This is what it’s like to climb a knife-edge ridge

In the High Tatras of Slovakia, two climbers battle extreme winter conditions. With Vine videos!
Michal Sabovčík and Adam Kadlečík climbing to the top of the Vidlový Ridge.
Michal Sabovčík and Adam Kadlečík on the top © Jakob Schweighofer/2014 adidas AG
By Rick Rycroft

It's fair to say the Tatras mountains are not the most famous in the world. But they have an illustrious history and can still pack a punch for ambitious alpinists.

Known as the 'smallest high mountain range in Europe' – no peak rises over 3,000m – the entire range extends for only 50km but they offer serious climbing. To get a true feeling of what it's like to be there, check out these six Vine videos, and watch the full clip at the end of the story.

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Amazing landscapes of the Tatras Mountains

One of the legends of the area is Wieslaw Stanislaw. In the early part of the 19th century, between 1929 and 1933, he notched up over 100 first ascents, many of them in winter.

He's the inpsiration for many local climbers, including Adam Kadlečík and Michal "Mišo" Sabovčík. In 2013 the pair made an attempt to traverse the entire range, following his footsteps but were not successful.

Michal Sabovčík enjoying the view on the peak of the Lomnický štít.
Michal Sabovčík enjoying the view © Timeline Production/2014 adidas AG

That mission lasted 15 days through extreme cold and bad weather – proving to be be one of the most difficult challenges of the young climbers' lives. The non-stop push meant there was no packing light – the pair set off with 25kg packs on their backs, including camping supplies, food, and climbing gear.

Getting ready

But what you're seeing here in these clips and images are shots taken more recently, with just the guys doing what they love best – climbing great routes in the Tatras.

Steep climbing in the Tatras

The area offers alpine climbing of various difficulties but it is not the technical difficult of the climbs that matter – it's the massive exposure of the ridge. The atmosphere is impressive.

Winter crack climbing

 

In the Tatras, there is another challenge and that's the cold. The mountain range sits at the southern edge of the plains of Poland, and cold air coming from the north has a particularly biting chill. After their attempt in 2013, the guys reported winds of up to 240kph. “The cold was creeping slowly deeper inside of us. In the morning, we couldn't feel our feet and we didn't know if they would ever defrost again. Hours later the blood would return to our limbs.”

 

Bad weather in the mountains

Fortunately, on the more recent trip, the guys did not experience such epic conditions – just great climbing and epic views.

Check out the clip below to enjoy the feeling of what it's like to climb in the High Tatras on an exposed ridge.

Watch the video below

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