Ascent of Sněžka on 2017-02-23

Climber: Denise Mclellan

Others in Party:Richard Mclellan -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Date:Thursday, February 23, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
    Location:Czech Republic/Poland
    Elevation:5259 ft / 1602 m

Ascent Trip Report

We stayed at the hostel- like and pleasant Hotel Hela , Vellka Upa, Pec Pod Snezka, Czech Republic, which is at the bottom of the Vellka Upa ski lifts. Bad weather meant the upper summit cable car was closed. ( £25 day ski pass fee )

We skin up from the hotel at 700 m on soft heavy snow in heavy rain. It's moderately steep but you reach Portasky , 1060m ( to the north) quite fast. Here we join a snowy ridge track within a conifer forest which ascends at a gentle angle northwest. There are yellow paint marks and later 5m high wooden poles all the way to the summit from here, so route finding is not a problem despite poor visibility, at times less than 10 m . There are several restaurants with accommodation en route eg Ruzohorky 1251m but we did not stop. We pass the closed lift station (1340m) ( Ruzova hora lanovka) which would make for an easy ascent in good weather. Above this the pines struggle to grow taller than shrubs so it is less sheltered from the 50 mph winds and snow/ hail. We follow an undulating path. The last 500m ( distance) is icy but the slope is not too steep. The wind on the icy summit plateau is so strong that it's difficult to move around but we do find a sheltered spot behind a meteorology station to take a photo. As well as the lift station and meteorology building there's a church, post office, pillar and restaurant ( closed) all covered in snow and ice. We have no views in the low cloud but, surprisingly , we meet a few other hardy locals who have ventured out from nearby chalets. As we descend , we notice an open door in the lift station and find a tiny cafe within serving hot tea and beer and snacks. We drip as we sup. There's a rubber stamp of the summit and ink pad. Descending the icy snow -covered steps in high wind is hard work, but after about a km we put our skis back on and remove the skins. Amazingly , the rain seems to have stopped though there remains almost zero visibility and we are soon in the shelter of the trees. The ski down from Portasky is a relief though the snow is very heavy and soft and we have the slopes to ourselves. 900 m ascent and 7 km each way of distance travelled.

It would be easy to walk up this mountain in the summer, as there is a myriad of walking tracks from both the Czech and Polish sides. 1:25 k maps can easily be purchased from local shops and the routes are well signposted with plenty of wooden chalets selling refreshments. Even the ski route we did could be walked in snow as the tracks were mainly firm from Portasky, though I imagine this is weather dependent - and you could get a lift part way up. Or you can , as I said , get the lift all the way to the top.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3018 ft / 919 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3018 ft / 919 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Skis, Ski Poles
    Weather:Raining, Cold, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Cloud base c 1000m , rain continuous on ascent, turning to snow at 1300m with some hail.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3018 ft / 919 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 7 km
    Route:south ridge ( Czech side)
    Start Trailhead:700m  2241 ft / 683 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3018 ft / 919 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 7 km
    End Trailhead:1693m  2241 ft / 683 m

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