Hoverla mountain

Hoverla mountain (48°09′63″N 24°29′69″E) (Ukrainian: Говерла; Russian: Говерла; Czech and Slovak: Hoverla; Polish and German: Howerla; Hungarian: Hóvár; Romanian: Hovârla) at 2061m, is the highest mountain in Ukraine and part of the Carpathian Mountains. The mountain is located in the Eastern Beskides, in the so-called Chornohora region. The slopes are covered with beech and spruce forests, above which there is a belt of sub-alpine meadows called polonyna in Ukrainian. At the eastern slope there is the main spring of the Prut river.

The mountain is cone-shaped, the top of it is a small flat area, that allows admiring the landscape within a radius of 360 degrees. It belongs to Chernohora mountain range and lies near town Rakhiv, the geographical center of Europe.

The date of the first ascent is unknown. In late 19th century the mountain became a notable tourist attraction, especially among tourists from nearby cities of Galicia. In 1880 the first tourist route between the peak of Hoverla and Krasny Luh was marked by Leopold Wajgel of the Galician Tatra Society. The following year the first tourist shelter was founded there, since then it is the most visited mountain in this region. Usually it takes about 6 hours to reach the top so it is always popular with people who like one-day adventures in the mountains. In winter it has 1A complication category passes and attracts people that prefer extreme tourism. Statistics states that there is a true pilgrimage to Hoverla on the last day of the year, so finally it has become a tradition: each Ukrainian should mount Hoverla at least once in his life.

Some time ago Hoverla peak was on the border between Poland and Czechoslovakia, now here is a border between Zakarpattia and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. If you look to the South-East you will see the mountain Petros and other mountain ranges behind it. If you look to the North-West you will see Carpathian national park.

In the 20th century and especially after Ukraine gained independence, losing the cheap access to the many mountain region of the former USSR, the mountain is increasingly gaining popularity as an extreme sport site. Some routes are classified as 1A in winter period (from late autumn to May), according to the USSR grading system. Nowadays because of its prominence too many unskilled extreme-lovers are taking attempts to climb it in winter, resulting in regular frostbites or even deaths.

Since the fall of communist regime in Eastern Europe, when the borders became more open, the whole beatiful area of the highest part of Ukrainian Carpathians attracts attention not only of Ukrainian tourists but nowadays becomes more and more popular among hikers from other close countries especially Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia for whom visiting Eastern Carpathian mountians is a real sentimental “back to the past” journey.

In October 2007 the radical pro-Russian Eurasia Party-affiliated "Eurasian Youth Union" vandalized the official Ukrainian state symbols put on the Hoverla mountain. According to the group, they "renamed" the mountain as "Stalin’s peak".

Hoverla is climbed every year by Ukranian President Viktor Yuschenko.

Hoverla is not a difficult mountain to climb. By far the most popular route is from the east — a 6 km. climb one way from a trailhead at 1100 m above sea level (Zaroslyak mountain chalet). It costs a few hryvnias to enter the nature reserve at the end of the very bad gravel road from Vorokhta.

The trail starts at Zaroslyak chalet and rises through spruce forests that open up at 1400 m to reveal beautiful meadows. Grazing here is forbidden, so the grasses and wildflowers grow tall. There is a small spring at the beginning of the meadows where you can fill up your water bottle. The treeline is around 1600 m, but dwarf junipers grow as high as 1800 m. The summit of Hoverla offers excellent views in all directions on rare sunny days. It is surrounded by other mountains above 1800 m. Patches of snow often remain through August. There are a number of monuments on the summit.

Another less popular but nice route up Hoverla is from the north — about 12 km. starting at the extreme south end of Lazeschyna village (seasonal Kozmeschyk tourist base camp).

In my opinion the best choice when planning climbing Hoverla Peak is taking a 2-3 day trip by the whole length of beatiful Chornohora ridge (with bivouacs) starting in the small village of Berestechko (Dzembronia) situated under peaks of Smotrec (1894) and Pip Ivan (2028) at the sout-eastern end of the massif . The village is accessible in the summer season by numerous mini-buses from Verkhovyna . The ridge route is just an easy hike by the highest summits of Ukrainian Carpathians, wonderful views in all directions . The trail is not marked but the orientation is not complicated, You just have to keep the path going by the ridge or traversing grassy slopes just below .

Chornohora Range

The highest mountain group in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains, the eastern part of the Polonynian Beskyd. Its main range extends for about 40 km from the Chorna Tysa River in the west to the Chornyi Cheremosh River in the east. Chornohora is built of hard sandstone with strata of low-resistance schist. The major part of Chornohora forms the watershed between the Prut River and the Tysa River. For many centuries this was also the boundary of the states to which Galicia and Transcarpathia belonged. The western part of Chornohora, containing the Petros Peak (2,020 m), lies in Transcarpathia in the basin of the Tysa. The two parts of Chornohora are separated by a deep pass (alt 1,550 m).

The western part of Chornohora is heavily gouged (the relative height of Petros is 300 m). The eastern part is a massive, monotonous range with peaks over 1,900 m high—Hoverla, 2,061 m; Shpytsi, 1,997 m; Tomnatyk, 2,018 m; Pip Ivan 2,026 m—and a minimum elevation of 1,750 m. Short ranges branch off from the main range. The slopes of Chornohora, which are dissected by narrow valleys 1,000 m or more in width, contrast with the almost level ranges, which are the remains of former peneplains. The landscape of Chornohora has been affected by glaciers more than has that of other parts of the Ukrainian Carpathians. In the Ice Age the boundary of permanent snow lay at an elevation of 1,300–1,400 m, and short glaciers formed at the sources of streams. In the Prut River Valley the glacier reached an elevation of 1,000 m and was 6.5 km long. Postglacial depressions, with steep, often rocky slopes and broad bottoms sometimes covered with lakes (mostly under Tomnatyk) or peat bogs, the uneven slope of the valleys with occasional waterfalls (on the Prut River, for example), and lateral and terminal moraines are some of the effects of former glaciation. The slopes of Chornohora are covered with forests, which occupy 70 percent of the surface. Beech trees are found on the northern slopes in the lower forest belt up to 1,300 m, and spruce trees appear higher up (even up to 1,600 m). Beech are also common on the southern slopes and they constitute the upper boundary of the forests. Above the forest belt , up to 1,800 m, lies a belt of alder and juniper brush, and above it a belt of clear mountain meadow that reaches the peaks or ends sometimes at stone fields. There are many endemic species of flora.

The local population consists of the Hutsul ethnographic group, which inhabits the lowest parts of Chornohora: in Transcarpathia Yasinia lies in the Chorna Tysa River Valley and the town of Bohdan in the Bila Tysa River Valley; in the north there are only the villages of Bystrytsia and Dzembronia. Arable land covers scarcely 0.5 percent of the surface area; forests, 70 percent; hayfields, 5 percent; meadows and pastures, 22 percent. To protect the soil and the villages from floods, small reservoirs were built after the First World War. In 1964 a preserve of 7,702 ha was created in the region; it now forms part of the Carpathian Nature Reserve. Herding is an important occupation in Chornohora, where the pasturing season lasts for five months. The main industry of the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains is tourism. Its centers include Rakhiv, Yasinia, Vorokhta, Bystrets, and Verkhovyna (formerly Zhabie) .

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