On small magic boards from one mountain cottage to another
It will soon be 135 years since the first skis appeared on the Krkonoše slopes. Within a few years this curious fad became an indispensable aid, making life in the mountains easier in a way that nobody would have dared to hope. The mountaineers started to make them themselves, to use them profusely and to recommend them enthusiastically, and so at the beginning of the last century the "ski people" with starting numbers in the ski competitions were able to overcome the pitfalls of the unpredictable Krkonoše weather. Mountain cottages were the logical points of orientation and they still are. The tradition of runners on boards has never been disrupted in the least and the Krkonoše mountains are still a true paradise for cross-country skiing. Just by chance, if you wanted to really go across the Krkonoše mountains, take the 71km long, beautifully rugged main Krkonoše trail from Harrachov to Žacléř. And if a certain place strikes your fancy and you turn off, you won´t be disappointed, because there are more than 500 km of trails connected to each other. The uniqueness of these perfectly groomed trails consists in their already mentioned tradition. Let ´s focus on the tourist signs. The original "mute" signs have marked the trails for 90 years. They were once invented by a certain Mr. Muttich and that´s why they are called "mutichovky" and they are red symbols made of a sheet of metal supplementing the pole signs, which form the specific goal. Different shapes represent different destinations. And why are they mute? They don´t need words, everybody can understand them.
The Krkonoše Mountains, much more than just Špindl
Downhill skiing also has a long tradition in Krkonoše. The first meadows intended for downhill skiing were groomed back at the beginning of last century. The truly first electric ski lift was built by the legendary mayor of Špindlerův Mlýn, Wilhelm Piek already in the 1920’s and in 1947 the first ski lift from Sv. Petr to Pláň was bulit. Špindl, as this place is gently called by the loals, is of course one of the most visited, almost iconic resorts. The most famous downhill slopes in Svatý Petr are also complemented by the Hromovka, Medvědín, Horní Mísečky and Labská resorts. However, this doesn´t mean that downhill skiing in Harrachov, Janské Lázně, in Pec pod Sněžkou or in Rokytnice nad Jizerou would be less interesting. Especially when the resorts are connected and offer one permanent ticket for trails which are often quite far one from another. This is similar at the Černá Hora-Pec pod Sněžkou ski resort. There you can enjoy 36 kilometers of downhill slopes, you will be taken up to Černá Hora by the only 8-seat cabin cableway in our country and when you reach the bottom (either on skis, a snowboard or sled along the beautiful, 3.5 long Bell Trail), you can continue on to more distant terrain- to Pec, Velká Úpa, Černý Důl or to Svoboda nad Úpou in a very original way- namely on a snowmobile. In Harrachov, the main point of interest for skiers is of course Čerťák with its splendid downhill slopes, two four-seater chair lifts and many opportunities for your free time, when your legs have had enough skiing for the day. A great idea is to visit the local glassworks with a tour of the operation, the museum or the brewery with its original beer spa. To remind you that it´s practically an obligation to take the new cableway from Pec to Sněžka to see the remarkable new building of Poštovna and to enjoy the feeling that you can´t get any higher in the Czech Republic, would be useless.
Moving on the snow like a lynx
It’s no fun going for a walk in the mountains when there’s one and a half meters of snow in the mountains. You will drown up to your neck. But that’s only if you don´t know how handle it. Old mountaineers had to go out despite the snow and so they used snowshoes. They just entwined a wooden hoop with ropes and attached it to their boots. Nowadays, the snowshoes are, as well as everything in our life, much more sophisticated. Either they use a dural frame, or they are completely made of durable plastic. They have a binding similar to the one used for snowboards and they provide you with a unique experience. Rent some snowshoes and see for yourself. Many Krkonoše rental offices already offer them. A walk over the snowy plains, through the forest or along the ridge, of course respecting the recommendations of the Mountain Rescue Service, is like an experience from another time. It will take a while before you get used to this bulky, slightly peculiar style of walking, but you will soon be simply amazed at where you end up. Take for example the route from Harrachov across Labská bouda to Horní Mísečky, or from Pláň to Černá hora, or, if you are really determined and in good condition, from Černá hora to Horní Albeřice and Horní Malá Úpa, but that’s already a respectable 25 km.
A plastic sled under us, riding down the hill, this is what we have known since our early childhood. But just as we have grown, so should our sleds. In Krkonoše, there are three bobsled tracks open during the year. The longest one and the least influenced by bad weather is the one in Mladé Buky. It´s 1.5 km long, with banked turns and an overpass above the Úpa river-simply a great experience. Another two tracks will get your adrenalin pumping in Špindlerův Mlýn—one is only 100m shorter, has 22 turns, 5 terrain brakes and three tunnels, and in Harrachov, where you will enjoy a 1Km long ride with 17 turns and two fantastic above ground crossings. Whether you are going alone or in a two- seat bobsled, you will want to repeat it because it´s an almost addictive experience.