Śnieżne Kotły (1,175 m (3,855 ft), Czech: Sněžné jámy, German: Schneegruben, literally Snowy Pits, Snowy Cirque) are two glacial cirques in the western Krkonoše mountains (Giant Mountains), situated in the Karkonosze National Park on the Polish side of the border. They are a unique example of the alpine landscape in the area and have been a nature reserve since 1933.
The walls of both cirques are about 100 metres (330 ft) high and contain small tarn lakes. They were formed during the last phase of the glacial period and consist predominantly of granite. However, in two exposed places basalt was found (apparently of volcanic origin), which is quite rare in this part of Central Europe. Some rare species of arctic and alpine plants appear in the cold and dark parts of the cirques: Pulsatilla alpina, Gentiana asclepiadea, Aconitum napellus, and the only place in Central Europe, where Micranthes nivalis appears. At the top of the larger cirque, at the Łabski Szczyt, there is a radio and television tower.
Hiking and Climbing
It is possible to climb the cirque walls, though climbing is permitted only in January and February and dangerous; since World War II there have been ten fatal accidents. Hiking is possible; the Main Sudeten Trail as well as the Polish - Czech Friendship Trail run along the upper ridge of the cirques, close to the abyss. Two mountain huts, Pod Śmielcem and Pod Łabskim Szczytem, are located in the area.
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