Pavel Rajtar

Pavel Rajtar

Pavel Rajtar belongs among the first graduates of the Riding School in Topoľčianky, which was established in the early 1950s. In addition, he is among the giants of world mountaineering and mountain leadership. He reached the biggest stars of extreme skiing and sports ski mountaineering.

He was born on June 24, 1936 in the small village of Sľažany, Zlaté Moravce district, which is located at the foot of the Tribeč Hills. He got his love for nature already in his childhood. Hills and mountains fascinated him. He recalls one key childhood experience when he carried horse feed in a sack on his back in the early evening. On the way, he was attracted by the beautiful colourful sunset over the ruins of Jelenecký Castle Gýmeš, so much so that he stood stunned and let himself be carried away by the beauty. Then his father put his hand on his shoulder and said: "Turn around, over there behind Vtáčnik there are much higher mountains than ours, there are the Tatras."

His uncle Peter Rajtár was also a mountain enthusiast. Together they marched across the Tatras. Thanks to him, he knew the Alps before he even visited them. His father was a farmer, a successful beekeeper and vine-dresser. The family owned agricultural land and therefore he did not get to secondary school.

Horses were part of his childhood. Already at the age of ten, he helped with the harvests or with the weighing of wood, which was done with the help of horses at that time. That is also why he decided to train as a rider in Topoľčianky. One Sunday afternoon, his father hung down his riding boots from the timber, his mother baked crackling pugs for him, and equipped in this way, Pavel Rajtar set off on foot over three hills to the stud farm in Topoľčianky. In the riding stable, he introduced himself to the then feeders - Mr. Uhrecky and Mr. Mihók, who welcomed him with the words: "Go to stable number two, box number one is empty, there is no horse there, put on clean straw and you will sleep there." Only a few months after upon his arrival, a riding school was established with a boarding school, similar to the one in Veľká Chuchla. Its seat was in the building where the Hradná straž hotel is today. His teacher was none other than Mr. Šulgan himself - one of the greatest hippological experts of his time and at the same time an excellent trainer. The riding school lasted two years. Mr. Rajtar finished it with a final grade of 3. Then Mr. Šulgan said to him: "God goes to one, me to two, and the best of the students to three." He was always very strict with his students, but these words were a great encouragement to him.

Pavel Rajtar dedicated himself to horse racing for six years. He himself says that there was nothing more beautiful for him than merging with the movement of a horse in a strong gallop. In 1957, his professional contract at the Olomouc racetrack ended and he had to decide what to do next. Both his increasing weight (58 kg at the time) and his desire to complete his secondary education decided him to enter an agricultural secondary school. He convinced his parents that the one in Spišská Nová Ves is better than the one in nearby Levice. However, the real reason was that from Spišská Nová Ves it is only a jump to the Tatras.

His mother bought him his first skis after the war from the soldiers. They measured 220 cm and were made of wood. When he was 16 years old, the ski association in the next village advertised the district championships for the public. With that ski equipment, the rade could not have ended other than by a fall. However, Pavel Rajtar was not discouraged by the failure and, despite the inadequate equipment, signed up for the 10 km run. He gave it his all and crossed the finish line first, 3 and a half minutes ahead of the second competitor.

After some time, when he reached a certain level in skiing, he started to devote himself to the children from Štrbské pleso and built a giant slalom for them on the slope below Skalnaté pleso. He used skis with climbing (sealing) belts, but he was laughed at by many skiers. Those were the beginnings of his tours outside the groomed slopes and pistes. He engaged in ski mountaineering competitively for several years and achieved great results, even though the beginnings were difficult.

While studying in high school, he liked to read mountain literature. He was particularly interested in the book Stars and Storms by Gaston Rébuffat. Even then, he dreamed of becoming a mountain guide one day. That's why he moved to Štrbské pleso in 1958 so that he could climb. He completed many hikes with Štefan Závacky, in the very second year of their partnership, they climbed difficult hikes by the standards of the time. In 1961, he took the mountain guide exams and on July 8, he received a guide book.

The profession of mountain guide was only found in the High Tatras in the territory of Czechoslovakia. The first established tourist organization on our territory dates back to 1873. Since then, it has gone through many changes and difficult periods. With his activities, Pavel Rajtar significantly contributed to the admission of Slovak mountain guides to the International Organization of Mountain Guides UIAGM in 1996. Since then, Slovak mountain guides can work freely and independently in all UAIGM member countries.

His desire to know mountains higher than the Tatras led him to many expeditions. During his 60-year career, he completed a large number of mountaineering ascents, e.g. in the Caucasus, the Alps, the Hindu Mountains, the Pamirs, and the Himalayas.

Matúš Demko a Pavel Rajtar, 2015, Strmé cesty pod hviezdami


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