A winter hiking with snowshoes in Krkonoše Mountains to the highest mountain of Czechia.
Finally, snow came to the Krkonoše Mountains, and the season is in full swing. My friend Šárka is putting together a list of winter hikes for the international mountain leader certification. Snowshoes are a mandatory equipment – those weird flat things on shoes that neither speed you up in uphill but definitely slow you down in downhill. Since skiing is forbidden for me at the moment, I offer to be a client. It won't be easy for those accompanying me. My favorite role is a confused patient and a complaining client...
As a part of confusing interventions in the trip itinerary, I alter the plans several times along the way to the mountains. In Pec pod Sněžkou, there is a ski touring festival, so we definitely won't be able to park there. Besides, nobody can see me on snowshoes…right?
On the way, we pick up two more "patients" so that we don't fear the dominance of ski mountaineers. Aleš and Sabča join us in Maršov, and we finally park in Pec according to the original plan.
The morning frost hits our faces as we arrive to the awakening resort. There's already plenty of activity below the slopes. As we chat together, we walk all the way to the last slope, where prehistoric techno drives us away, each bar playing a different song. We should have turned along the Zelený potok. Well, let's backtrack that short distance. At least we had some “culture”.
At the end of the asphalt road, we pass a group of ski mountaineering course participants. I swallow my envy. We put on our snowshoes. With the LIDLultra system, I undoubtedly have the fastest changing.
All four of us walk along the stream, trying not to damage the ski track that we can't fit into. Duck-walking, we ascend along the Zelený potok river and climb snowy slopes up to Richtrovy Boudy hut. This police facility recently offered accommodation and food similar to other Krkonoše chalets. The next refreshment option is at Výrovka hut, one of the highest huts in the area, owned by the Czech Tourist Club. There's an artificial icefall behind the hut, and it's totally crowded inside. Skis are piled up at the entrance with no space left. Snowshoes fit into a corner. The queue for soup extends to the stairs. We decide to skip that neverending, but socializing line.
Sabča and Aleš continue by a shorter route, so we say goodbye and head towards Luční Hora mountain. We climb along the trail with typical wooden sticks marking. Wind is pushing clouds toward us. For a while, we can't see more than a few frozen wooden poles. Skiers and ski mountaineers descend slowly through icy snow against us. Perfect surface for us. Boots don't sink, and snowshoes stay on the backpack for the rest of the trip.
The wind strengthens, and it blows the clouds somewhere down to the valley. The sun slowly sets, and shadows lengthen. We pass Luční Bouda hut, and in front of us appears our highest peak, Sněžka (1602 m). We walk over the Úpské Rašeliniště with the wind at our backs. As we approach the Obří sedlo (Giant Saddle), we see how many tourists are still struggling up and down. The wind is very strong, but it blows in the right direction. It's an easy climb upward. As we climb, we compete with the sun setting into the clouds. I manage to take a few romantic photos from the summit, and the day is over. At least the part when the sun is shining. Our day is not over yet. We manage to make one messy selfie, and the real fun begins – the descent towards Růžohorky station.
The wind literally knocks us down to our knees. We have to crawl a bit to avoid flying out, down to the valley. In line with those descending, and even a few still ascending, we handle along the swaying railing chain. Those in front of us have already knocked off the frost from the chain.
Soon we enter the forest, and it calms down. Spruces hum in the wind, and we're doing well. Under the Růžohorky cable car, skitouring race leaders appear. Ignoring the possibility of refreshment, they remove the climbing skins off their skis and leave quickly into the darkness along the wide path. We go significantly slower, but steadily. We reach the city by following the green trail, and there's just a short stretch on the road to the parking.
The trip is over, and it was worth it. In the final questionnaire, Šárka receives eleven out of ten points from me, and we plan a nice dinner to treat ourselves.
Total distance: 21.6 km
Elevation gain: 1279 m
Total tour time: 8 hours