Slovakian Tatra – Mick Fowler’s Vague Adventure

’70 degrees’ It didn’t say anything else. Just ’70 degrees’

The guidebook description of the desperate pitch that Neil McAdie and I had just climbed left much scope for uncertainty. Its delightful vagueness was much to my liking.

It was Tony Walker who had invited us to the area. A veteran of 12 previous visits he assured me that the climbing and ambience of the mountains around the Chata pri Zelenom Plese in the Slovakian Tatra would be to my liking.

Initial impressions were good. A welcome pint glass of tea with unidentified floating bits washed down with a heady shot of slivovitz.

Bruno the hut dog was very welcoming too.

Day one saw Neil and I scratching our way up a popular line which I think was called L’avy Y. I say ‘think’ because we could never quite understand the guidebook.

Perhaps it was the frequent passing of feet but there was less tufting and more scratching than we expected. I did though get lost, curse the in-situ bolts and generally get frightened.

Neil lost on the climb we think was called L’avy Y.

Day 2 saw us traversing a long ridge to the summit of a 2,200m peak which I think was called Jahnaci Stit. At one point a mountain goat danced effortlessly across the slopes above us. Perhaps unsurprisingly it didn’t seem at all concerned that we might catch it up.

Neil being dismally left behind by a mountain goat.

Day 3 the weather wasn’t so good so a leisurely start consuming vast quantities of buffet breakfast was in order.

Eventually Neil and I improved our complexions in the wind and spindrift by climbing a couple of pitches of a climb I knew only as number 86.

The infamous 70 degrees pitch was the second one which consisted of intricate climbing on stringy tufts and awkward bridging. I suppose the overall angle might have been 70 degrees but that didn’t quite sum up the pitch somehow.

Neil enjoying ‘easier climbing’ leading to the 70 degree pitch.

Day 4 saw a change of climbing partners with me teaming up with Tony Walker to climb Zlata Nitka. This too was highly approved. Stringy tufts, no bolts and plenty of pitches. Tony got the hard one. 

Back at the hut for our final evening Bruno was appropriately welcoming, the mandatory complimentary beer with dinner was highly approved. Much slivovitz was consumed and toasts raised to the fine members of our team: Tony Walker, Rick Graham, Neil McAdie, Susan Jensen, Fiona Murray, Zofia Lisowski and Stuart Janczak.

L to R. Neil McAdie, Tony Walker, Zofia Lisowski, Fiona Murray, Susan Jensen, Mick Fowler, Stuart Janczak and Rick Graham.

With the mountains only a short flight from Luton, a 20 Euro taxi ride and a 2.5 hour walk from the airport at Poprad there is a lot to be said for a short trip to the Slovakian Tatra.

Mick Fowler