The Tatras are located on Polish-Slovak border form the central, highest and most beautiful section of the Carpathian mountain range. Tatras is a small rugged massif, with the main Tatra ridge extending 51,5km from east to west and 15km from north to south. The high peaks of the Tatras, called "Smallest High Range in the World", are rugged rock peaks with a dramatic jagged crestline. They rise in a sudden cluster like an island of peaks in the surrounding valleys. The highest peak of the range is Gerlach in Slovakia (2655m) and there are dozens of other rising to over 2000m, and crags often fall over 600m into deep cirques. There are both summer and winter climbing. Skiing and especially off piste skiing in the high valleys is also popular.
As regards type of landscape, geological structure and type of rock, the Tatras may be divided into three parts: the Western Tatras (Tatry Zachodnie), the High Tatras (Tatry Wysokie) and the Bielskie Tatras (Tatry Bielskie).
The Tatras mountainous climate is cold due to high altitude, with much precipitation. Fierce rainstorms or snowstorms all of a sudden are common. For summer climbing, late June and early August provide good conditions as there are heavy storms in late summer. Earlier than this there's much snow. Early to mid October just before the snow arrives may have the best conditions. Heavy snowfalls can occur as early as October and excellent winter climbing can extend till the end of April. Snow lingers in gullies all year round.
The High Tatra is truly an alpine rock climbers paradise since there are no nasty glaciers about and the snow is mostly gone by June, though it may linger in some of the shaded valleys until late August. There are literally hundreds of alpine rock and face climbs. Most importaly the rock quality (granite and gneiss) is on a par with Yosemite and the routes are well established and protected.
In winter Tatras have plenty of ice and mixed climbing. The mountain granite is often very blocky, not dissimilar in form and texture to that found in the Cairngorms of Scotland. It can also be quite vegetated turf). Faces on the Polish side of the range tend to be short on drainage, giving predominantly mixed climbing, but in contrast the Slovakian valleys hold noticeably much more ice. Tatra can often experience a fast freeze-thaw build up of conditions, especially later in the season. Combined with typically fierce cold northerly winds from Poland, this can produce very hard snow.
The whole Polish Tatras area now constitutes the Tatra National Park TPN), whose equivalent on the Slovak side is the Tatransky narodny park (TANAP). They are covered by special regulations governing the behavior of tourist in order to preserve the original fauna and flora of the Tatras (as well as the business of local guides. This also affects climbing, so be sure to check the current restrictions.
The area is easily accessible with trails and several mountain huts. The second highest peak in the range, Lomnicky Stit (2634m), well-known to climbers for its classic rock routes on the sheer wall of the West Face, has a cablecar to the summit. Best known convenient centers are Zakopane in Poland and Poprad in Slovakia.
Both summer and winter routes are given a traditional UIAA numerical grading. There is no real winter grading system in the High Tatra at present, though climbers who have traveled outside Slovakia in recent years are now able to relate to French ice grades and are using them on new routes. A route graded UIAA V or V+ in winter (the grade usually reflects the technical grade of the hardest pitch) will generally equate to Scottish 6, or more.
Hala Gasienicowa located in Dolina Gasienicowa, to the west of Morskie Oko and to the east of the city of Zakopane is a popular climbing base in Polish Tatra. It is easily accessible from Kuznice (bus from Zakopane). There's a large hut "Murowanice" (1500m). Main peaks of the area are Swinica (2301m) and Koscielec (2155m).
The most popular climbing base on Polish side is Morskie Oko Lake located to the east of Dolina Gasienicowa. The area has plenty of hard climbing, both during the summer and winter. 500m high overhanging north face of Kazalnica Mieguszowiecka Wall (The Pulpit, 2438m) is probably the most demanding in the Polish Tatra. The lower (2499m) of the two peaks of Rusy (2503m) is the highest point in Poland, and therefore the mountain is climbed by a lot of people from the Polish side (UIAA I). It is a very steep uphill, but does not require technical climbing. Separate climbing routes are some of the best in the country. The slopes on the Slovakian side are a lot gentler. Other climbing attractions include steep pinnacle of Mnich.
The highest peak of Slovakia is Gerlach (Gerlachovsky, 2655). Gerlach is located in the southeastern part of Tatra in large Mengusovská valley (with side valleys Zlomisková Dolina, Velická Dolina and Batizovská Dolina). Its also possible to climb Rusy from the same valley.
Slovakian valley Dolina Kezmarskej Bielej Vody and its side valleys Dolina Zeleného plesa and Skalnatá Dolina in the Southeast part if High Tatra is one of the main climbing destinations in Tatra. Highest peak of the area is Lomnicky Stit (2634m, the second highest in Tatra). Despite the fact that there's a lift to the summit, there are plenty of climbing routes. Most impressive feature of the area is however Maly Kiezmarski (2514m) with 1000m high north face, that has host of routes from traditional classic routes to modern extreme routes.
Javorov valley of Slovakia is located in the northeastern part of High Tatra, to the NW of Dolina Ke marskej Bielej Vody and separated from it by the main ridge. It is one of the finest and most reliable areas for winter climbing in the Slovakian High Tatra. The extensive 400m high rock walls that extend west from the 2307m Ostry Stit over the various Javorovy peaks (Velky Javorovy, the Maple Peak: 2417m) and Javorov peaks give a fantastic collection of ice and mixed climbing, while elsewhere lie fine, steep but shorter icefalls.
At the head of the Javorov Valley and just northeast of the 2372m Sedielko Pass stands Mala Ladova Stit (2602m: Little Icy Peak). Mala Ladova Veza, North Face "The Chimney of the Vertigos", One of the most difficult ice routes in the region, First ascent by Marian Marek in 1981.
Giewont, ,First ascent
|Franciszek Herbich, Aleksander Zawadzki|
Gerlachovský štít, ,First ascent
Gerlachovský štít, ,First ascent
|: Janusz Chmielowski & Jerzy Wala Jr|
Gerlachovský štít, Karczmarca couloir,First ascent
|Karczmarca couloir: L. Darmstaedter, A. Otto & H. Stabeler|
Gerlachovský štít, Martinovka,First ascent
|Martinovka: Alfred Martin|
Gerlachovská veža, ,First ascent
|G. Horváth, Johann Hunsdorfer sr|
Zadný Gerlach, ,First ascent
|Janusz Chmielowski, J. Wala|
Lavínový štít, ,First ascent
|J. Chmielowski, K. Bachleda, S. Stopka|
Kotlový štít, ,First ascent
|Ján Still, M. Urban Spitzkopf, Gellhof, two guides|
Lavínová veža, ,First ascent
|Janusz Chmielowski, Klemens Bachleda, Stanisław Stopka|
Veľká Litvorová veža, ,First ascent
|G. Horváth, Johann Hunsdorfer|
Popradsky Ladovy Stit, ,First ascent
Lomnický štít, ,First ascent
Ľadový štít, ,First ascent
|John Ball, Wilhelm Richter, Carl Ritter, a Polish philologist, a Hungarian landscape painter and three Polish mountain guides|
Malý Ľadový štít, ,First ascent
|Johann Heinrich Blasius, Simon Fischer, Gustav Hartlaub, Alexander Keyserling|
Pyšný štít, ,First ascent
|Ödön Téry, Martin Spitzkopf|
Malý Pyšný štít, ,First ascent
Strapatá veža, ,First ascent
|Janusz Chmielowski, Tadeusz Radliński, Klemens Bachleda, Jan Bachleda Tajber|
Kežmarský štít, ,First ascent
Maly Kiezmarski, ,Event
|Michal & Miroslav Coubal Pavol Pochyly & Josef Zrust 13.-19.03.1967|
Maly Kiezmarski, ,Event
|Chwascinski, Stanislawski & Ostrowski to the Nemecky Rebrik (diagonal ramp in the midway) 12.-13.07.1932 Stanislawski & Vogel Karel German & Arno Puskas 19.-20.03.1953|
Maly Kiezmarski, ,First ascent
|Karel Bocek, L.Hofirek & R.Kusova|
Maly Kiezmarski, Bocel's Waterfall,First ascent
|Bocel's Waterfall: Karel Bocek, L.Hofirek & R.Kusova|
Baranie rohy, ,First ascent
|Józef Stolarczyk, Ambrozy Trausyl|
Vysoká, ,First ascent
|Mor Dechy, Ján Ruman Driečny, Martin Spitzkopf|
Ťažký štít, ,First ascent
|Ernst Dubke, Johann Franz sr|
Rysy, ,First ascent
|Ede Blásy, Ján Ruman-Driečny, Sr|
Batizovský štít, ,First ascent
|Karol Jurzyca, Józef Galko-Rusnak|
Malé Rysy, ,First ascent
|Janusz Chmielowski, Adam Kroebl, Jakub Bachleda|
Kriváň, ,First ascent
|Andreas Jonas Czirbes|
Slavkovský štít, ,First ascent
Veľký Mengusovský štít, ,First ascent
|Ludwik Chalubinski, Wojciech Roj, Maciej Sieczka|
Východný Mengusovský štít, ,First ascent
|Antonina Englisch, Karol Englisch, Johann Hunsdorfer|
Prostredný Mengusovský štít, ,First ascent
|W. Boldireff, S. Porębskiv|
Čubrina, ,First ascent
|Karol Potkański, Kazimierz Bednarz, Jan Fedra|
|E. Chrobak, A. Heinrich, J. Kurczab & K Zditowiecki|
Kazalnica, ,First ascent
|C. Lapinski & K. Paszucha|
Kazalnica, Lapinski-Paszucha,First ascent
|Lapinski-Paszucha: C. Lapinski & K. Paszucha|
Kazalnica, Lewa Kazalnica,First ascent
|Lewa Kazalnica: J. Dlugosz & C. Momatiuk|
Kazalnica, Dlugosz-Popko,First ascent
|Dlugosz-Popko: J. Dlugosz & M. Popko|
Kazalnica, Sprźyna,First ascent
|Sprźyna: R. Berbeka & M. Gruczynski|
Kazalnica, Superściek,First ascent
|Superściek: Wojciech Kurtyka, Piotr Jasiński, Krzysztof Pankiewicz & Zbigniew Wach|
Kazalnica, Schody do Nieba,First ascent
|Schody do Nieba: Z. Czyźewski & M. Aderek|
Mnich, ,First ascent
|Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski, Maciej Sieczka|
Svinica, ,First ascent
Zamarła Turnia, ,First ascent
|Józef Bajer, Ignacy Król, Ludwik Pręgowski|
Kościelec, ,First ascent