Almost a year after the fatal accident on Gerlach, in which three tourists from Poland died, the prosecutor’s office discontinued the investigation into this case. According to the findings of the Slovak rescuers, the Poles chose the wrong route and their guide had insufficient qualifications.
The investigation was conducted by the District Prosecutor’s Office in Kraków. Its spokesman, attorney Janusz Hnatko, announced on Wednesday that the proceedings had been discontinued. As he reported, “the investigators found no signs of a prohibited act.”
The tragic event on the highest peak in the Tatra Mountains – Gerlach, took place on January 7 this year. Mountain rescuers were alerted by a fellow hiker who had previously left the group and returned down. The man was concerned about the lack of contact from friends.
After two days of searching, the bodies of Polish mountain climbers were found under small Gerlach.
Rescuers of the Slovak Horska Zachranna Służba, who analyzed the accident, stated then that the Poles had chosen the wrong summer climbing route on Gerlach. In addition, they were tied with one rope at intervals of about seven meters, and a guide who was not properly qualified to lead people on Gerlach had inadequate crampons.
The route to Gerlach
According to the analysis of the route of the Poles who died tragically, they climbed the Przełęczka nad Kotłem located at an altitude of 2,440 m above sea level. Then, after about 50 meters of traverse on a rock pillar, their trail ended. Climbers fell into the couloir and stopped about 300 meters below in the so-called Gerlachowski Kocioł.
The man who was supposed to lead the group had UIMLA (Union of International Mountain Leader Associations) mountain guide qualifications, but these do not authorize him to lead tourists to climbing areas, including Gerlach. The qualifications of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations IVBV (German – Internationale Vereinigung der Bergführerverbande) are required to conduct expeditions to Gerlach.
Gerlach rises at 2655 m above sea level and is the highest peak in the Tatras and in the entire Carpathians. It lies entirely on the Slovak side of the Tatra Mountains.
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