Photography of a person standing in woods with direct sunlight
Slovakia

My Failed Hike in Rohace – Western Tatras

At the beginning of this autumn, I went on a two-day trip to the Tatras in Slovakia. I was attracted by the less known part near Poland – Roháče in the Western Tatras. Here, mountains are not as high as mountains in the High Tatras, but they still offer a unique adventure. To be more specific, crossing the Rohace ridge is an exceptional experience. I’m a huge fan of hiking (my hiking experience in Lofoten), therefore I was attracted to one of the most dangerous and challenging hikes in the whole Tatras. And I thought I could handle this hike in Rohace without any problems. How naive I was!

Really Dangerous Hike in Rohace

The very first evening when I arrived at the mountain cottage Zverovka, I was unpleasantly surprised by what I found. Right next to the Zverovka cottage is a symbolic cemetery (and it is quite large) dedicated to all people who lost their lives on the local mountain peaks. By the entrance is a wooden sign saying “Warning for living people”. I will not lie to you, I was well aware that the hard hike in Rohace awaited me, but the cemetery wasn’t that scary. Unlike the bear roaring, I heard that night from a distance… there are more than 1200 huuuge bears in Slovakia 🙂

 

Rohace is a mountain range formed by several peaks – Banikov, Spalena, Tri Kopy. The highest of them is mountain Bystra, it is 2,248 meters high. You have to walk on a narrow rocky ridge and stick to the chains to get from one peak to another. And if you’re not careful enough and slip… it’s over. That’s why this hike is so dangerous. If the weather is bad you have no way of climbing down; nowhere to escape.

Landscape photography of Spalena Valley during a hike in Rohace
Spalena Valley in Rohace

Breathtaking Hike in Slovakian Tatras

The next morning I got up around 6 am. After a good breakfast, with a smile on my face, I set out on an adventure. Mountain chalet Zverovka is one of the few starting places from where you can go to Rohace (the closest choice is Tatliakova Chata). Although it is close, you have to walk about 5 km through the Rohacska valley to get to the trail where the real hike to Rohace begins.

So the plan was simple – to climb to one of the peaks and then cross the Rohace ridge. It seemed easy. The weather was good and the wild nature around was a feast for the eyes. The fresh mountain air is always a cure for the soul for an urban person like me. I took my first break at the Rohacsky waterfall, which disarmed me with its rawness and beauty. I’ve seen a lot of amazing and much more massive waterfalls in Norway, but this waterfall has grown more to my heart than any other. 

Beautiful nature photography of Roháčsky waterfall in western tatras
Rohacsky Waterfall in Western Tatras

Even More Exciting Nature in Rohace

After a while I got to Spalena Valley (1500 m), I was excited about the fairytale place I’ve just appeared. Lots of diversity, greenery ahead of me, snow-covered and steep mountain peaks above all of it. I was at the crossroads. The vast majority of people from this point set out to the mountain lakes (1700 m). Fools like me choose another direction – to the top of Banikov (2178 m).

I was surprised that I felt tired, I only have traveled barely a quarter of the planned trip. Since morning I had a slight headache and as I climbed up I felt more and more pressure in my head. Plus, I wore a backpack that weighed about 20 kg. Yes, I never learn.

My First Hiking Fail

Part of the mission accomplished. I stood on top and enjoying the epic landscape view around me – not even for a minute. The weather got very bad. It started heavily snowing and the wind was blowing so hard that I had to hide behind rocks immediately. While the temperature in the Spalena Valley was around 10°C, there was -5°C here. Even though I was prepared for such low temperatures, I was freezing to the bone while trying to shoot something. Visibility became very low. It was decided. I couldn’t risk this and gave up on crossing the ridge of Rohace. Game Over for me.

I kept the “best” at the end for you. Imagine that you are almost frozen to death, exhausted and have a few hours of descent ahead of you. You barely see anything. And suddenly you hear something. I looked up and saw a half-naked man (only wearing shorts and boots) running. Haha, RUNNING! This man also had weights on his chest and back. So far I have not understood how this was possible. I don’t know if he was an Olympian or a fool, but he has all my respect. One of the biggest WTFs of my life! 🙂

Landscape photography of Western Tatras and Banikov mountain
I made it to the top!

5 Tips for Rohace hiking :

      • Start your trip from the closest point -> Tatliakova chata (see map below)
      • Plan your hike in a way that you don’t miss mountain lakes “Rohacska plesa” (see map below)
      • Head out for sure early in the morning and make sure the weather is good
      • Be aware that this is a very challenging hike
      • Keep in mind that the Western Tatras are the place where the largest concentration of bears in Central Europe is

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