In January 2023, we travelled to Poland to visit our families and go skiing, but Mother Nature had other plans. It turned out to be one of the warmest Christmases ever, with all the snow melted and the feeling of spring in the air, even though it was supposed to be the middle of winter!
However, determined to experience at least a little taste of winter, we set our sights on Babia Góra, the highest mountain in the region, also known as the witches’ mountain and reputedly the windiest peak in Poland (although to be fair, almost every summit we’ve climbed has been pretty windy). Babia Góra straddles the border between Poland and Slovakia, and we decided to take a less popular route, starting our adventure in Slovakia from Slana Voda.
To our surprise, the trail was challenging from the very beginning, with deep ruts made by tractors used for removing trees from the forest, and the melted snow had turned the trail into a muddy mess. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but as we gained altitude, the trail improved, although frozen snow became more and more prominent. Our first stop was the top of Mała Babia Gora (Small Babia Gora), which usually offers stunning views of Babia Góra, but this time, everything around us was covered in fog, shrouding the landscape in mystery.
As we got closer to the summit, the temperature dropped below zero, and the wind grew stronger, lashing our faces with its sharp gusts. The final section of the hike took us across a long path of large, rocky slabs. At the summit, we encountered other intrepid adventurers who had also braved the challenging conditions to burn off the Christmas calories.
With the weather being particularly wild, we didn’t linger long at the summit. We made our way down towards the Slovakian border, navigating a long descent and some plateau sections before reaching a cosy Chata Slana Voda. There, we indulged in some hearty food, including Bryndzové halušky and kofola, the legendary soft drink of Slovakia, to replenish our energy.