Is it an extinct volcano?
From a distance it resembles a volcanic cone, and that is how Mount Wdżar is referred to. Although there is no clear scientific evidence that it was ever an active volcano and today it remains dormant, this does not change the fact that it is made of volcanic rock. Many millions of years ago, the region was submersed beneath a sea, and when the sea receded, the earth began to wrinkle and fold, and liquid magma squeezed between the sedimentary rocks. When it solidified, it formed the now very rare andesite rocks. They were mined here for a long time, which is evidenced by three quarries where you can handle andesite stone, and you can practice extreme sports on their walls. But that is not all. Because of the fact that Mount Wdżar is not only a place to go walking and to observe magnetic anomalies, but also a place of many attractions addressed to both the young and very active and the older and more relaxed It has a perfect location as it is situated next to picturesque Lake Czorsztyn (Jezioro Czorsztyńskie) (the description of Lake Czorsztyn) on whose shores stands one of the most original sculptures created by Władysław Hasior – The Organs, which makes its music by the force of the wind. You can see for yourself if it actually does! As if that isn't enough, from the summit of Mount Wdżar at 767 metres above sea level you can see the Pieniny Mountains, (the description of Pieniny and Spisz) the Gorce Mountains (the description of Gorce and Island Beskids) and the Tatra Mountains. (the description of the Tatra Mountains and Podhale) So we invite you to the mountain, whose name is a real challenge – you can twist your tongue while pronouncing it!
A quarry and a journey to the times when the Himalayas were formed…
An igneous rock, Pieniny andesite was used, among other things, for road building. It was very valuable and useful. That is why on the slopes of the Mount Wdżar three quarries were active in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Lisi Łom, Snozka and Tylka. It is worth taking a walk through them, as it is an interesting live lesson in geology without the boring and redundant repetition of book-bound knowledge. The mountain was formed around the time when the Alps and the Himalayas were rising. A nature trail with passages of varying difficulty leads through the quarries (there are chains too!) where you can learn about the history of the mountain, the movements of the rocks and the unique nature of this place. Information and interesting facts can be found on the boards, and it is worth stopping by if only to find out that the 'rusty woodsia' fern, which thrives exclusively on andesite substrate, grows on Mount Wdżar. Gorce Mountain is the only place it can be found in Poland. Look closely; it is small, and its feathery leaves, including the petiole, are covered with scales. Of course, it is under strict protection, so we advise you not to pick it. In the former quarry you will also find the Papal Gorge, where Cardinal Karol Wojtyla used to celebrate Mass. You will find there an obelisk with a cross and a stone altar. The most interesting formation on Mount Wdżar is the deep gorge that cuts into the southern slope known as Snozka. If you find yourself in it, you will be surrounded by walls twenty-plus metres high. The gorge attracts thrill seekers and climbers here all year long, in summer and winter both.
Dragon and the anomaly
Mount Wdżar teaches people not to hurry. Here you can picnic all day long, use shelters to protect from the cold and wind, and enjoy the most precious things that nature gives us. Climbing to the top, let's breathe freely and admire Kluszkowce in the distance, Lake Czorsztyn with the castle Dunajec in Niedzica (the description of Dunajec Niedzica castle) and Wronin in Czorsztyn (the description of the Ruins of the Wronin Castle in Czorsztyn ruins) with the Tatra, Pieniny and Gorce Mountains looming in the distance. For those who like riddles about the natural world, there is a place on the mountain where the magnetic compass needle literally goes crazy, or shows south instead of north. So if you take your compass with you on the road, you can see how it plays tricks on you, that the compass is confused about which direction is which. Is this caused by andesite rock? Some scientists say that the magnetite of which it is made 'memorised' its magnetisation at the moment when the magma solidified. While others explain this wackiness by a lightning strike that messed up nature a bit. Certainly, it messed up the directions. You will reach the place without any problems by following the signposts.
Those who like thrillers will also find something for themselves here. The mountain has its own dragon legend, and even a sculpture of the giant dragon of Gorce and a dragon's egg. According to the plaque next to the sculpture, centuries ago there was supposed to have been a castle on top of Mount Wdżar. It had a very bad reputation: the people living there were sinful, wicked, and debauched. They refused to repent, and so they were punished. One day, out of the blue, the fires of hell appeared above the castle and a beast emerged from it. The fires consumed the whole village, house by house, and the next day, when the ruins had cooled down, the braver ones wanted to see if the beast was still on the mountain. It wasn't there, but they found a smouldering boulder which, after a while, started to move. It turned out to be a dragon's egg, from which the dragon had just hatched. When the beast wanted to launch a deadly attack on the gathered group of people, one of the smiths leaped at the dragon at the last moment and chained its leg. Thus, the only thing that remained of the sinful settlement was the dragon, which stands here to this day as a warning. It is still in chains, but – who knows?
Downhill all the way? Here is a chance to do it, even more than one. Equally in summer and winter you can find a way to feel the adrenaline and go wild on the slopes of Wdżar. In the winter months the Czorsztyn Ski station operates here. There are three ski runs to choose from, and in summer you can use the year-round ski lift that will take you to the top. If you want to go a bit faster, get on the Alpine Coaster, which reaches speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour, or go for a ride in the Joy Ride Bike Park. Extreme cyclists can choose from several routes of varying difficulty (Downhill, A-Line, Free ride, Green line). The park also offers extreme sports courses, has servicing for bicycles, and rents downhill and mountain bikes. The Joy Ride Fest, one of the largest bicycling festivals in Poland, has been held here for several years.
Have you been encouraged? If not, you still have another option. On the slopes of the mountain you will find a rope park, a summer toboggan run and a place where you can do like the Wright Brothers and get off the ground.
Mount Wdżar is a place from where paragliders soar into the sky. It has been such a place for many years. It was here that Józef Gigoń from Nowy Targ was one of the first to train, and it was here that he set the first Polish records in this sport: in 1977 the record for the highest take-off altitude (1160 m) and in 1980 the record for flight time (8:20 h). So if you are not afraid of heights, but want to see Wdżar from above, from the sun, the opportunity you’re looking for is right here.
The best places to park a car:
- Snozka Pass (Przełęcz Snozka) by road No. 969, access on foot to the hill via the blue trail or field paths up to half an hour, level difference – from 40 to 70 m
- Parking in Kluszkowce at the lower station of the Czorsztyn Ski lift. From here it takes two minutes to get to the station and up the hill.