Before we go for a mountain trip, we should prepare. Tatra Mountains are beautiful and have wonderful views, but we should feel respect to them. They’re high mountains, where climate’s conditions are diffetent than in valley, and the weather often changes very quickly. Read our short guide about mountain hiking preparation!
If you go for a walk to the valley, mabye you don’t need a special preparation (unless it’s winter). But on the other hand, when you’re already in the valley, it can turns out, that your plan will change and you wish to go on a nearby peak, so it’s good to be prepared for different possibilities.
If you’re going to higher parts of Tatra Mountains – pond, alpine tundra or specific peak or pass – you have to be prepared. Your trip and memories will depend on that. Also your saftety will depends on that.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
There’s no sense to fool yourself – not everybody is a sportsman, so if you’re not really active in your everyday life, better do not try take a photo on Orla Perć (the most difficult trail in Tatras). Try to look at your condition and physical fitness objectively, think about how difficult trail you’re ready for.
In Tatra Mountains there are so many turistic trails, that people with different levels of physical fitness can find something. Choosing to demanding and too difficult trail may end with leg broken, dislocation, twist or other, more dangerous accident. Remember, that muscles and joints, that aren’t fit and accustomed organism may react for intensive physical effort with head rush, nausea, faint and muscles’ trauma.
2. Plan your trip well
Befeore choosing trip’s trail, you always should check its time and difficulty level. It’s good to read trails’ descriptions, to know possible difficulties, like chains, staples and ladders. If you can’t find estimated time of the trip, you should take a map and check it yourself. Remember, that time on the map is average and doesn’t include breaks.
During planning a trip, consider that in autumn, winter and spring, it’s getting dark faster in mountains and dark in a forest is nothing nice. It’s good to know, that sometimes going down from a peak can least longer than going up, if you choosed a different way. Sometimes, we go back through a valley, that is quite long (like Chochołowska Valley or Kościeliska Valley), and you should consider it as well.
3. Check weather conditions
You can do it on our website. It’s really important, especially in autumn, winter and spring, when there’s snow in Tatras and there’s avalanche danger. But it’s important in summer as well, because mountain weather likes to change unexpectedly and rapidly – even if there’s sun in the morning, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be a storm in the afternoon. Temperature is another thing that changes quickly, especially in high parts of Tatras.
Remember – you should check weather conditions in Tatras, not in Zakopane! There can be extremely differences between the weather in Zakopane and on the peak of Kasprowy Wierch. And, of course, if the forcast show rain, storm, snow or strong wind, you should resign from the trip.
Also heat can be dangerous in mountains, especially for elderly people and children – during an intensive physical effort the temperaturę of our body is rising, which can leads to faining and head rush (see the point 1).
4. Wake up early
The earlier you go, the better. It’s important in autumn, winter and early spring, when it’s getting dark fast in the mountains. Additionally, if you go out earlier, you’ll avoid crowds on the most popular trails. You’re on holiday, we know that, but it’s really worh to go out earlier: in the evening you’ll have time to visit Krupówki Street, go to thermal pools, make a bonfire or other entertainments.
5. Tell someone where you’re going
It’s really important thing and many people forget about it. Even if you’re going for a trip with someone, you should inform somebody else about your trip’s trail and estimated time of return. It can be someone from your family, a friend or even hotel or pension employee. In case of your absence untill specified hour, this person should know where to find you, try to contact you or inform adequate institutions.
6. Suitable shoes
Really, really, really important thing! Too many tourist wearing sandals can be seen on Kasprowy Wierch. And it’s not a joke, there’s a lot of people doing that. Comfortable, not sliding shoes with solid sole, the best if they cover your ankle and are waterproof, are a must. It’s the most important element of your dress, so if you have to choose, which one to buy: good shoes or waterproof jacket, take shoes (jacket is also important, but shoes are more). They don’t have to be expensive, it’s important, that they’re dedicated to mountain trips or trekking.
Remember, that if your shoes are new and you haven’t been using them yet, taking them for an all-day trip will surely ends with feet scrape. Shoes need to be used before, even at home.
7. Suitable dress
You don’t have to spend millions on special sport clothes, great jacket and branded socks. It’s important, your dress is comfortable (no jeans!). You should suit your dress to the time of the year and weather conditions in mountains (see the point 3). You should dress the way, so you can always take off some clothes or put on more.
In summer, it can be cold early in the morning, so you can put on long pants, and take shorts to your rucksack. You should always have something warm, e.g. fleece or blouse, and waterproof jacket.
In autumn and spring, even if there’s really nice weather, it’s good to take gloves and cap – they’re not heavy and they can be useful. You should also take a warm blouse or fleece and, of course, waterproof jacket. It’s nice to have a space blanket with you, that can warm you up in case of unexpected circumstances.
You can take socks for change and – attention! – do not wear those short socks, because they will fall for sure and can make your heels hurt.
Remember, that great dress and expensive shoes will never replace skills and physical fitness. We can often meet tourists, who think they have great equipment, so they can reach every peak. You have to have skills to reach difficult peaks and passes, you should know how to move using chains and staples, you should be in a good condition and not be afraid of chasms – even the best equipment will not replace it.
A few words about things, you should take for a mountain trip. Number one – torch. Even if your trip should end early, you should have a torch anyway. You never know what will happen, it’s better to be preapared.
Number two – plasters, bandage and scissors. In case of feet har mor other injuries.
Number three – map. But not the one you have in your mobile, because the battery can run down or you can lose it. Just a paper map – you can buy it in almost every shop in Podhale Region. It’s good to have a guide as well.
Number four – waterproof jacket and warm blouse. In case of unexpected weather changes (see the point 3).
If you go for a trip in autumn or spring, it’s good to have crampons with you – there may be some snow in some places and crampons will make the pass easier. In winter they’re a must!
You can take trekking poles with you – they will relieve your knees and may be helpful during going down.
9. Food and drinks
Unfortunately, taking an alcohol for a mountain trip is really common. If you’ve already get down from higher parts of mountains and you have nice walking path through the valley before you, it’s ok. But people, who drink beer on Orla Perć trail (the most difficult trail in whole Tatras) is really terrifying.
For a mountain trip you should take mineral water. Not sweet, fizzy drinks, but water, because it quench thirst very well. It’s a good idea to take a thermos with tea or coffee – especially in autumn, winter and spring. To eat, you should take some sandwiches, buns, apples, bananas and chocolate. These products will energize and fill us.
We hope, that this guide will help you to prepare for a mountain trip in Tatras. We wish you nice weather, wonderfulf view and pleasant trip!
Write in comment where in Tatras you’ve already been and where you’d like to go! And let us know, if this kind of articles are useful for you and what else would you like to read about.