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Organised hiking in Slovakia celebrated 140th anniversary

THE ORIGINS of organised hiking on Slovak territory can be traced to the establishment of the Great Hungarian Carpathian Association (Uhorský karpatský spolok, UKS) on August 10, 1873 in Smokovec (now Starý Smokovec). Its successor organisations, the Club of Slovak Tourists and the Slovak Climbing Association (IAMES), consider it the first hiking club on Slovak territory.

Hikers enjoy the High Tatras. Hikers enjoy the High Tatras. (Source: SME)

THE ORIGINS of organised hiking on Slovak territory can be traced to the establishment of the Great Hungarian Carpathian Association (Uhorský karpatský spolok, UKS) on August 10, 1873 in Smokovec (now Starý Smokovec). Its successor organisations, the Club of Slovak Tourists and the Slovak Climbing Association (IAMES), consider it the first hiking club on Slovak territory.

Following western European trends, UKS founders based the club’s activities and philosophy on merging outdoor mountain activities with intimate knowledge of local nature and history, volunteering to educate young hikers and mountain climbers and building paths and mountain cottages, the SITA newswire wrote.

Head of the State Scientific Library in Košice Ján Gašpar said many visitors and hikers today are not aware of the fact that the underlying network of hiking paths, cottages, signboards and wells in the High Tatras and other Slovak mountains is the work of the UKS. The association had 31 chapters in Košice, Spišská Nová Ves, Prešov, Poprad, Žilina, Banská Bystrica and elsewhere. The original association operated until 1920, and its successor, the Carpathian Association, was active until 1945.

Anniversary celebrations culminated on the weekend of August 10. The Club of Slovak Tourists (KST) and IAMES organised the opening of the exhibition of period maps and documents on August 9 in the Grand Hotel in Starý Smokovec, prepared by the KST. Also on August 10, hikers and mountain enthusiasts attended a memorial at the Zbojnícka Chata mountain chalet, which is one of three built by the UKS still in operation, the KST’s Dušan Valúch told SITA.

The anniversary events include a range of activities, like an awards ceremony for people instrumental in developing the Tatras, a historical skiing event, a children’s drawing competition, an event about the role of mountain guides and a literary competition for professional writers, the poprad.dnes24.sk website wrote. The events marking the anniversary also include the opening of an exhibition in the reconstructed Encián building at Skalnaté Pleso.

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