Tales of The Tatras Peaks I - Battle Of Giants

Tales of the Tatras Peaks I


For a long time people raised their eyes to the Tatras peaks and guessed which one is the highest. Mount Kriváň seemed to be the highest from the Liptov region. Why became this peak, crooked from each point of view, a symbol of Slovakia? For many years people have searched treasures under the peak´s face. Finally they found out the valuables deep down there.

From the Polish side of the Tatras nobody doubted the altitude primacy of the Ľadový peak. The imposing peak attracted a professor from Berlin, who organized its first ascent. However, he didn´t stand on its top. To be the highest doesn´t always mean victory. The Franz Joseph Peak, the Legionary Peak, the Stalin's peak. Usurped by monarchs and political leaders, Mount Gerlach got all these names. Each year thousands of tourists desire to touch the cross on the highest point of Slovakia. The cross symbolizes a story about human failures but also humbleness. The cross stands there for a plea for forgiveness...

The High Tatras consist of 650 peaks on the Slovak side. When we include the peaks on the Polish side, we can count their number up to a thousand. Until a very long time no one could really guess which of the peaks is the highest.


Mount Kriváň 2494m

English: Mount Kriváň, Polish: Kriwań, German: Krummhorn, Hungarian: Kriván

A myth of the people from Liptov tells that Mount Kriváň was once gently touched by an angel's wing. By doing so, the angel unwittingly curved the peak, what however only points out its marvellous beauty. Many people from the Liptov region saw a curved giant in it, and that's why they called it Kriváň, (in Slovak "bent" or "crooked"). Historically interesting was the initiative of the King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony who reached the summit in his 43 years and dag out a mountain's tunnels in this region for metal and other resources excavation. A pyramid from cast iron was placed at the top of the summit on behalf of him.

First documented ascent in summer: 1773, J.A.Cszibersz
First documented ascent in winter: 1884, J.Horvay, T. Wundt

Ascent of the peak is possible from Štrbské pleso or Tri studničky on marked tourist trails.


Ľadový štít 2628m

English: Ice Peak, Polish: Lodowy Szczyt, German: Eistaler Spitze, Hungarian: Jég-völgyi-csúcs

The scenes of four Gorals reaching the peak in period costumes tell the story of Karol Ritter – a professor of Geography from Berlin, who was in charge of the successful expedition in 1843. Ritter didn't climb all the way up to the peak himself, due to his high age. The first tragedy of this peak happened in 1911. The Baroness Mittnacht from Stuttgart died here while climbing down the mountain, because of the alcohol in her blood from the celebrations of the victory over the peak.

First documented ascent in summer: 1843, J. Ball, W.Richter, C. Ritter,
First documented ascent in winter: 1881, T. Wundt, J. Horvay

The ascent of the peak is possible with a mountain guide from Malá Studená dolina.


Gerlachovský štít 2654m

English: Gerlachovsky Peak, Polish: Gierlach, Garłuch, German: Gerlsdorfer Spitze, Hungarian: Gerlachfalvi-csúcs

In 1838 a woodman from Jelšava – Ľudovít Greiner, made the first trigonometric measurements of the High Tatras. The results were surprising. The highest peak was neither Kriváň nor Ľadový Peak, but the Gerlachovský Peak. The oldest documented recordings of the background of the Gerlachovský Peak can be traced back to 1868, when a cartographer from Vienna left a message in a bottle on the top of the peak. The fact that the Gerlachovský Peak is the highest mountain of the High Tatras led to doubts if its old name is majestic enough. Terezia Egenhoffer – a former Hungarian woman alpinist – came with the idea during the millennium's celebration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to change its name to "The Franz Joseph of Austria Peak". After the euphoria of creation of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1920, its name was changed to "Legionary Peak". By the occasion of the 70th birthday anniversary of Josif Vissartiovič Stalin, it was again renamed to "Stalin's peak". This happened in December 21st 1949.

First documented ascent in summer: 1834, J. Still, M. Spitzkopf-Urban
First documented ascent in winter: 1905, J. Chmielowski, K. Jordán, K. Bachleda

The ascent of the peak is possible with a mountain guide from Velická dolina.

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