Krkonose winter crossing a dream or reality? Even it´s not so obvious for foreigners, the Czech Republic has a quite abundant winter. Krkonoše mountains are offering eldorado for cross-country skiers, ski-touring lovers, and snowshoeing community. Despite it´s not very common in Czechia it´s possible to enjoy a winter expedition with the pulk here. For some of You will be a surprise how adventurous this trip can be.
Do You like the map above with the waypoints, huts as well as the Fimmvorduhals trail itself? Download the GPS file to Your device!!!
Krkonose winter crossing tips
During Krkonose winter crossing You will have to walk or ski at least 40-50 kilometers with around 1700 elevation meters. Of course, this figure is depending on detours and variants. It´s possible to do it in one day if the conditions are perfect! Normally it´s done in 2 days also for a fun with bouncing or overnighting in freezing nature. There are loads of options for sleeping in mountain staffed huts, or also in unstaffed shelters. For adventure seekers, there is always a choice (even it´s illegal) for tenting or digging yourself into the snow.
When to do a winter expedition with the pulk?
Even the Czech Republic is not really a nordic county, but… The relatively high mountain range Krkonoše is offering plenty of snow for winter self-realization. 20 years ago there was an abundant amount of snow and the country was fighting every year to assure traffic. Nowadays we don´t receive so much snowfall, but still enough to satisfy nordic needs.
Asking for the best time for an expedition with the pulk? To achieve Krkonose winter crossing is definitely from the middle of January until the end of March. The weather always gets better at the end of February and in March. To be sure also about the snow conditions I recommend to come between February and March. Between those months expect from 100cm to 200cm of snow in some valleys and at least 50cm on ridges.
Everyone who comes for a winter expedition with the pulk or with a backpack on skis should inform about the avalanche situation. Despite it´s not allowed to ski or walk outside of official paths. Many are doing it and free riding is quite popular here. There are few areas in Krkonose where are dangerous avalanche areas to be aware of. The best source of information about avalanche danger is on the official website of Mountain rescue service.
Always make sure You will check the weather forecast before setting off for Krkonose winter crossing. Mountains are not large and for those who know the region is relatively simple to run from the dangerous situation if necessary. Nevertheless, the situation can change rapidly and navigation in the thick mist of heavy snowfall can be tricky.
What to pack for Krkonose winter crossing
Like for every multi-day expedition with the pulk or without, You will need plenty of material. If You don´t fix a sleeping place in one of the staffed mountain huts. See the list in the accommodation section. Definitely a good sleeping bag is a must. For those who choose to sleep outside get ready that temperatures can drop below -20°C. Propper inflatable or thick mattress is essential.
Despite there are plenty of options to get food even on the ridge in buffets or restaurants. Those who are coming for a real winter expedition with pulk is advisable to bring food for two days. The main route of Krkonose winter crossing is mostly leading over the ridge and mountains. It´s sometimes hard to find rivers or streams to replenish freshwater. All water in Krkonose is perfectly safe, but in wither can be often frozen. Bring the stove (the best petrol stove) to melt snow to have enough drinking water.
Maps or GPS for navigation and a solid plan is a must for the expedition. Most of the mountains have luckily the mobile phone coverage so it´s a relatively safe place for a winter expedition. For a good inspiration, I´ve prepared a GPS file with the best route and points of interest like mountain huts or shelters. This GPS file can be downloaded HERE and is compatible with the most GPS devices.
Starting points and how to get there?
Generally, there are two options. Either to go from East to West or vice-versa. There is no preference and both options boast with a similar level of attractiveness. The problem of the Krkonoše winter crossing is the complication after the trip. It´s not only difficult to get from the endpoint back for Your car but also time-consuming. Normally from Malá Úpa to Harrachov, it´s standard to change around 5 public buses and 4 hours of time!!! Search bus connection on local bus connection site: HERE. Let´s see the pros and cons of different starting points.
This place is a very popular place for winter sports. There are regular train connections or Bus connections even from bigger Czech cities. It´sn a great place to get accommodation and buy supplies before the winter expedition. If You decide to start Krkonose winter crossing trip here it´s a good choice.
- Bus: From the bus station, the starting point is quite close. I count about 500 meters to the cross-country skiing track which is a great point for starting. Search bus connection on local bus connection site: HERE
- Train: If You come by train to Harrachov train station, the best starting point is to cross the border to Poland. Directly above the train station is a frontier for hikers to Poland without any controls. Jump on the cross-country skiing track and follow to Jakuszyce, where Krkonoše is beginning.
- Car: It´s definitely the most comfortable way to come to Harrachov. There are plenty of parking places in the town. The nearest parking lot is just next to the bus station. The starting point is also just 500 meters away.
Beautiful high-elevation mountain village. It´s just at the Polish border and generally not so crowded like other Krkonoše´s hot spots. The approach is pretty complicated to get here. The big positive is that the entire village is a starting point and You can fasten Your skis and stat!
- Bus: There are regular buses from Trutnov or Svoboda nad Úpou. Both cities are a bit harder to reach from other cities as those places are the end of the world. Search bus connection on local bus connection site: HERE
- Train: There is no train around here so this option is irrelevant.
- Car: The best option to get to Malá Úpa. But just in case You have a chance to return back for it.
Where to sleep during the Krkonose winter crossing
There is a variety of choices on how to spend a night in the mountains during the winter crossing of Krkonose. If You choose to make the expedition with the pulk it’s pretty big volume You can carry. In this case, it can be big fun to stay outside. Let´s review all possible options.
There is a variety of mountain huts almost on the ridge or just a few hundreds of meters off the trail. Those huts offer overnight stay and are very convenient to place to spend a night in warmth. All Mountain huts are also running a restaurant inside. Check the map above or download our GPS file HERE to get all location information and contacts. Here I´m listing huts from east to west.
- Slezský dům
- Luční Bouda
- Schronisko Samotnia
- Martinova Bouda
- Labská Bouda
- Vosecká Bouda
Staying outside on Winter Krkonose crossing
Officially You are in National park and it´s illegal to tent anywhere outside official campings. Unfortunately the only official camping in the town Špindlerův Mlýn. I´ve been camping in Krkonoše plenty of times without any significant issues. Choose a private and hidden place in the woods, for instance. Get further away from the main trail and I´m sure nobody will bother You. Just leave the place tidy. Tenting is not only a great place to stay outdoors, but will also protect You from strong winds. If Your tent needs proper pitching to get a snow pegs as the wind can blow strongly.
- Snow dig/cave:
The purpose of the snow dig is to prevent the chilly wind to steal Your heat. As I´ve already mentioned it´s likely that the temperature will drop over -10 °C. Therefore it´s advisable to find proper shelter. However, building a proper snow cave is time and energy-consuming activity. Nevertheless, when done properly it´s way more comfortable than a tent and can save lives!
- Emergency shelters:
Third and probably the most interesting option is Emergency Shelters. They are not so known for hikers and people doing winter crossing of Krkonose. In other words, there are a couple of them in the mountains. But for our usage, I will list only three usable for our needs. All of them have two levels, one for sleeping second for cooking. The capacity is up to 6 people. There is a basic rule who comes first sleeps first. Check the map above to see the location.
- Alfrédka Emergency shelter
- U Maštale Emergency Shelter
- Pod Smielczem Emergency shelter
- Alfrédka Emergency shelter
Krkonoše winter crossing step by step
Distance: 40-50 km depending on the trail
Ascend: 1700 m+
Hiking time: 12-15 h
Malá úpa to Sněžka
I personally chose Malá Úpa as a starting point as I suppose Harrachov is a much better place to escape after the trip. It was really a strenuous ascent on the skiing slope along the national border on the top of the ridge. It was just a first moment to realize that expedition with the pulk to Krkonoše wasn´t the best and smartest idea. Nevertheless, we were two with one Pulka and almost 40 kilometers of Krkonoše winter crossing in front of us.
Once we reach the ridge it became much easier and enjoyable. The leveled Blue color marked trail led us through the spruce forest. In other words, it was like in a dream. Sun was shining Pulk was sliding in frozen snow. What a fairytale. However, the fairytale lasted only a few kilometers until the peak Tabule (1282m). This place normally provides a perfect view of Poland as well as on the Czech highest peak Sněžka (1602m).
Luckily the descent with Pulk with skis tight on it was not so long and we didn´t suffer for long. Another uphill section to the first Mountain hut Jelenka was piece of cake. While we were there the Mountain hut was closed due to Corona, but normally it´s a great place for supper.
If You made the same mistake and took Backcountry skis and decided to make the expedition with the pulka forget to climb the next section fully equipped. We could hardly pull the sled on Svorová hora (1411m) just on foot. However, we put a great effort to overcome the icy sections. After that, I´d recommend crampons to help with the ascent.
Sněžka, the highest peak of Krkonoše
Starting from Svorová Hora (1411m) ultimate ascend to the world´s oh… Czech highest peak Sněžka (1602m) starts. The peak will be also the highest point of our Krkonose winter crossing expedition Unfortunately, this section is only 200 elevation meters up but was also very icy. Without crampons, it would be very difficult and it was while we didn’t have any. If this will be Your time to go to Snežka its a must! As soon as the mountaineer will reach the summit, the breathtaking view will open. Entire Obří důl between Sněžka and Studniční hora will open as well as distant views over the Krkonoše altiplano. This Altiplano is the only place in Krkonoše for the expedition with the pulk.
The descent on the west ridge can be sometimes very hard in some conditions. For sure it´s not possible to take this route with Pulk. Therefore we were forced to take the “Jubileum route” down to Giant saddle (Obří sedlo). Despite relatively easy descent, we encountered a full range of issues with pulks. Tipping over, sliding aside, overtaking and so on. If You´ve read the article until here reconsider taking pulk for this trip. Krkonoše winter crossing is the worst expedition with the pulk 🙂
Crossing winter altiplano of Krkonoše
As long as You reach Obří sedlo, where the Slezský dům is located You´ve partially won. From the pass, You will enter Krkonoše altiplano. This place is a large flat area that evokes the feeling of being in the Norwegian altiplanos. An altiplano is also a place where the snow lasts for the longest time and is always a place to find deep overblown drift of snow. It´s a great place to find a place for a snow cave for a night.
First of all, we´ve enjoyed a great sunset over this place with deep red colors of the sky. Secondly, we could really feel the solitudes and joy of freedom movement in every direction. While the weather is bad it´s difficult to navigate and one can easily get lost. Therefore, wooden poles are pitched in the space to follow and not to lose track.
The destination where the altiplano ends is just behind the hill, or two. It was already dark when we were passing around Malý šišák (1440m). Soon we´ve reached Špindlerova bouda and Schronisko Odrodzenie Which was another waypoint. From this place, we had to climb on the ridge still along the polish and Czech borderline to reach our desired place to sleep.
Already at night, we passed Petrova bouda, which is a mountain hut under reconstruction after a fire a couple of years ago. From this place another climb to Dívčí Kameny (1414m) and along Mužské Kameny (1417m). From Dívčí Kameny we had to descent only a to reach an Emergency shelter Pod Smělcem. Wonderful place to spend a night.
Snězné jámy and Labská louka
The Emergency Shelter became quite popular in recent years and it was really tight to get there. Unfortunately, I was dumb enough to forget the tent and we couldn´t find snow deep enough to create a snow cave. There wasn´t another chance to continue until the end. Luckily I have enough pictures during the day to ate least post some pictures here.
The last significant effort is to climb on Vysoké kolo (1509m). From there enjoy the wonderful views to Sněžné jámy, maybe the deepest ravine in entire Krkonoše. There is also a huge mountain hut, but I´ve never seen it running or open for public. Seems like it´s just a huge transmitter of mobile signal.
Continuing westward on the Czech-Polich route of friendship around the rocky peak Violík. From there It´s most of the time only downhill to Harrachov. But only if you don´t decide to continue on the ridge. It´s great and very lonesome to continue on the ridge over Mountain hut Szrenica which is a good place to stay overnight or just refresh. From Szrenica You can still continue Krkonose winter crossing off-route on the Czech-Polish border. This route is wonderful and soon can turn down to Harrachow or continue to Jakuszyce and than to Harrachov Train station.
Krkonose winter crossing conclusion
Krkonoše winter crossing and generally hiking in those mountains and especially winter a lovely activity indeed. There are many ways to move in the mountains, and many people love this place. Sometimes in a great weather can be a bit crowded especially in the summertime and in the big skiing centers. Fortunately, You can still find a great private place where nobody is going. Whatever way of transport You choose, don´t make an expedition with the pulk. It´s too hard and also too steep hills to overcome with such a device. The backpack is just fine and Krkonoše are not so large to need enormous supplies. Take care and enjoy it!
In case You need any support in the place or with the planning we are from the region, contact us and we will gladly support You!