This is something I’ll try to post possibly monthly, a look back at some of the mountains I visited and are, in some way, memorable to me. At this point, I have a list of almost 80 candidates but I am not sure how many will pass. These posts would be a mix of personal stories with photos and some ‘hard facts’. Maybe some interesting things, should I know about them.
I’ll begin this with ‘Lysá hora’, the highest peak of Czech ‘Moravskoslezské beskydy’ mountain range.
What makes this place memorable to me is the simple fact that it’s the highest mountain that can be said to be “well in reach”. More specifically, it’s (provided good enough weather) visible from where I live. It’s kind of ‘you’re getting near home’ beacon as it can be seen from the main Czech highway and railroad between Prague and Ostrava during the last ~50km. The direct air distance from my home is something like 33km.
The peak is easily identified by the transmitter tower slightly off the peak (guesstimate 50-100 meters), built in 1980 and being almost 80 meters high.
The name can be literally translated as ‘bald mountain’ as, during Wallachian colonization of central Europe, the peak was deforested to make space for pastures. Before that, the peak lacked any official name and the one used by locals meant simply ‘hill’ in the local dialect. That name is getting some popularity as it was used by a fundraiser for restoring a chalet that was destroyed by a fire in the 1970s. It was eventually rebuilt in late 2015 after more than 20 years of struggles not only with lack of money but also bureaucracy.
A piece of history
On the slopes of the peak are several boards stating facts and trivia about the mountain and its history, including a jet crash during a test flight in 1964 and a memorial of scouts executed for taking part in the anti-Nazi resistance. In 1911, the mountain was covered by a 491cm thick layer of snow, setting a Czech record. It was also often visited by Czech poet Petr Bezruč, after which one of the chalets was named, despite the fact he never visited it.
The mountain can be often seen shrouded in clouds, especially in autumn and winter. Clouds or mist was also the cause of the mentioned jet crash as the conditions disallowed the pilot to react or even eject fast enough. It is one of the places with the highest precipitation (sometimes reaching 1500+ mm/year) in the Czech Republic even though I think this is stopping being the case in the last few years.
The peak is mostly known as a place visited by hikers and to some degree cyclists. There is a single ski slope (plans for second were stopped for environment protection) on the peak but as the road that is used by the transmitter staff is off-limits for public vehicles, it means getting the gear up the hard way. The peak itself can be reached by five trails with several more branches on the way, meaning there are over 10 possible ways to reach the peak using marked trails plus the road.
It’s also a place involved in several extreme hiking or running races, one crossing all the main peaks of the mountain range totaling over 90km in length, a 24-hr race of running up and down as many times as possible and extreme relay race (uphill run, paragliding down, cycling circuit around the mountain’s slope and kayaking down the river in the valley).
Ascending the peak is not easy but despite that, it’s one of the most visited peaks around – mostly due to being easily reached both by car and public transport. The peak is extra busy on 1.4., 1.5. and 31.12./1.1. plus any weekend with good weather. The most used path from the railway station in Ostravice village is ~7,5km long with ~900m vertical climb (station elevation is 430m ASL, the peak is 1323m ASL).
I first reached the peak 13.8.1999 (aged 9) and, so far, the last ascension was 7.1.2017. Including these two, so far I reached the peak 13 times, of which 6 were in winter (first in 2011) and used most possible combinations of trails (leaving off only one that is hard to reach by public transport).
It is also the place where I have the lowest personal temperature when hiking at -22,2°C (as displayed by the meteorological station there) during the 2017 climb. My usual time required for reaching the peak from almost any start point is ~100 minutes, the exception being 2012 winter climb when the strong wind and thick layer (almost waist-deep) of fresh snow slowed me down to almost three hours.
Due to knowing this place well (and knowing I can go there almost any time), the number of photos I have from there is, in fact, quite low.
- Peak elevation: 1323m ASL (4340 ft)
- Location: 49,5458°N, 18,4475°E (east Czech Republic)
- Mountain range: Moravskoslezské beskydy (west outer Carpathians)
- Geology: slate, sandstone
- 48th highest peak in the Czech Republic
So, this is one of my memorable places. As mentioned in the beginning, I don’t know yet how often I’ll make this kind of post. Also, if there’s something you’d like to know about this place (or any other I mention), feel free to ask me.