LOMNICKÉ SEDLO - STATISTICS:
Bottom station elevation: 1,787 metres (910 m Lomnica)
Top station elevation: 2,196 metres
Lifts: one double, one four-seat gondola
Total uphill capacity: 800 persons per hour
Kilometres of skiing: 2.5
Number of trails: 2
Adult ski ticket for one day: Sk550 (€13.6) for Lomnické sedlo, including the gondola from Tatranská Lomnica
The resort is about four hours from Bratislava by car or express train. From the main railway station in Poprad, Tatranská Lomnica can be reached easily by electric tram. These trams also link the town to the other High Tatras ski resorts of Starý Smokovec and Štrbské Pleso. In theory, therefore, it is possible to ski several of these resorts in a single weekend.
In practice, however, the resorts do not share the same ski ticket, making ski safaris an expensive proposition. The Lomnické sedlo ticket is only good for the top chairlift and gondola from Tatranská Lomnica. Skiers must purchase additional tickets to use the facilities at any other resort in the region. This confusing and annoying situation must be rectified soon if this small but excellent resort wants to survive.
Lomnické sedlo sits under Slovakia's second highest peak, Lomnický štít (2,632 metres). The resort has a high, above-tree-line feel, similar to what you might expect in Austria's Tirol Alps, but unusual in eastern Europe.
The pistes are short but steep, making this an excellent venue for experts. The black trail under the double chair extends 1,138 metres and covers 419 metres of vertical. Bolder skiers may hike from the top station to the Francúzska mulda chute - reputedly the steepest within-bounds trail in all of Slovakia. The Tatras National Park strictly regulates off-piste skiing. Above the tree line, one can only ski out of bounds with a certified mountain guide, and below the tree line, off-piste skiing is forbidden.
The national park status of the resort also means that there is no snowmaking at Lomnické sedlo. Its slopes face south and do not hold snow well, despite lying at between 1,787 and 2,196 metres in altitude. The resort requires at least 100 centimetres of snow to guarantee decent skiing, so the best conditions tend to be late in the season, after several good snowfalls. Once every three years, enough natural snow falls on the resort to allow one to ski all the way from the top chair station to the lower gondola station - a 5,000-metre trail covering 1,300 metres of vertical.
Lomnické sedlo does not offer much terrain for beginners, but novice skiers can enjoy the 700-metre snow gun covered trail at Jamy, as well as additional blue terrain at Starý Smokovec and Štrbské Pleso.
For the non-skier, the High Tatras region is a perfect venue. While your friends are knocking themselves out on the slopes, you can explore the whole region via the electric tram. A typical day might include shopping at Starý Smokovec's famous boutiques, having a meal at one of the many mountain restaurants (many are accessible by funicular railroad or cable car), and then snowshoeing around the high alpine lake at Štrbské Pleso.
The region offers a large number of excellent hotels, such as the four-star Grand Hotel Praha in Tatranská Lomnica. Built in 1905 in the art nouveau style, this hotel offers a taste of the area's history as one of the oldest climate spa towns in Europe. Doubles start at Sk3,400 (€82). The three-star Hotel Morava also offers very comfortable double rooms for Sk1,440 (€34).
The High Tatras region has the potential to be the St Moritz of central Europe: top of the world quality at a fraction of the cost. However, before that title can be applied, many wrinkles must be ironed out. The various ski areas need a common pass, new lifts, and a more liberal agreement with the national park on the vital issue of snowmaking.
23. Feb 2004 at 0:00 | Roman Millan and John Sherwood