My Experience Climbing Świnica (2301 m) in the Polish Tatra Mountains

Updated on September 12, 2017
Virginia Matteo profile image

Viriginia is an experienced hiker. She goes to the Tatra Mountains in Poland every summer.

The Polish word “Świnica” comes from a pig. And Świnica fully deserves it – it’s a bulky, fat mountain, towering over the neighbours.

Świnica is the highest mountain, which lies entirely on the Polish side. The path is suitable for people with previous scrambling experience, hiking boots, and a head for heights.

Trail One:

  • Kuźnice – Hala Gąsienicowa 1 h 55 m
  • Hala Gąsienicowa – Przełęcz Świnicka 1 h 45 m
  • Przełęcz Świnicka – Świnica 50 m

Trail Two:

  • Kuźnice – Kasprowy Wierch 3 h
  • Kasprowy Wierch – Świnicka Przełęcz 50 m
  • Świnicka Przełęcz – Świnica 50 m

The First Two Attempts

Our first two attempts were abortive. We chose the first trail, through Hala Gąsienicowa.

Thunderstorms broke during both attempts, even before we reached Przełęcz Świnicka (the Świnica pass). Thunderbolts raged all around us, striking the nearby mountains. We had to turn back in disgrace.

On the third day, having read a disheartening weather forecast, we decided not to go. Lo and behold, not a drop of water fell from the skies that day! We drank lots of hot chocolate and vodka to console ourselves – the Polish way.

Kuźnice – Kasprowy Wierch

Our third attempt fell on the last day of our holiday. We’d rather die than return without having reached Świnica. Fortunately, dying wasn’t on the agenda.

The day was cloudy but weather forecasts didn’t predict Armageddon.

This time, sick of Hala Gąsienicowa, we went through a mountain called Kasprowy Wierch. You can also reach it by ski lift.

The trail to Kasprowy Wierch is easy but tiring. Officially, it takes 3 hours, but we managed it in 2. We didn’t rest much at the summit, anxious to continue our walk in case the weather was to collapse.

Kasprowy Wierch – Przełęcz Świnicka

The bit to the Świnica pass is pleasant and gentle. It leads over a wide and convenient mountain ridge without any technical difficulties. As the clouds were low and thick, we couldn’t enjoy any views.

Świnicka Przełęcz – Świnica

Finally, we got to the Świnica pass. It was still cloudy but dry so far. We decided to give it a shot. It was, after all, our last chance that summer.

At first, the trail leads over steep but technically easy rocky stairs.

Shortly afterwards, we came across the first chain. Hiking aids were to accompany us most of the way to the top. The thick clouds prevented us from admiring the views but also concealed the precipices below.

We reached the most dangerous part of the trail – Żleb Blatona. The trail here leads over a couloir, particularly dangerous during the winter. But even in summertime, it could be lethal. The rocks are slightly bent towards the precipice and wet. The chains in this place are long and unwieldy.

We carefully got across the couloir and continued our hike to the summit.

There was another difficult moment, right before the summit, where we had to do a bit of acrobatics. But we managed it and soon reached the top.

The Summit

People say that Świnica offers one of the best panoramas of the Tatra Mountains. We couldn’t confirm it – the clouds were still thick and impermeable.

But it didn’t matter that much – reaching the summit after two abortive attempts was euphoric. We compensated the lack of views by a picture of a stray bird. We ate something but didn’t dawdle too much for fear of a sudden break in the weather.

Dolina Pieciu Stawow. That's what we would have seen from the top of Swinica.
Dolina Pieciu Stawow. That's what we would have seen from the top of Swinica.

Descending

Going down was easier, maybe because we were still drunk with euphoria. Even Żleb Blatona seemed uncomplicated.

Fortunately, it never rained that day. We got back to Kuźnice via Hala Gąsienicowa.

Practical Tips if You Want to Climb Świnica

  • Świnica is an intermediate trial. Don’t choose it as your first trail in the Tatra Mountains. It may be good preparation for more difficult trails, such as Rysy.
  • Wear appropriate hiking boots with an anti-skidding sole. Seriously, it’s a difficult terrain for sneakers or – God forbid – sandals.
  • Pay extra attention on Żleb Blatona. People sensitive to heights may find this bit particularly challenging.
  • Pack the usual hiking essentials: lots of water, food, sweatshirts, and waterproof coats.

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