Sunday, January 18, 2009

Over the Krkonoše Mountains to Poland 18/1/09 Day 185

Day 185 (Slide show) (Video)

I woke at around 6AM and went downstairs to find a cup of coffee. It wasn’t ready yet but as I waited I check out the weather outside. It’s not looking good, high clouds, wind and cold. The storm that was forecasted is on its way. I decided to get ready early just in case the lower chair is closed I would have time to make that part of the climb. I had a hard time sleeping last night. I couldn’t stop thinking about this bad section I was about to traverse across. With the high wind the cornice would be larger and less stable. The traverse is quite long and very steep; it will be very tricky with all this weight. I’m here for the adventure though so let’s go. If it was easy then everyone would do it, right.

I got to the lower chair at 8:30AM to find it open. Friday it didn’t open until 10AM, this is a good sign. I will be able to save a couple of hours by taking this chair to the halfway house. As I expected they have closed the upper chair. The climb wasn’t that bad and I made good time considering how much weight I had. I was the only one climbing for some time then I spotted a few others gaining on me as I approached the summit. One Czech guy was carrying a snow kite and I talked to him for a moment, he caught up to me as I was just about to reach the peak and he was kind enough to take a few shots of me. He spoke good English which was nice. This guy looked like a good skier so I asked him if he was going to take the traverse around the back side and he said defiantly not. The area is closed but on Friday we went anyway because there was no wind and still it was a scary place. When he said this I asked if I could follow him down the West face. He said sure so we proceeded to the summit together.

On the summit the wind was quite strong and we both took a break behind a building to catch our breath and get out of the very cold wind. This is the kind of wind that goes right through you and we both just wanted to get off the peak. We put on our skies and headed off together but because of my packs he soon got ahead of me. The west face was solid ice and it was also the trail coming from the lodges. This trail had ropes and chains that I had to avoid as well as the switchbacks and ruts the hikers made. Very tough stuff but I’m still glad I didn’t try the traverse in the closed area. I lost control a few times and on one fall my back pack went over my head and hooked onto the front pack which was a bit funny because I was all tangled up. I had virtually no edges and could only slide when turning. It was very frustrating and tricky.

I made it though and then to my surprise there was Andrew starting to climb up from the Polish lodge. We stopped at the lodge for a break from the wind. I wasn’t very hungry but Andrew had climbed up from the Polish side starting at 4AM in the dark so he could snow kite at dawn. He had figured that the Forrest Police wouldn’t be out that early but he got busted anyway. It is illegal to snow kite up here which is a real stupid rule but they have very strict rules here. Skiers can’t leave the trails so it is impossible for the folks with snow kites. The bad thing is they chase you down on snowmobiles and they go off the trails. These snowmobiles do more damage to the area then anyone with a snow kite.

We left the yellow Polish lodge where they only take PLN currency by the way and headed out. It was now about 1PM and we still had a ways to go to reach the Polish ski area to the north. The wind was very strong at this point and on one occasion it blew me over as I was doing a step turn for a picture. It was very funny and I couldn’t get back up without taking off a ski. The weight of my packs and the wind made it impossible. I think I was getting very tired too.

After a few hours we made the Polish ski area where there were very icy conditions and not enough snow to cover the rocks and tree branches. It was very hard skiing. We reached the bottom about 4PM and headed for the car. I was ready for a good beer and wanted to fall asleep.

First we stopped by Andrews’s dorm and I saw the village area where he lives. I think he lives in Dolina Pieciu Potokow but I’m not sure about that. Maybe you can help me with this Andrew. Send me a comment. It’s about 30K from the Polish resort.

We got under way about 7PM for a 5 to 6 hour drive to Prague. Looking back at it I really had a good time, far better then I expected when I was planning it. Thanks to Andrew for helping me because I couldn’t have pulled it off without him. Everyone I spoke to, Czech and Polish had not done this in the winter before even though I’m sure it has. It’s just too hard to get a ride back around the Krkonoše Mountains.