2499 m a.s.l. – the highest point of Poland, lying on the border with Slovakia. The steep and long trail, with amazing views on surrounding mountains and lakes. Worth to visit!
You can get to Rysy from both polish and slovakian side, and I chose to hike there from polish side.
The best starting point is mountain hut at Morskie Oko but it’s very popular and you have to book there accommodation in few weeks advance. I spent a night in Roztoka hut which is further from the peak but it’s not so popular. I phoned 2 days earlier and they still had a bed.
To avoid crowds I decided to hike to Rysy on Monday. On Sunday evening I came to Zakopane, took a bus to Palenica Białczańska and walked to Roztoka. The hut is located close to the trail leading to Morskie Oko. It’s not interesting trail. From Palenica to Morskie Oko it’s 9 km, to Roztoka it’s 3 km and it’s just broad asphalt road mainly in the forest, in summer always crowded.
You can get to Morskie Oko by a horse cart but I don’t recommend it, if you like animals. These horses work in extreme conditions and sometimes die because of exhaustions. Animal organisations try to encourage director of the Tatra National Park to ban it, and there’s petition on this case on avaaz.org.
On Monday I started my trip at 5 am because weather forecast showed afternoon thunderstorms (they’re common in Tatras in June and July).
I went out from the hut and after about 10 minutes of walk in narrow path, looking around with light fear of bears, I came to aforementioned asphalt road. At this early hour it was empty :)
More interesting part of trail starts when you get to Morskie Oko. It’s the biggest lake in Tatra Mountains and it’s always full of tourists. Except early hours ;) At 7 am I had a chance to see its beauty in silence and emptiness.
The trail leads further to the next lake – Czarny Staw pod Rysami (Black Lake below Mount Rysy) when you can get in about 1 hour from Morskie Oko. Later during hike you’ll see amazing view on both lakes.
At Czarny Staw starts the most demanding part of trail. From that point it’s about 3 km of walk and 900 m of denivelation to the summit, so it’s quite steep.
Some parts of trail were still covered in snow (it was beginning of July) but winter equipment wasn’t necessary.
Most of the trail is narrow path made of stones. At about 2200 m a.s.l. starts the most difficult part which is secured by metal chains. This part probably would be very demanding for you if you don’t have experience in such trails or have fear of heights but it’s not the hardest trail in Tatras. If you want to gain experience on difficult trails and of course if you accept risk which is involved in walking on High Tatras, I think Rysy is good place to start.
I regret I didn’t make any photos to show you how this part of trail looks like but I was too tired to make them… I had a headache, nausea and I was so weak I had to stop every few steps. Tourists who started their hike later than me were overtaking me and I was wondering if I was closer to vomiting or fainting. And if it’s altitude sickness or my bad condition or I drunk or ate too little… ? I’ve never before had such symptoms during hiking.
Fortunately the clouds were still far from cumulonimbus so I had time for being slow. Finally, at 12 am, I got to the top. Although it wasn’t weekend, it was full of tourists.
I spent half an hour on the peak, I rested, ate and drunk much and I was still feeling sick. So it must have been altitude sickness. I was surprised of my body’s reaction, because 2500 m is not so high… I started to feel better when I descent about 200 m and at about 2000 m all my symptoms disappeared. I finished my trip in Palenica where I took a bus to Zakopane. The whole trip took me 14 hours and it was one of my most exhausting hikes.
Here I marked my trip:
By the way: As I know, the trail from Slovakia it’s technically easier than from Poland. I haven’t been there yet but if you’re afraid of steep parts with chains maybe that side would be the better choice. Also note, that in Slovakia all trails in high mountains are officially closed from November to the middle of June. In Poland they are open but trail to Rysy from polish side leads on the north side so in May and beginning of June there can still be winter conditions. It means, that if you’re not experienced hiker, the best time to go to Rysy is between July and October.
This is so up my alley. I love a good hike. I may just have to add it to my list for next year as I have a couple of other places in Switzerland I would love to hike next year.
Wow 14 hours that is quite the hike. The views seem to make it quite worthwhile. The part with the chain scares me a little bit though.
Yeah, it was demanding but beautiful trail. Thanks for reading.
Nice Blog. I’m thinking of hiking from Slovakia to Poland via this route, with my backpack (say 15kgs?). Do you think this is possible? Once on the Polish side, is it relatively easy to get to a town and eat/sleep, before continuing on to Krakow?
Yes, if you have good condition, it is possible. From Palenica to Zakopane there are buses, which during high season go every ca. 15 minutes. I’m not sure what time departures the last, but I think it’s about 9 pm. In Zakopane there are many places to eat and sleep, however if you plan to visit it on summer weekend and you want to find some cheap accommodation I would suggest to make reservation at least few days earlier.
Thanks for the nice blog. I am trekking to the Rysy top (as you described in your blog), do I need any mountaineering gear? Also, is it safe to trek it solo?
Hi, in summer you don’t need any mountaineering gear. Trekking alone is always more risky than with a group, however if you go there during weekend in high season there will be many other tourists so in case of accident surely someone would help you.
I actually have a GoPro video of myself climbing the chains. If you wanted it to show people as a reference. Being afraid of heights (in a very bad way) as long as you look at the rocks in front of you and don’t focus on the edges or drop, it’s not horrible for people with a fear of heights. It’s def not a trail for the avg person though. I had leg cramps at the chains and had to stop 3x
Hi Mark, can we please see your GoPro footage? We are hoping to do this trail in a few days. We would say we have moderate fitness. Is this achievable with stops?
Hi Mark, i also like to see your gopro video on the part with chains. Please send me link. Thank you.
I’m not sure when Mark will visit this blog again, but you can find such videos on Youtube.
For example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raP2iHfR3WM
And here a father with 7-year old son :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAFI5_G8cIc
How many hour did it take you to reach the summit from when you started early morning after staying in the hut?
Hi. Looks like a very nice hike. We are thinking to trek this route, and finish in Slovakia side. Seems like a doable 12 hours hike, but not sure if there would be transportation back to our car if we left it at at Palenica Białczańska parking lot . Does someone know if there is transportation possible?
Hi, it could be difficult. You can take a train from Strbske Pleso to Tatranska Lomnica and then a bus to Łysa Polana but the last bus from Tatranska Lomnica departures at 18:24. Here you can see the timetable: http://strama.eu/rozkady-jazdy
Hi I am from Vancouver Island Canada I did this climb few years back. My dad was born and raised in Poland but him and my mom came to Canada in 1950. I wanted to visit the family, and I am all about climbing peaks so while there I hired a guide and away we went up Mt Rysy from the Poland side. 13 hours later we finished. Yes there was ice on the rocks and chains, but we managed. A beautiful trip to remember. I have to come back one day
Your journey of climbing is supper amazing am really like your effort and way of working . you have to achieve your dream in best way .