|Elevation||2,654.4 m (8,709 ft)|
|Prominence||2,355 m (7,726 ft)|
|Isolation||509 km (316 mi)|
Country high point
|English translation||Peak (of the village) of Gerlachov|
|Language of name||Slovak|
|Location||Tatra National Park, Prešov, Slovakia|
|Parent range||High Tatras|
|First ascent||1834 by Ján Still|
Gerlachovský štít (ⓘ, translated into English as Gerlachov Peak, German: Gerlsdorfer Spitze, Hungarian: Gerlachfalvi-csúcs), informally referred to as Gerlach, is the highest peak in the High Tatras, in Slovakia, and in the Carpathian Mountains. Its elevation is usually listed at 2654.4 m above mean sea level. The mountain features a vertical rise of approximately 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) above the valley floor.
Mistaken for an average mountain in the rugged High Tatras range in the more distant past, it has since played a symbolic role in the eyes of the rulers and populations of several Central European nations, to the point that between the 19th and mid-20th century, it had four different names with six name reversals. Due to geopolitical changes, it was successively the highest mountain of the Kingdom of Hungary, and of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia and then Czechoslovakia again within the span of less than three decades of the 20th century.
Gerlachovský štít shares its geology and ecology with the rest of the High Tatras. With the travel restrictions imposed by the Eastern Bloc, the mountain was particularly treasured by Czechs, East Germans, Hungarians, Poles, and Slovaks as a high mountain available for them to climb. Although local authorities have since restricted access to the peak, it continues to attract its share of visitors.
Gerlachovský štít means the "Peak (of the village) of Gerlachov". The Slovak colloquial (unofficial) name is Gerlach. The Polish official names are Gerlach or Gierlach, while its Polish colloquial names are Girlach and Garłuch. The name of the village of Gerlachov itself is of German origin, because the Spiš region around the High Tatra Mountains in Slovakia used to be inhabited by German settlers for several centuries.
The peak's earliest recorded name was the Szepes-German Kösselberg (Cauldron Mountain) on a map from 1762. The Slovak name of the mountain was first recorded as Kotol, also meaning "Cauldron", in 1821. Both names referred to the peak's characteristic cauldron-like cirque.
Its current name became widely used in the 19th century, and links the mountain to the village of Gerlachov (Carpathian German: Gerlsdorf)) at its foot. The name Gerlsdorfer Spitze (Gerlachov Peak) was used by the first person to identify the mountain as the highest peak in the Tatras in 1838; this was rendered as gerlachovský chochol (Gerlach crest) in a Slovak version of his report in 1851. Several other mountains in the High Tatras have acquired their names from villages in the foothills.
Once it was determined that the mountain was the highest point in the region, the succession of the authorities that held control over it took an interest in its name and changed it periodically for symbolic reasons. In 1896, as part of Austria-Hungary, it was named after state Emperor Francis Joseph I. After the dissolution of the monarchy in 1918, the mountain continued to be known simply as Gerlachovský štít because it belonged to the village of Gerlachov. The Polish government, claiming the territory of the High Tatras for Poland, simultaneously called the mountain Szczyt Polski (Polish Peak), but never gained control over it. The new Czechoslovak government changed the name to Štít legionárov (Legionnaires Peak) in honor of the Czechoslovak Legions in 1923, but the name was dropped in favor of the earlier Gerlachovský štít in 1932. As a result of the Communist coup d'état in 1948, the mountain was renamed once more − to Stalinov štít (Stalin Peak) in 1949. Its traditional name Gerlachovský štít was restored yet again a decade later and has remained unchanged through the present.
Gerlachovský štít was not always considered the highest mountain in the Tatras. After the first official measurement of peaks in the Tatras during the period of the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th century, Kriváň (2,494 m) was considered the highest. Other candidate peaks for the status of the highest mountain at that time were Lomnický štít (2,633 m) and Ľadový štít (2,627 m). The first person to accurately name Gerlachovský štít as the highest peak was the forester Ľudovít (Ludwig) Greiner in 1838. Greiner's measurement was formally confirmed by an Austrian Army survey party in 1868. However, it was generally accepted only after the Vienna Military Institute for Geography issued a new, authoritative collection of maps of Central Europe in c. 1875.
The first confirmed ascent was made by Ján (Johann) Still from the village of Nová Lesná in 1834. In 1880, the routes through the Velická próba (Velická Challenge) and Batizovská próba (Batizovská Challenge) were secured by chains.
Only members of a national Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme (UIAA) club are allowed to climb the peak on their own. Other visitors have to take a certified mountain guide. The two easiest routes, usually up the Velická próba and down the Batizovská próba named after their respective valleys, are protected by chains. Because of an exposed section along the Velická próba and tricky orientation especially on the ridge, both are among the more difficult scrambling routes in the High Tatras. With no snow, guidebooks grade the routes as a II or III climb (UIAA scale) or lower. The route named Martinkova begins at Poľský hrebeň and leads to the summit along the ridge. The Martinkova route has two main variants; a short version starts at Litvorové sedlo and is considered easier, because it skips a section from Velický štít which requires abseiling.
The total elevation gain is about 1,000 m (3,300 ft) for those who spend the night at the Sliezsky Dom Hotel or are driven there by a mountain guide, and about 1,665 m (5,463 ft) for those who hike from Tatranská Polianka. In winter, Gerlachovský štít offers a challenging alpine climb, with mixed climbing and a risk of avalanches.
The route to Gerlachovský štít falls under the Tatra National Park ordinance, according to which hikers who depart from marked trails may be subject to fines unless they are UIAA members, or are led by an certified mountain guide. Camping is subject to similar restrictions. Rangers and some mountain guides are authorized to collect fines on the spot. Cairns that hikers build to mark the trail are periodically taken apart.
Conditions at the summit
The effects of high-altitude weather on those who ascend Gerlachovský štít may be more pronounced than its altitude alone. The temperature gradient between the Tatra mountain resorts (900–1,350 m or 2,950–4,430 ft) and the summit can be steep. Low air temperature higher up can be masked by high insolation under clear skies, but will take its effect with increased cloud cover. Combined with windy conditions, the impact may be considerably detrimental even without rain or snow. The summit disappears in the clouds for periods of time on most days, which translates to fog at that elevation and a risk of disorientation.
While temperatures are somewhat lower on Gerlachovský štít because of its elevation, the weather and its potential impact on visitors is little different from other summits in the High Tatras both with and without marked trails. The typical daily weather pattern in the summer is a clear morning, clouds gathering by around noon, and occasional showers and storms in the afternoon. The chance of rain is lowest between 9–10 am and peaks between 2–3 pm, with a drop-off after 6 pm. The frequency of storms with lightning (as opposed to rainstorms) on Gerlach's summit and on the other highest ridges is little different from lower elevations.
2–3 pm, Celsius
2–3 pm, Fahrenheit
|Days with storms and lightning||0||0||0||2||5||9||9||6||2||0||0||0|
|Days with summit 10+ min.
in clouds (low visibility)
|Days with rime ice||19||15||16||16||13||5||4||5||10||11||17||19|
|Days with snowfall||19||16||18||19||16||9||5||4||6||11||17||19|
|Days with snow
cover >1 cm (0.4 in)
|Days with visibility
>20 km (12.4 mi) at 2–3 pm
- "Europe Ultra-Prominences". Peaklist.org. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Gerlachovský štít, Slovakia". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
- "Gerlachovsky Stit". Retrieved 21 August 2022.
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- "GERLACH". Encyklopedia Internautica (in Polish). n.d. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- Ivan Bohuš, Od A po Z o názvoch Vysokých Tatier, 1996.
- Milan Olejník (2002). ""Impact of external factors upon the formation of ethnicity – the case of German community living in the region of Zips (Slovak Republic)." Človek a spoločnosť". Slovak Academy of Sciences in Košice. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
- Illegible in this image. – Francis Florian Czaki, Mappa geographica repræsentans partem Hungariæ nempe sic dictum Comitatum de Zips ... Comitat Scepusiensis. Engraved by Friedrich Hampe, 1762. Archived 18 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine In: Józef Szlafarski, Poznanie Tatr, 1972.
- Jakob Meltzer, "Das Zipser Comitat." In: Johannes Csaplovics, Topographisch-statistisches Archiv des Königreiches Ungarn, 1821.
- For instance: Alexander F. Heksch, Führer durch die Karpathen und oberungarischen Badeorte. 1881.
- Ludwig Greiner, "Die Gerlsdorfer Spitze als die höchste Gebirgshöhe der Karpathen." Gemeinnützige Blaetter zur Belehrung und Unterhaltung, 1839.
- L. Greiner, "Gerlachovský chochol, jako nejvyšší jehlan v Tatrách." Slovenské noviny, November 1851.
- "Gerlachovský štít" (in Slovak). Mikuláš Argalács and Dominik Michalík. 2003. Archived from the original on 9 November 2007. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
- "Baron Adrien de Gerlache: Víte co má nejslavnější belgický polárník společného s nejvyšší horou Vysokých Tater?" (in Czech). Foreign Ministry of the Czech Republic. 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
- źudovít Greiner
- Pamätná izba Ľudovíta Greinera v Revúcej
- Július Burkovský and Igor Viszlai (6 October 2006). "Ľudovít Greiner" (in Slovak). Lesy SR (Forests of the Slovak Republic). Retrieved 3 June 2007.
- Contrary to its title, it actually contained 14 plates: Josef Schlacher, General-Karte von Mittel-Europa. In 12 Blättern. ca. 1875.
- Ján (Johann) Still | Nová Lesná
- "Menu on the left – Gerlachovský štít" (in Slovak). tatry.nfo.sk. n.d. Retrieved 3 June 2007.
- Július Andráši and Arno Andráši, Tatranské vrcholy: Vysokohorský sprievodca. 1973.
- "Mountain Hotel Sliezsky Dom". travelslovakia.sk. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- Miluláš Konček and Michał Orlicz, "Teplotné pomery." In: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- František Smolen and Mieczysław Kołodziejek, "Žiarenie." In: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- Jadwiga Orliczowa and Vladimír Peterka, "Oblačnosť a slnečný svit." In: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- Stanislav Samuhel, "Je výstup na Gerlach nebezpečný?" Krásy Slovenska, 1966.
- Kazimierz Chomicz and Ferdinand Šamaj, "Zrážkové pomery." In: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- The weather and climate data for this altitude are rounded from averages of varying numbers of decades through the 1960s. They may represent or diverge from current averages or averages covering longer periods: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- Vojtech Briedoň, Kazimierz Chomicz and Mikuláš Konček, "Snehové pomery." In: Mikuláš Konček, et al. Klíma Tatier. 1974.
- "Gerlachovsky Stit". SummitPost.org.
- QTVR 360 degree panorama from the peak Archived 23 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
- Detailed descriptions of peaks in the High Tatras (in Slovak)
- Map of the area Archived 30 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine