Winter is in full swing and few things are more pleasing than the sight of snow-capped mountain peaks. If you are looking for a place to spend your winter vacation, try going to the Turiec region in central Slovakia, which is surrounded by mountains. The snowy slopes attract skiers, snowboarders, ski alpinists, sledders and tourists. There are several ski resorts in Turiec and they are only a few dozens of kilometers apart, so you can try several slopes during a multi-day stay.
Popular ski resorts are located in the Valčianska dolina valley, Jasenská dolina valley and Martinské hole mountains. The latter rises to an altitude of 1,456 meters and, in favourable weather, has plenty of natural snow and wonderful views of the Veľká and Malá Fatra, and the Low and High Tatras.
Winter Park Martinky opened the season on December 17 and has several new features. The first is an electronic store, where visitors can buy ski passes at discounted prices compared to the cash desks in the resort.
"What's new is a smaller slope for sledding and spending free time with small children, for which a safe space is set aside outside the main slopes," said Matej Bórik, marketing manager of the Winter Park Martinky resort.
There are 12 main pistes on Martinské hole of varying difficulty and will suit both beginners and advanced skiers. Of course, there is a ski school and rental of skis, snowboards and other accessories needed for the slopes.
Refreshments at Martinské hole are provided by several restaurants and also by the popular Après-ski bar, with a new photo point and a stand with the mascot, Marta the squirrel.
Visitors to the Martinky Winter Park should not forget that the resort is accessible thanks to a forest road that narrows with piles of fresh snow. Because of this, traffic is regulated - you can get to the ski resort only in the morning and from it only again in the afternoon. Tire chains are a must.
Mountain chalets and ski touring
If you've fallen for ski mountaineering in recent years, you're not the only one who likes to hike routes that are outside ski resorts. There are so many possible routes in Turiec that you will have a hard time choosing.
"Hikes to mountain chalets of about medium difficulty are popular," said Peter Kračmer, UIMLA mountain guide. "The ascent to Chata pod Chlebom chalet is one of the most popular ski-alpine hikes in Turiec." The chalet is located at an altitude of 1,415 meters, and an ideal starting point is Trusalová or Šútovo.
Peter Kračmer advises:
One should not forget that in addition to the hike up to a chalet or peak, one must also get down. Ungroomed snow can quickly change properties and skiing down from the top can be more difficult than climbing it. Attention should be paid to the weather forecast, warnings given by mountain services and especially the avalanche forecast. It is ideal to go in a group and be equipped with avalanche equipment (avalanche transceivers, shovel and probe). Choose your hike according to the current weather and conditions, and don't forget to have a plan B for if the weather turns bad. Coming back from a hike alive and well is more important than climbing to the top and tempting fate.
The hike to Chata pod Kľačianskou Magurou chalet is also among people's favourites, even though the route is a bit steeper, said Kračmer. The beginning of the hike is in Turčianske Kľačany. Both chalets are located in the Kriváňská part of the Malá Fatra mountain range.
In the Veľká Fatra mountain range, a popular hike is to Chata pod Borišovom chalet, starting at Chata Havranovo chalet in the Belianska valley. Across the Turčianka valley is the already mentioned Martinské hole. You can choose from a number of mountain huts at the resort.
Skilled ski alpinists often go further afield from the chalets to popular Fatra mountain peaks. Don't miss Chleb and Veľký Kriváň from Chata pod Chlebom, recommended Kračmer. From Chata pod Kľačianskou Magurou you can continue to Suchý.
"The ridge hike along these peaks is also popular," said Kračmer. "However, this is already a difficult hike."
From Martinské hole, you can go to Minčol, Krížava, Veľká Lúka or Veterné. If the ascent to Martinské hole and the continuation to the mountain peaks is too difficult for you, Kračmer recommends driving to Martinské hole by car and starting the ascent from the ski resort.
"The ridge hike on these peaks is less demanding than the ridge hike in the Kriváňská part of Malá Fatra," he said.
From Chata pod Borišovom chalet, you can go to Borišov or Ploská. Try and include Lysec as well - although you won't find any chalet on top, it is one of the most popular peaks to climb in Turiec, said Kračmer. Access to the mountain foothill is easy and the bare side of the hill offers a wide area for skiing. Beautiful views of the Veľká Fatra and the Lúčanská part of Malá Fatra are just the icing on the cake.
If you don't dare hike on your own, you can contact a certified UIMLA mountain guide, such as Peter Kračmer, or a UIAGM mountain guide.
"He will plan the hike for you, he will teach you a lot and you will enjoy the skialp experience to the fullest," added Kračmer.
Winter atmosphere of the open-air folk museum
If you need to take a break from active rejuvenation, you will certainly be pleased with several museums and galleries in Turiec. The Museum of the Slovak Village, the largest Slovak open-air museum, presents buildings from the regions of Orava, Turiec, Liptov and Kysuce, and has a truly magical atmosphere.
"The days are getting shorter, darkness is coming earlier, and all the roofs, as well as meadows, gardens and trees, will be covered by a layer of snow for the winter," said Milena Kiripolská, spokesperson for the museum. "Livestock hide in the barn before winter. It's as if the museum has gone into hibernation."
But don't be fooled - the museum is open and very lively, especially thanks to regularly organised events in the winter season, such as Christmas in the village, which is aimed at presenting the customs of the pre-Christmas and Christmas period related to Mikuláš, Ondrej and Lucia.
In the new year, the event Carnival will present carnival customs, which include a parade in traditional masks, burying a double bass and other carnival festivities.
The article has been brought to you thanks to a partnership with the Žilina Tourism Region - www.zilinskyturistickykraj.sk.
Implemented with the financial support of the Ministry of Transport and Construction of the Slovak Republic.