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Europe, Slovakia, High Tatras, Ridge Traverse

High Tatras, Ridge Traverse. In January, Vlado Plulik made a solo traverse of the main ridge of the High Tatras in Slovakia. He had tried to climb the ridge in winter for the first time in 1992. His idea was to climb this problem non-stop very quickly with minimal gear. Many attempts with partners left him more and more experienced. The final problem was weather. Finally, in January, a stable weather system arrived in the High Tatras. Plulik started the climb on Thursday, January 16 at 2:30 p.m., alone, without support, from the Kopske Col (the starting point for the main ridge for an east-to-west traverse. He reached the first crux of the main ridge Ostry Peak at 1 a.m., climbing it in climbing shoes. By dusk, he had climbed the very dangerous ridge of Batizovsky Peak and reached Popradsky Ladovy Peak in the middle of the main ridge. The batteries to his headlamp were dead and he had to climb the next crux, Zlobiv and Rumanov peaks, by the slight light of the moon. By midnight, he was tired and waited for dawn in the Rumanove Col. The next morning, he decided to omit the difficult Ganek. His progress was very good and he quickly climbed through Vysok and Rysy to the next rock crux, Zabi kon (Frogg’s Horse), climbing it in light shoes. By dusk, he had overcome the final problem, the Mengusovsky Peaks, and reached Cubrina. He was unfamiliar with the last part of the main ridge from Cubrina to Laliove Col and thought it would be easy. But after many hours of hard climbing, his hands were bloody. By midnight, at the very end of the main ridge, close to Svinica, he had to wait until dawn because of exhaustion and disorientation. Finally, on Sunday, he reached Laliove Col in one hour’s time.

The main ridge of the High Tatras is 26 kilometers long with much hard climbing, an altitude difference of about 7000 meters and comprising 90 main peaks. Plulik’s solo achievement was accomplished in only 50 hours of actual climbing. It is without a doubt one of the best achievements in the history of High Tatras mountaineering.

Vlado Linek, Jamesak