Ascent to Gerlachovský štít-Northwest Basin on 1993-07-31

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, July 31, 1993
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Gerlachovský štít - Northwest Basin
    Elevation:7464 ft / 2275 m
    Remaining Elevation:1243 ft / 378 m (39% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

I left the Sliezsky Dom hut in the Tatra Mountains very early in the morning (4:30 AM) for a second attempt at Gerlach, the bureaucratically off-limits peak I had turned back on yesterday. My plan was to hike up into the cirque above Batizovske Lake and gain the north ridge of the peak, since I had found the south ridge impassable. First I stashed my heavy sleeping bag in the bushes at a trail junction halfway to the peak, then got to the lake, didn't see anyone around, and took off up into the cirque. I was glad it was early, since I was in plain view from the trail for most of the time I was in the cirque. The weather was perfect--not a cloud in the sky.

I climbed uphill easily at first, finding faint trails that I took as a very good sign, and after climbing some knolls, ramps, scree couloirs, and other varied terrain, I was well up into the cirque, towards its headwall crowned with jagged spires. I kept thinking I would see an easy route up to the north ridge of Gerlach to my right, but the mountain presented a continuous steep face. At 2275 meters--lower than I had been yesterday--I finally reached a point where I could see that there was no easy way at all up from the cirque to anywhere.

Reluctantly, I turned back. My faint paths had died, my knee still hurt pretty bad, I didn't see any good route, and I was fearful of being arrested in a foreign land as a national park trespasser. Having now reconnoitered the south, west, and north sides of Gerlach, I realized that the east side was probably the best bet for an easy route. Plus, I think I recalled the guide in the Rysy hut and the Slovak guy I had talked to last night hinting that the east was best, but it was too late for that now. Tired, and having made two attempts on the peak already, I had no choice but to get down out of the mountains. I was anxious to get to the Alps soon anyway.

So I retraced my path back down the cirque to Batizovske Lake. While in the lower part of the cirque I saw a party coming the other way--I didn't try to avoid them, since they could plainly see me, and we passed each other without saying anything. Either they were just as scared of me as I was of them, or else they didn't care that I was obviously breaking the Gerlach guide rule. I got back to the lake at 8:35 AM, then hiked down to the next trail junction, where I got my sleeping bag back and hiked down below timberline on a cut-off trail, which soon led to the paved road servicing Sliezsky Dom. Hiking on this road was no fun, even though there was no traffic on it--it was hot, and the pavement hurt my knee, so I took the earliest opportunity to bail out on a parallel hiking trail that crossed and re-crossed the road before taking me back to the village of Tatranska Polianka.

This was a long way from where I had parked my car, so I was planning to take the train back to Shtrbske Pleso. I got lucky and just barely made a train I saw from across the main road by jogging over to it with my full pack. The six mile, twenty minute train ride in a rickety old car on a very hilly and winding track cost me just 7 SLK (US $0.25)--outrageously cheap by any standard.

My car was just where I had left it in the big parking garage at Shtrbske Pleso, and I changed into clean clothes and got a snack of ice cream and a hot dog from nearby vendors before leaving. I drove south, down a couple of switchbacks to the lowlands, and stopped on a roadside to take one last picture of the towering Tatra under clear blue skies before heading west.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1985 ft / 605 m
    Total Elevation Loss:4249 ft / 1295 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.5 mi / 13.7 km
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1985 ft / 605 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Start Trailhead:Sliezsky Dom  5479 ft / 1669 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:4249 ft / 1295 m
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    End Trailhead:Tatranska Polianka  3215 ft / 979 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 1993 - Gerlach (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Rysy-North Peak1993-07-29 a3868 ft / 1179 m
2Rysy1993-07-29 b43 ft / 13 m
4(Attempt) Gerlachovský štít1993-07-303166 ft / 965 m
5(Attempt) Gerlachovský štít1993-07-311985 ft / 605 m
Total Trip Gain: 9062 ft / 2762 m    Total Trip Loss: 10178 ft / 3102 m

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