Tatras: Kosceiliska horseshoe

With low winds and amazing sunshine forecast I decided a traverse of the Tatras was in order. I’d originally planned to do this route in reverse but having not worked out the bus times to get to Kiry I opted to walk from Kuznice which is simpler and worry about how to get back on the bus later.

I’ve called this route the Koscieliska horsehorse but its a bit of a misnomer as while it is a horseshoe shape, the route traverses the 2000m mountains along the main ridge from the centre of the national park to descend into the Koscieliska valley. Nevertheless its a great route, with outstanding views.

To Dolina Koscieliska 16.6km

Having missed a bus I actually walked from Zakopane to Kuznice, but I don’t recommend this as its a dull uphill walk on the road, and I can tell you from experience you will only get passed by the next bus on the way there.

Once at Koscieliska I took the blue route which I’d previously used to reach the Schroniko hut. Having used this route only a few days earlier I knew it and so reached the hut in less than an hour.

From here I continued on the blue route to head up to the pass where I took a quick detour to the very popular summit of Giewont with its iron cross. As it was before 8.30am I was alone which was fantastic as this hill top is renowned for being busy.

From here I headed back to the pass before following the yellow route uphill to Kopa Kondracka at 2005m and onto the ridge top border between Poland and Slovakia.

It was icy and snowy across the summit and pretty cold but the sunshine made it worthwhile – amazing views into the valley on the other side of the ridge.

From Kopa Kondracka I head West across the ridge crossing Malolczniak (2096m) and Krzesanica (2122m) before reaching the end of the path at Ciemniak (2096m). Here the ridge continues but at a knife edge rocky arête.

From Ciemniak I descended on the red path all the way down the broad grass ridge to the little rocky outcrop of Peic, before continuing down into the woodland and the Koscieliska valley. While long its a relatively easy descent so I reached the valley bottom in good time to walk out along the track to Kiry for 2pm.

The Koscieliska valley is worth a visit in its own right as it as a myriad of old caves worth exploring.

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