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.