Tatra mountain guide, Tomasz Świst, Tatra highest peaks, Gerlach


Gerlach peak (SVK: Gerlachovský štít, Gerlachovka, GER: Gerlsdorfer Spitze, Gerlach, HUN: Gerlachfalvi-csúcs) – 2655 m asl
The highest peak of Tatras and the whole, 1500 km long Carpathian range, located in the Slovak side of the mountains, in their lateral, southern ridge.
Most favorable ascent route:
Two UIAA I, non-marked and partly insured with steel chains and ladders: from Velicka valley via so-called "Velicka Proba" and from Batizovska valley via "Batizovska Proba".
Gerlach massif rises above Bielovodska, Batizovska and Velicka valleys reaching Polsky Hreben pass in the North and Batizovske sedlo pass in the north-west along the main ridge, sending two, massive arms to the South as well, encompassing deeply carved Gerlachovsky Kotol basin which creates the characteristic look of the mountain while viewed from the South. One can distinguish two man summits in Gerlach massif, these are: Zadny Gerlachovsky Stit(2638 asl) and the highest elevated one, the main one - Gerlachovsky Stit(2655). The main peak is located in big, lateral ridge that branches off the main Tatra ridge line towards south-east in neighbouring Zadny Gerlachovsky Stit. Zadny Gerlach peak is separated from the rest of Gerlach massif by deep Tetmajerovo sedlo pass. Moreover, there are numerous secondary peaks and passes with their own names located in Gerlach massif ridges.
For centuries, that hasn't been proved that it is Gerlach to be reagrded as the highest Tatra mountain peak. It was believed before that first Krivan and then Lomnica or Ladovy is the one. Though Ludwik Greiner's measurements from 1837-38 fully revealed Gerlach's elevation supremacy, till around 1865 people still commonly treated Lomnica peak as the highest elevated Tatra mountain.
The first climber known to have reached the summit of Gerlach is the latter, famous guide - Johann Still who accomplished that first, historical ascent altogether with four companions, chamois hunters in 1834. It is very much probable that two notable, Polish botanists: Zygmunt Bosniacki and priest Wojciech Grzegorek climbed Gerlach peak in 1855.
Right after gaining fame of the highest peak in the end of 19th century, Gerlach -"the King of Tatras" became a popular goal of numerous mountain expeditions undertaken both from South and North of Tatras. Within years Gerlach summit routes has been insured with some artifical facilites like chains, buckles and steel ladders. Many climbing routes of high technical difficulties levels has been led across Gerlach cliffs by German, Polish, Hungarian and Slovak pioneer climbers. In winter Gerlach summit was reached first by Janusz Chmielowski, Karoly Jordan with guides: Klemens "Klimek" Bachleda, Johann Franz senior and Paul Spitzkopf senior on 15th January 1905.
The present name of the peak comes straight from Spis village of Gerlachov.
There are some facts in the history of the name of that mountain worth mentioning, showing how important and symbolic role it has played in all national culutres around Tatras. In 1896 Hungarian authorities intended to rename Gerlach to Franz-Joseph peak(Franz Josef-Spitze, Ferencz Jozsef-csucs) to honor the Austro-Hungarian emperor, in 1918, straight after regaining idependence Poles had a wish to call it "Szczyt Polski"(the peak of Poland), in the same year, the same story with Czechs and Slovaks who proposed the idea of naming the mountain: "Stit Legionarov"(The peak of Legionnaries) and finally in 1949 Slovaks renamed Gerlach to "Stalinov Stit"(The peak of Stalin). Luckily all names mentioned above haven't rooted strongly enough and has never been adopted to common use.
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