Hala Kondratowa (Kondratowa Glade) – Mount Giewont – Dolina Strążyska (Strążyska Valley),
time to walk 7 h
This is a relatively difficult, full day trip, with 900 metres of altitude difference. The trail takes you to one of the most popular Polish peaks, that is believed to be the landmark for Zakopane and the area. There are wild mountain goats to be met, together with crowds of people in the season. In ice and rain the upper part of the hike are difficult and dangerous.
We leave Kuźnice next to the lower station of the cable car to Mount Kasprowy and continue along cobbled Droga Św. Brata Alberta (Saint Brother Albert's Road) to Kalatówki. We go past Albertine Nunnery and go left off the road to follow a narrow path that goes round Kalatówki in the lower parts of the clearing. We then continue through the woods to the shelter in Kondratowa Glade. Over to the right are slopes of Long Giewont, in winter time there is a very high avalanche risk there. Over to the left is a green trail to Czerwone Wierchy. Our trail takes us to upper parts of Kondratowa Glade. We walk among dwarf pines to a valley called Piekło (Hell) and we start a steep ascend to Kondracka Pass (1725 m asl). Małej Łąki Valley is over to the west (yellow trail). Trail leading over to the south to Kopa Kondracka is also marked with yellow. Our path turns right, to the north and after a short while reaches Kondracka Pass Wyżnia (1780 m asl), popularly called Przełęcz Herbaciana (Tea Pass), as in the past local women would sell tea and sour milk to hikers here. Path to Mount Giewont approaches Szczerba Pass (between Long Giewont and Mount Giewont) from the right, next it goes up very steep towards the cross on the very top of the mountain. The trail is one way here (coming down you go round the peak). Hikers are helped with chains to support themselves on the way up to the peak. In the season it gets often very crowded at the top and one needs to wait in a line to get their turn to proceed up.
The cross on top of Mount Giewont was erected in 1901 by initiative of Kazimierz Kaszelewski. The highlanders brought particular steel elements to the peak and put them together. Steel construction is 15 metres high (additional 2 metres in the foundation).
The peak of Mount Giewont is particularly dangerous in storm time – high, protruding steel cross attracts lightnings and there has been quite a few serious accidents here. Under no circumstances should you leave marked trails – attempts to shorten one's way, looking for descends on the northern slopes to well seen from above Zakopane, or coming over to Żleb Kirkora between Mount Giewont and Small Giewont almost every time ends in disaster. Despite being very close to Zakopane and a relatively easy access, Mount Giewont is a dangerous peak. Thou it is a beautiful one. Its shape reminds of a sleeping person, hence numerous legends have given it the name of a Sleeping Knight and associated it with the events from the Polish history. Mount Giewont is built of sediment rock, it has got rich flora, and is also a place to see a lot wild mountain goats. The view from the top is one of the most spectacular ones in the Tatras.
After we descend from Mount Giewont, we turn right in Wyżna Kopa Kondracka and follow red trail via Przełęcz w Grzybowcu to Strążyska Valley and then Zakopane. Initially, the trail runs along Small Giewont with Małej Łąki Valley in view and beautiful views over to Wielka Turnia and Kobylarz, later on, from Przełęcz w Grzybowcu we continue in the woods.