Behold, the mountain!

In the northern part of the Czech Republic, bordering Poland, lies a magical place. It is not only the place where a rather charismatic old fellow with a grayish long beard, a long wooden stick, a dark cloak and a big hat (no, it’s not Gandalf...sadly) makes (not so appealingly looking) wafers, but also a hotspot for hiking and winter tourism. The magic goes by the name Krkonoše or, in English, Giant mountains.

Mountainside born and bred, I’ve always appreciated the sight of mountains. Mountains are awe-inspiring. Mountains create borders - they make the sky appear smaller and (unless you're a climber) limit your movement. Mountains allow you to discover your physical limits or to improve them. Mountains are a source of numerous resources. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly (at least for me) they are a place of calm, silence...peace?

The most interesting thing for me when I move away from the mountainside to a flatter area is how the sky changes. The smaller patch of blue is replaced by an endless sky. A sometimes frightening and surreal experience. In my brief life in the Netherlands I realised that mountains are always there, hidden in my subconsciousness. Like a fata morgana they appeared in the corner of my eyes and when I turned my head in hopes of seeing mountains, I realised it was only clouds on the horizon. I guess you can imagine how enthusiastic I was about the office team building idea - conquering the highest mountain of the Czech Republic, Sněžka.

The Czech mountainside is not as prominent as the one I’m coming from. Nonetheless, the area still greatly differs from the Czech Republic I know - the more or less flat country with an occasional hill. Adding all the cheesy tourist infrastructure to the picture (numerous restaurants, still ski lifts, empty apartments, green ski slopes…), I kind of felt closer to home in Pec pod Sněžkou, the settlement where we started our adventure.

We set out with no goal in sight, as the peak was hidden in mist and the weather was not May-like at all. We hiked along streams, passed a couple of restaurants, overtook people with baby prams. Closer to the end the path was steeper and interestingly, became paved with rocks and even had stairs (are we going up a mountain or a skyscraper?). Just below the peak, we had a quick refreshment in a Polish cabin (the area borders Poland, remember?:)). The mist got thicker and the surface was covered with snow.

That did not stop us to though. Due to the soft’n’slidy snow the last 30 minutes of the hike felt a bit longer. The last few steps of a hike are usually quite exciting for me. This experience was a bit overshadowed this time by the masses of people sliding down the peak, some with improper city clothing and shoes (are we going for a coffee or what?). The latter probably reached the peak with a cable car leading to the top. Tourism at its best.

Despite the people, the path and all the buildings, I think I found my little share of peace, there in the thick mist on top of Sněžka mountain with my office buddies from YEE.

Written by: Aljaž Malek