comfortable as we would hope for. So we actually looked forward to the morning alarm to wake us up for the sunrise. Brief look around indicated the conditions were still very good. The nice and atmospheric low clouds were gone but still, no wind and no big freezing.

We pulled ourselves out of the sleeping back and prepared for the sun to emerge.


We enjoyed the first warm sun rays, and since there was not much to photograph without low clouds below or high clouds above we started to pack everything up.

The weather forecast for following days was still great, so we decided to challenge one more summit this weekend. We had to get back down to the car first and move to Brnčálka mountain cabin (Chata pri Zelenom plese).

Lace up the boots, put the crampons on and let’s go…


The descent back to the parking lot took us slightly less than 4 hours and it turned out to be a nice and sunny day. From there we drove to the opposite side of High Tatras, toTatranská Lomnica. There we took the cable cabin to get us lifted to Skalnaté pleso and from there we hiked again. It was mostly a pleasant traverse, where we only had to climb up Veľká Svišťovka summit and then descend down to the cabin. From the summit we had a beautiful view of another part of this national park - Belianske Tatry, and also of our tomorrow’s target - peak of Jahňací štít.

The sunset came in quickly and it was getting darker soon after, so we speeded up the descent (it helped us a lot we could use the crampons) and arrived to the cabin just in time to enjoy a delicious soup for dinner and hot shower afterwards.

Our plan was to climb up the Jahňací štít early in the morning and catch the sunrise there, so all of us headed to the beds pretty early today.

Looking forward to another adventure tomorrow.

Mountain climbers

Comparing to Kriváň this ascent was only supposed to take 2 hours from the cabin but the terrain was much more difficult and technically it was more demanding than the previous days climbs. There was ice on many parts of the path and also on the rock, and it was sometimes much steeper as well. On the other hand the climb itself was a way more interesting because of that and we literally felt like some professional mountain climbers somewhere in the Alps. :-)


This time we calculated and anticipated the actual time of our climb well and reached the summit before the dawn.


It meant we had plenty of time to play around, shoot panoramas and warm up with the sun slowly rising up behind the surrounding mountains.


The other climbers also started to show up in order to enjoy this spectacular natural theatre. Some of them even brought the sleeping bags over here and planned to stay on the top for couple of hours. That’s actually a good idea for next time.

[Group 0]-DSC_5368_DSC_5370-3 images.jpg
Belianske Tatry

This time however we didn’t bring any and therefore we took a small breakfast up here and turned back for return. We managed to climb down without a problem and the only thing left to us was to enjoy the walk in the warm and sunny day in the mountains, clear blue skies and a well-deserved fresh beer along with remaining Brennivín in the end. What could have been better?

The whole 3 days were absolutely incredible. The stable and beautiful weather, no wind or haze, not too much snow, but cold enough temperatures to not melt it. Everything went according to the plan, everything happened as we wanted to. I think this happens only rarely.

Well, these were the conditions it was definitely worthy to wait for.
Vysoké Tatry, Slovensko