History of Hungarian Mountain Guides

source: Schermann Szilárd “Szögescipők nyomai a Kárpátok bércein” Budapest, 1937 18. chapter

The history of the mountain guiding and history of the mountaineering is closely related. All has started at High Tatras. All the surrounders- hunters, shepherds, teachers and metal researchers intrest was uprised by that beautiful granite mountain.
First written memories were in 1683 published book: ’Ungarischer oder Dacianischer Simplicissimus’ chapter 13. It contains the student of Kesmark’s Lyceum with the permission of the rektor took a trip to the mountains. The rektor with his friends climbed the Peak of Kesmark after accomplished a climbing/mountaineering course, the leader had the third summit at this time. On the way down they used rope. At that that time there were 3 normal routes to the top.

Hungarian Karpatian Association (MKE) (established in 1873) and the Polskie Towarzystwo Tatrzańskie (PTT) (established in 1871) researched the values of the High Tatra together. The MKE registered all the guides were guiding in High Tatra at that time: there were 37 registered guide on the south face. The guide ID was introduced in 1875, what contained beside the personal data, all the rules of the association for the guiding, fares of the guided tours and where the client could make his own notes about the guiding.

The first course for guides was in 1882. It lasted for 4 weeks and was held by Szontagh Miklos, a doctor from Újtátrafüred. The moduls of the course were: health care, collecting herbs, handling the rope, thermometer, aeroid. The course run till 1914. The intructors were the famous mountaineers of that age:

  • Ambrózy Albert teacher from Nagyszalók,
  • Rokfalusy Lajos headmaster of industrial school from Iglo,
  • Hefty Gyula Andor teacher of history from Késkmárk and
  • Zuber Oszkar architect

The guides got some ice axe, rope and they did guiding as practise. They also got some accomodation at the nearby holiday resorts.

After WWI and the Trianon treaty the MKE was shared in small organisations mainly abroad. What part remained in Chechoslovakia established the Karpathenverein Organization, what goals were the same of the orignal MKE. The activities took place at High Tatra and Tátraalja. The winter sports (skiing,) tourism, montaineereing were devoleped a lot at this time.

All traditional hungarian guides were retired in 1935.