The High Tatras including Rysy are sharp and beautiful mountains on the border between Slovakia and Poland. After visiting the highest peak of every European country, I regard them even as one of the most beautiful mountain range in the whole Europe. Hikes in the high Tatras are wonderful and summit to Rysy definitely belongs to them too. Follow this article for all information you need before your visit to Rysy. I provide all practical information, a map and my personal experience.
Important information for climbing Rysy
Short description of the ascent from Štrbské Pleso: Hike with easy scrambling on the way Essential equipment: Standard hiking gear Best time to visit: 15th June - 1st November (the route is closed during winter) Fees or restrictions: Yes, the route is closed between 1st November and 15th June, there is a small fee at the entrance of the national park if you decide to climb Rysy from Polish side Camping allowed: No Nearest accommodation/food supply: Chata pod Rysmi Height of the peak: 2499 m Hiking distance from Štrbské Pleso: 9.6 km (one way) Time to ascend to Rysy: 4-6 hours up, 2-4 hours back Elevation climbed: 1201 m Water availability on the mountain: Chata pod Rysmi Difficulty level: *** (6 stars maximum) Personal rating of the mountain: ***** (6 stars maximum) Beer on the peak: Salus Tatranský pšeničný speciál 13 (wheat beer) *** (6 stars maximum)
What is the best route to Rysy?
From the Polish Side:
1. From Palenica Białczańska via Morskie Oko: To get to the start of this route hikers usually stay at Zakopane the day before the hike. From there you can take a car or bus to the trailhead at Palenica Białczańska. The hike takes you through the scenic Tatra National Park, passing the beautiful Morskie Oko lake. Until Morskie Oko, the trail is very popular and the route can be crowded. An early start is highly recommended. From there, the trail continues to the Rysy summit. The final section involves a bit of scrambling and the trail is secured with a via ferrata. Check out map of the hike here.
From the Slovak Side:
2. From Štrbské Pleso via Popradské Pleso:
This route begins in Štrbské Pleso, a popular resort area in Slovakia. The trail leads through the picturesque Popradské Pleso including a hut where you can take a break and something to eat or drink and then ascend toward Rysy. This route is known for its beautiful alpine scenery, with several mountain lakes along the way. The final stretch to the summit involves some steep sections, including the rocky and exposed Pyramid section, which leads to the highest point. You can find a cozy mountain hut Chata pod Rysmi just 250 elevation meters under the peak. I highly recommend to stay over at this hut if you would like to witness a wonderful sunrise/sunset from Rysy. Take a look at the map here. We’ll take a deeper look at this route in this article.
Map of the best route to Rysy
My story of climbing the highest mountain of Poland – Rysy with personal tips
I climbed Rysy both from the Polish and Slovakian side. The Polish route is a bit more challenging and exposed but otherwise both of them are very beautiful. In this article I will explain to you the Slovakian route which I took during my expedition European Peaks during which I climbed the highest point of every European country.
After a warm-up at Sněžka in the Czech Republic I finally headed to real mountains. I very much looked forward to the High Tatras mountains because when I was born these mountains still belonged to my country Czechoslovakia. Now the Tatras are shared just between Slovakia and Poland after the Czechoslovakian state split in 1993.
While waiting for better weather you can climb another mountain
Bad weather in Slovakia made me change my plan for the first time during my expedition. I wanted to climb the highest mountain of Slovakia Gerlachovský Štít first but the weather was so bad for three days that it was impossible. Luckily it was not difficult to find an alternative plan. We just followed the simple rule: It doesn’t rain in pubs, cafes and restaurants so we tasted some local specialties and loaded some energy.
The weather forecast was not much better for the following day either but my time was running out so I couldn’t afford to wait any longer. In the end my father and I decided to visit mountain Rysy first despite an expected shower and try to attempt to summit Gerlachovský Štít later during better weather.
The perfect hike for beginners
The Polish highest point Rysy is much easier to summit than Gerlachovský Štít. There is a very nice path leading to the top and there is also a cabin called Chata pod Rysmi just 200 m below it. You can use it for a break with some snack on the way up or even stay overnight. This cabin became our goal the first day. Then depending on the weather we wanted to summit Rysy either in the evening or during the following morning to catch beautiful light on the top.
Unfortunately, we had to choose the easier way up from Slovakian side. The way up from the Polish side is much more exposed and we didn’t want to risk any danger. The weather forecast was not good so we started our trip from Popradské Pleso. The big advantage of the High Tatras is that you can reach the entrances to the national park by train. This place was not an exception.
Hiking to Rysy from Slovakia
We took a lunch at Popradské Pleso and my father felt so strong after eating the local goulash that he accepted a challenge to bring some supply to the mountain cabin Chata Pod Rysmi. This cabin works on an amazing principle. Since there is no road leading to it the only way to carry food and other products to the local restaurant is on people’s backs. If you manage to carry more than 5 kg to the hut you will receive a reward – a hot tea. The cabin has been working on this voluntary principle since its opening and it has worked perfectly so far. I am proud of my father who managed to take up 5 kg of beer. I was happy with my 20 kg of climbing and camera equipment so I sadly didn’t help this time.
Snow surprise at Rysy
The weather forecast was correct! We were halfway to the cabin when a storm came. To our surprise it was not raining though but snowing. After half an hour the High Tatras received 5 cm of fresh snow. Very surprising for the 1st of July. Luckily the path uphill was so steep that we never got cold.
Just before reaching the mountain hut the storm finished and dark clouds disappeared. Suddenly, we got an amazing view over surrounding mountains. I especially liked the view from the local latrine. Amazing place if you need to poo.
The cosy hut Pod Rysmi
Since we managed to ascent 1000 m and ended up in a small blizzard we got hungry. We ordered typical Slovak food “Halušky s bryndzou” and to our surprise the food was better and cheaper than back in the valley! This cabin is amazing!
Unfortunately, clouds came back while we were eating so we didn’t go up to the mountain Rysy that day. Instead, we joined a little party with Slovak, Czech and Dutch visitors. There was a perfect atmosphere. Nobody was checking Facebook since there was no signal. We played cards under candlelight since there was no electricity and drank chilled beers taken up by my father. As a bonus the children of the cabin manager played relaxing piano songs.
Next day I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to go up for sunrise. When I came to the window though I found out that the fog is even thicker than last night so I decided to continue sleeping. We woke up later at 6 a.m. but the weather was still the same. We took an excellent breakfast and wanted to go up. The weather was worse and worse though so we ordered some mulled wine. This order made my slightly impatient father able to wait a bit longer and finally at around 10 a.m. the weather started to improve. Time to go!
Waiting paid off
It took only one hour to summit the peak. The problem was which is the right one? The mountain Rysy has three peaks- the highest, the middle and the lowest. Instinctively I climbed the highest (2503 m) one but when looking on my map I realized that it was not the highest point of Poland. The peak I was standing on was lying in Slovakia. That’s why I had to descent to the middle one which lies on the border with Poland and that was finally the correct peak.
Our timing couldn’t be better. The clouds disappeared just when we arrived and we had a wonderful view over winter on the peaks and summer in the valleys.
Then, we had to go back in the valley. The 10 km long descent to Popradské Sedlo was tiring but still okay. The problem was that once we received phone coverage again we found out that the weather forecast for the following day is perfect. That meant only one thing: we have to move to the starting point of the climb to Gerlachovský Štít which is an additional 15 km hike. Good that it went smoother at least thanks to this awesome guide. We made it to the hut Sliezský Dom late in the evening.
My tips for the mountain Rysy:
- If you decide to climb the mountain Rysy, stay at the cabin Chata Pod Rysmi. It was for sure one of the most cozy accommodations on my whole expedition.
- Summit both the highest and the middle peak of Rysy. Surprisingly, the middle peak is the highest point of Poland.
- Help the mountain cabin Pod Rysmi and bring up at least a bit of supply. If you feel strong enough, you can bring over 5 kg and you will get a free tea.