Despite the fact that Sněžka – the highest peak of Czech Republic that could be translated as snowy mountain – is today easily accessible via a newly built gondola, there is a certain exclusivity in climbing it at night and welcoming the rising sun and the new day from the top of this mountain.
What to take with you on Sněžka?
Well, if you just got tempted to climb it at night, a flash light will become handy as the local forests don’t let any light in. Once you climb over them though, you will be rewarded with an incredible view of the night sky!
It is not a difficult climb but it’s recommendable to wear comfortable shoes. In winter, when the trails are frozen, crampons or at least poles will come handy. And if you plan a breakfast on top, you will surely appreciate hot tea, possibly some home-made slivovice (popular Czech alcohol made of plums). No matter the time of the year, the temperatures at Sněžka before sunrise are always deadly cold!
So let’s get going!
Ideal starting point would be one of the shelters in Obří důl valley. (Don’t get me wrong, they are fully equipped hotels and often serve delicious meals in their restaurants!) From here it’s only around two hours uphill walk till you are able to look into the Polish side. This trail is unfortunately closed over the winter time. The other option is climbing up towards a mountain called Růžová hora first, this trail starts just above the lower station of the gondola. If you’re starting in Pec pod Sněžkou, it should take you from 3 to 4 hours.
The climb – Růžová hora route
If you are still partly dreaming, then you will surely wake up soon in this cold mountain air. However, you will probably start taking off your warm clothes layers, as soon, as the trail becomes steeper. At first, you will climb surrounded by dark thick forest (that’s why a full moon shine would not be enough for you to see where you’re stepping). Once you get to the top of Růžová hora, teh forest suddenly opens and shows the charm of the night sky, with the Orion warrior most visible in winter especially, and if you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of Scorpio, with its venomous sting curled behind the southern horizon.
Here you can finally catch a breath (unless you are running late to see the first sun rays from Sněžka). This is probably the prettiest part of the hike. You are walking on the top of Růžová hora mountain at dawning hours and the eastern sky turns from black to dark blue, then lightens and finally ads some playful colors of purple and orange. Surrounded by tiny coniferous trees that are covered with snow, this place looks like in fairy tale.
Last part is a 30-minute climb in the very tip of Sněžka and soon enough you are standing on the top of the highest mountain of Czech Republic.
The top of Czech Republic
Here you can literary hold hands with the Polish neighbours who also came to see the magical sunrise. And then you can curl up somewhere to hide from cold and icy wind and wait until the orange Sun fainally shows its beauty and climbs over the horizon. Is is a spectacular view:
Visiting the neighbours
There are several ways to go down from Sněžka, some of them lead to Poland. But if you have time, they’re definitely worth to hike. Especially if you decide to explore two glacier lakes simply named Wielki Staw (big lake) and Mały Staw (small lake). You might be able to spot Wielki Staw from the top of Sněžka.
One last tip
In case you are not taking any transportation tool to take you back into the valley fast (snowboard, skis, paraglide, teleportation device … 🙂 then go back via Růžová hora. Local cottages, often have their own farms and offer delicious traditional Czech meals!