Glimpses of Tatra Mountains
by Lucia Parretti
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Part of the Carpathian mountains range, Tatra mountains straddle the Slovak-Polish border in Northern Slovakia. They are split by the valley of river river Váh into the northern High Tatras (in slovak Vysoké Tatry) and the southern Low Tatras (in slovak Nizké Tatry).

Most of the photos shown here were taken on August 19, 1997 during an excursion to Lomnicky Peak (Lomnický Štít, 2634 m or 8642 ft) which is accessible by a cabin cable-line. In the Tatras that is quite late with the Summer season gone and the Winter skiing season still far away. Yet, as these shots testify, the mountains with their rapidly changing moods can offer splendid glimpses and unexpected vistas at any time the year round. I was not able to identify many of the surrounding peaks which kept appearing among clouds and then hiding again. I would be most grateful to anybody who could help me with the identification or correct any errors I might have made.

Approaching Tatras

through the valley of river Váh from the West, one can view the panorama of both High Tatras and Low Tatras (the ones shown should be Low Tatras). The day when this picture was taken (August 18, 1997) the whether was impressively uninviting.

As testified by the freshly harvested grain fields in the foreground, river Váh valley agriculture, though quite extensive, is rather poor due to the area's altitute.

Close to Rocky Tarn (Skalnaté pleso)

Undaunted by the whether, we have persisted and the next day took a cable line from Tatranská Lomnica to the Rocky Tarn (tarn means mountain lake, locally called pleso) which is located about 1751m (5741 ft) above sea level.

As it often happens in the mountains, the whether was very moody. In this case, that was most welcome since it meant that now and then we could see a patch of blue sky with a hint of mountains somewhere close.

The 'shrubs' growing all around are dwarf mountain pines (Pinus mugo) trees. At this combination of latitude/altitude, tall trees can't make it.

Cabin cable-line to Lomnicky Peak

Rocky Tarn is still a relatively high-tech place. Nevertheless, we observe with concern the tiny airborn cabin suspended above the lake and heading upwards. The thin cables disappear in the clouds and there is no hint at all of whether there is anything beyond.

View more Rocky Tarn photos

Riding up

The journey up to Lomnicky Peak (2634 m) takes enough time for the whether to change a few times and give us some nice views. The elevation jump from Rocky Tarn to Lomnicky Peak is 883 m !

On the left we now overlook Lomnicky Range in the general direction of Gerlachov Peak
(Gerlachovský Štít)

On the right is Rocky valley
(Skalnatá Dolina).

Atop Lomnicky Peak, 2634 m (8642 ft),

we are almost above the clouds !!! And,
for the moment, the view is excellent.

Left: Upper part of the Small Cold Valley
(Malá Studená Dolina)

Right: The Great Frozen Valley
(Vel'ká Zmrzlá Dolina)

And - in case you wonder - yes, it is me.

Where Gerlachov Peak should have been

The highest mountain of the whole Carpathians,
the mighty Gerlachov Peak (Gerlachovský Štít),
2655 m (8711 ft), is shy and hiding behind clouds.
Even so, the view is majestic.

Ice Peak (L'adový Štít)

Just a bit to the left of where Gerlachov Peak is hiding, we get a nice view of the Ice Peak towering over the upper portion of Small Cold Valley (Malá Studená Dolina). With its 2627 meters (8619 ft) it is the third highest mountain in High Tatras (the second is Lomnicky Peak on which we are standing).

Small Cold Valley (Malá Studená Dolina)

The name of this valley is actually quite unjust since it is neither small nor particularly cold. It is known for its hiking opportunities, its group of five mountain lakes (some are visible in both photos) and for the mountain refuge Tery's Cabin (Teryho chata) which is the highest-located one in all of the Carpathians to be open whole year around.

The hikers on the right are finishing their clime from the tarns to Lomnicky Peak.

And believe me - the color difference between the two photos is due just to the whimsy Sun playing with the clouds.


All I can tell you about these views is that I like them. It is amazing how many different views can one collect from the top of just one mountain peak !!!

Ocean bottom ...

Riding the cable back from Lomnicky Peak to Rocky Tarn, the funny whether kept playing funny tricks with our eyes.

If I told you this was the bottom of an ocean, would you believe it? In any case, that was my impression.

... or a mountain plateau ?

A few minutes later one trick is over and another one is in the making. In between, we perhaps see the reality ...

... which is the Rocky Tarn (Skalnaté pleso) plateau with its refuge and the cable-line station.

Rocky Tarn is also the location of an astronomical observatory (the tiny dome in the dead center of the picture) where Antonin Mrkos discovered a long list of comets and asteroids.

Far below in the background is the valley of river Váh.

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