Split&Unite went east - Slovakian Tatras
Thursday, March 29, 2012 6:19:46 PM
Slovakia is a land with beautiful mountains. Slovakia, every time I go there it has something to surprise me with. Even though we crossed the western border of the country, I got the sensation of being in socalled "Eastern european country". Again. Hard to explain, easy to see. Old abandoned Praga V3S trucks parked on the fields by the roads. Little villages, with all the same houses and rooftops with chimneys producing heavy smoke.
First impresion, Nováky, Slovakia. Beautiful valley with heavy industry, chimneys, rail roads, and power lines averywhere. Here we entered the motorway. We were going fast towards the mountains, going fast thanks to motorway which this time was gratis.
It was dark already as we approached the foot of the mountains, we were heading uphill, suddenly we found ourselves passing through the heavy metal industry plant. Tons and tons of aluminum were constantly loaded into big kettles. I asked Tom to slow down and captured this unbelievable scenery.
Shortly after we seen the unseen we arrived to our destination. Trangoška hut, Mountain resort Chopok - Juh, that´s where Freeride Camp was just about to begin. There´s no better way how to start the weekend than in wooden sherpa bar.
Drinking beer with all the fellows, like back in the "Czechoslovakia" days. The sky at night was full of stars, promising. As previously discussed split&unite decided to go against the stream, denied bed in hotel, hopped in a Dacia car and got some decent sleep.
Next day we woke up into a sunny morning. All the crew got ready, and after quick presentation and avalanche beacon check we were all good to go up.
As the Northern side of the Chopok mountain resort advanced a lot in past few years, the southern side remains still since it was built, with all the Tatrapoma plate lifts, notices, etc. Snowboarder prepare yourself to struggle until you reach the top. As we did so. Chopok top.
Band of freestyle freeride freemind ... snowboarders guided by a skier. I am pretty sure it was an unique experience for Jano from Ortovox.
After few runs and quick introduction into avalanche safety it was time to begin with education and practice. Due to nice weather and not so good snow conditions we decided to convert freeride camp into avalanche course and we were hungry for all the important information and necesery practice about backcountry avalanche safety. Petr and Tomas captured while digging a pit for a snowpack stability test.
"Snowboarders, Now I will ask for your attention", said Jano. That´s how it´s done, listen, look and repete.
Skalka mountain. It constantly calls my attention. This mountain served as a practise yard for a reading of mountain terrain excercise.
We were heading down to Kosodřevina hut for lunch. I was stoked because I knew from past that we gonna fill up our stomach well for good price and apart from that I was gonna meet my old buddy Artur.
Some of the crew ate too much, Mike time to rest a sweet siesta.
On top of the Chopok ridge again. Windy and cold. We practised the snow-stability test on course. The snowpack was stable but icy, so we decided not to ride the meteorogical choote to the other side of the mountain.
Rather we practised the companion rescue with avalanche beacons until the dusk.
Split&Unite against the stream again. I left the party little bit earlier because I had to dig a snowpit and built a camp to stay overnight. It was almost dark when I finished work. I ate a soup and headed down under the light of my headlamp. Down in the base camp we witnessed few presentations, triggered and airbag and shortly before midnight I was on my way back up to the camp. The snowpack got frozen and I was struggling breaking my way up without crampons and searching for tent with little light given by my headlamp. Found it! Exhausted got into a sleeping bag and watched the stars above the white peaks of Tatras.
The night was cold but It was all worth it! That´s what I realized after watching the sunrise from my tent, having a breakfast up there under the sun while all the resort was slowly about to begin a new day.
I rode down to Kosodřevina hut where I met the crew and left all the heavy equipment. Shortly after we were skinning up towards the ridge, close to where I slept the night before.
Spring arrived to mountains, sun was shining, birds were singing and guys were chilling.
When you decide to ride some more or less serious freerides, it´s important to dedicate your time to education in avalanche safety. And that´s why were there, boys&girls on splitboards and snowshoes.
Skinning up the last part, the benefits of splitboard were more than obvious.
Switch your avalanche beacon from transmit to receive, and slowly walk forward, thats how we tested the signal range of our devices and lot more.
I walked towards the edge and watched the Tatras mountain range, then strapped in and took a rad spring slash splash ride down to the bottom until where the snow turned into a mud and streams of watter, until the end.