Saturday, January 11, 2014

Ski mountaineering in Žiarska dolina

Every year around New Year me and my friends go to the mountains. This time me, Martin and Kolo chose Žiarska dolina in West Tatras in Slovakia. The weather before our trip was very hot and most of the snow disappeared from the mountains. As we approached Tatras and saw the grassy slopes, I became quite sceptical about the conditions, but in the end it turned out to be one of my best ski touring trips.

Sunday

We first went to Smutné sedlo (1965 m, sad saddle in Slovak), to do an easy ride and check the snow conditions. The ascent was icy and Martin had some trouble, since he didn't have ski crampons. We had to wait for him and Kolo used this opportunity to make two rides from the saddle.


Since the weather was great and the snow was okay in the upper parts, we decided to go to Hrubá kopa (2166 m). The ascent was very steep and again, Martin was a bit slower, because he didn't have an ice axe but Kolo created nice snow stairs for him and me.

Climbing the chute using stairs in the snow. We skied down the same way.
Western view with Baníkov (2178 m)
The descent has been my hardest ride ever. I had ice on my binding and it released once in the beginning because of that. I carefully cleaned it but after that I wasn't confident enough to do quick turns down the steep 40-degree chute on hard packed snow. A small mistake and released binding would send me onto the surrounding rocks.

The sky turned orange after we skied the chute.


Monday

We decided on an easy trip to Žiarske sedlo (1917 m), since we didn't see snow elsewhere. While approaching, we saw that the nearby peak Plačlivô (2125 m) was completely covered in white and looked easy to ski. Martin was afraid of getting hypoglycemia, so he staid in the saddle and took awesome pictures, while me and Kolo went up. We had breathtaking views from the top and there was almost no wind, a perfect day in the mountains!

Kolo and me climbing up with ice axes. We skied the same line.
Sea of clouds with Kráľová hoľa in the background
The ride was less steep than the previous day and the snow much better. As a bonus, we had the whole mountain and surrounding valley only for ourselves. Žiarska dolina is full of great ski lines, so we have to return some day.

Small selection of my photos is on Flickr and an album merged from 3 cameras is on Google+.

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