The most difficult and most dangerous trail in Tatra Mountains. Secured by chains, ladders and metal steps. If you like adrenaline, you will like this path!
Orla Perć (Eagle’s Path) was built on the beginning of 20th century by polish mountaineers who wanted to show beauty of Tatra Mountains to people who don’t have climbing skills. It is 4 km path which leads mostly along the mountain ridge. It starts at Zawrat (2159 m) et ends at Krzyżne (2112 m).
Trail is secured by chains and other metal aids but it’s not “via ferrata” as e.g. in Alps. There isn’t metal line. You can connect to chains, but there are parts, which are not secured by chains and they are still dangerous. If you go there, you have to take into account that you can die.
Since now about 100 tourists died at Orla Perć. Most of tragic accidents happened when person slipped on snow, ice or wet stones (in July there can still be snow). Second cause of death is getting lost. I think the trail is very well marked and I didn’t have any problems with finding a path but I was there in good weather. When there’s fog it might be easy to lose trail and go to very difficult region. Some people say Orla Perć should be changed to via ferrata, but others say it’s historical path, has cultural values and should remain as it is. To improve safety, about 10 years ago it was set as one way trail.
I was twice on Orla Perć but I didn’t walk the whole. Middle section still waits for me :)
The best point to start trip to Orla Perć is Murowaniec Hut or Hut in Dolina Pięciu Stawów (Five Ponds Valley). The problem is, both huts are very popular and you have to book in advance to have accomodation there. Additionally, in Murowaniec it’s not allowed to sleep on the floor. In the hut in Dolina Pięciu Stawów it is allowed but in summer weekends it can be difficult to find accomodation even on the floor… And when you book in advance you never know if weather will be good. I didn’t want to go to Orla Perć during rain or after rain when it’s slippy so I decided to spend night in Zakopane city.
My first time at Orla Perć was also my first time on trail secured by chains. I knew Orla Perć is the most difficult path in Tatra Mountains but I have never been before in high Tatras so I didn’t know what it means “the most difficult”. How difficult? “I am though quite fit, I was a few times on climbing wall and I chose the last section of Orla Perć which isn’t the most difficult part, so I will manage it“. And I managed. But it was really difficult for me and I don’t recommend to go there if you don’t have experience with such trails.
On mapa-turystyczna.pl I marked my trip. In fact it was a little longer, because (as every poor student ;)) I wanted to save money and I found accommodation 5 km from Zakopane. I started my trip at 5 am to have enough time.
On the beginning I was fast. I ate breakfast in Murowaniec and at 9:30 am I was already at Czarny Staw (Black Pond).
It was early so I made break to watch beautiful views. I even had time to make photos of plants :)
But when I got higher my time disappeared. In fact even trail ascending to Orla Perć turned out to be difficult for me. The section of Orla Perć from Granaty to Krzyżne is 1:45h according to my map but it took me about 4 hours :) Delay wasn’t only my fault. It was September but there was still many tourists and when one of them stopped because he/she had problems managing some part, everyone behind had to stop and wait. But there were also few parts at which I stopped and I had to think how to walk this and not fall… I think that now it would be much easier for me but 4 years ago I didn’t have experience and I even didn’t know that it’s much easier to descent walking back than front.
I was at Krzyżne at about 4 pm and it was 3 hours before sunset. I accelerated and was doing my best to go down before sunset because I didn’t have any torch. “For sure I will be back in Zakopane before sunset so I won’t need a torch“.
Despite efforts I didn’t manage it and I was late about one hour. Fortunately it was Sunday so many tourists were coming back and I returned with group of few persons who had torches. And I had lovely views from Przełęcz między Kopami :)
My second trip was in August 2015. I was more experienced and I decided to walk first section of Orla Perć which is the most difficult part and to go until Granaty, when recently I started.
As previous I didn’t want to increase risk on wet stones so I decided to go to Zakopane when I knew the weather will be good. This time I booked a night in hostel in center of Zakopane so it was a little closer than recently (Top Hostel – I can recommend it if you look for something cheap, with english speaking staff).
At 6 am I had a chance to see empty Krupówki – popular, always crowded street. I think when it’s empty it’s much nicer :)
At 8 am, exactly as 3 years earlier I was already at Hala Gąsienicowa, where is located Murowaniec Hut.
After breakfest I went to Zawrat, where starts Orla Perć. Although I was better prepared and I knew how to walk on such trails this time it was also tough for me. There wasn’t any moments at which I didn’t know what to do but it was all time stress. I didn’t have via ferrata equipment and I knew that every bad move can cause my death. I like adrenaline and challenges but there, after some time I couldn’t wait for some easier parts :)
Most stressful for me was ladder on Kozia Przełęcz. My legs where shaking when I was going down. I was suprised of my reaction because I don’t have fear of height and technically it wasn’t difficult. Just ladder. But it was very windy this day and I think this caused most of my fear. I was holding the ladder very firmly because I was afraid some strong wind blow could blow me out ;)
Exactly as 3 years earlier I spent more time on Orla Perć, than my map says. It was about 4 pm when I was on the beginning of black trail going to Kozia Dolinka (Żleb Kulczyńskiego) and I decided to go down that way. I was angry on myself that I didn’t manage to accomplish my plan but I was also happy that it’s end of my stress ;)
I was planning to go down fast but it turned out it wasn’t so easy because there wasn’t path… There were black signs of some stones but trail was just scattered stones. Apparently there was avalanche some time ago. I was wondering if strong wind can cause next avalanche and just in case I didn’t make any breaks and tried to walk as fast as possible ;)
Kozia Dolinka in english is Goat Valley and just after this valley, next to Czarny Staw I saw them: about 15 Tatra chamois, including young ones. I took my camera as fast as possible to make them photos before they ran away but it turned out they are not scared at all. When I was few metres from them I started to be scared ;) I wasn’t sure if I can just go a path so close to young chamoises… if parents let me?
Fortunately parents weren’t aggresive but I lost much time on difficulties on black trail and watching animals, and as a result, exactly as 3 years earlier I was on Przełęcz między Kopami during sunset. But this time I had a torch. And this time I helped one tourist who didn’t have one ;)