Sherpa isn't just about physical strength, it's also about mental strength

Sherpa is not only about physical strength, the psyche also gets a workout

He inherited his love for mountains and hiking from his parents and, as he says, he came to his profession naturally. Volunteer rescuer, mountain porter, mountain guide, owner of the Sherpa café and manager of the Swiss House in Stary Smokovec - each of these roles is associated with the Tatra Mountains and the name Štefan Bačkor.

When a person looks up your name on the internet, they will find more information. Somewhere it says you are a porter, elsewhere I read that you are a mountain guide or a volunteer rescuer. So please tell me, who is Stefan Bačkor?  
I am from here, from Poprad, I was born here, I grew up here. The first thing one sees are the hills, so these professions of mine naturally stem from the environment that surrounds me. My mother climbed, it wasn't very common back then for a woman to be in a climbing team. I probably picked up my love of the mountains from her. She led my brother and I to exercise and hike. Almost every weekend we spent in the Tatras, in nature, regardless of the weather. In high school I started climbing hills, and my brother led me to the craft of sherpa. One day, instead of climbing, he went out to try to hike with a friend because the weather was bad. That was also my first contact with the world of mountain sherpa.  
Is it carrying to the cottages every day or does it depend on the weather? 
Eachcottage has its own system, but during the season it doesn't matter what the weather is like. If a cottage is busy 24/7, it has to be stocked. An experienced hut keeper "prepares" his sherpa before the main, i.e. summer, season. In addition to the hut staff, each cottage has a community of outside porters, often former employees and others who do this as a hobby alongside their work. 
The craft of sherpa is a rarity in the world. It doesn't even work in the Alps anymore, most cottages abroad are supplied by helicopters or otherwise. How is it possible that this craft is still alive here?  
It is a combination of several factors. One is that most of the cottages are in national parks, so it's about nature conservation. If the conditions are not right, you can't fly a helicopter. For example, we had a temperature inversion for a month, we were sunbathing up there, but because there was fog and low visibility down below, the helicopter couldn't take off. Flying is mainly done before the summer season, to pre-supply the cottages before the valleys open, but also before the winter season to supply the cottages with heating material. Even so, there is more flying than in the past, but the weather is very limiting. The sherpa can go in almost any weather.
Are there women among the sherpa or is it a craft exclusively for men?  
In the past, a lady from Lendak was a professional sherpa, who is also recorded in the historical records of sherpa. That was a long time ago, she was still dressed in traditional clothes, in skirts, it must have been very difficult. Today, women want to try it more recreationally, none are currently carrying professionally.
Sherpa also works as an attraction - tourists in the Tatras can carry a crozier to one of the cottages. Which route do you recommend in summer? 
For starters, I recommend the Zamkovského cottage - it is the shortest route and the elevation gain is also not harsh. Here you will find out how it is. I do individual ascents for those interested mainly here. The hut is perfectly located for this activity, in a safe way one can try it in the company of a professional sherpa. Of course, I want the hiker-carrier to enjoy it as well. Carrying is not only about physical strength, but also about mental strength. One learns how one reacts in a difficult situation. Sometimes he would like to, but his body can't take it anymore, then I need to judge the situation correctly and stop him if I see that he physically can't take it anymore. Currently we have a 20% discount for members of the MYAPLEND loyalty system on the Sherpa adventure. It is an experiential ascent to the Zamkovského cottage accompanied by a professional sherpa and, if you are interested, a lecture on alpine sherpa combined with a tour of our porter mini-museum in the Swiss House. 
What does this carrying look like - each of you carrying your own load? 
No, I'm there to "coach" and assist, and to take over the lecture if needed. It starts with preparing for the lecture and packing it up. In those places where we can rest, we call them shandy, the person sits down and I hold the load so it doesn't fall. In a difficult place I advise how to choose a step, where to stand and how to help myself. If I was carrying a load too, I wouldn't know how to concentrate on the client. I'm there to replace him if he can't make it, because we simply have to get the load to the cottage.
Now let's get to the guiding. There is a hiking guide, a mountain guide and a mountain guide. What is the difference between them? 
A hiking guide should only accompany you on marked trails. A mountain guide can leave that trail without snow cover, can go up to the first degree of climbing difficulty according to the International Association of Mountaineering Associations (UIAA) classification scale. It is therefore the accompaniment of people in mountain and alpine environments without the use of mountaineering equipment, outside of tourist marked trails and routes. And then there is the mountain guide, who can additionally take clients on a climbing tour. Of course, the rule of thumb for everyone is that if a particular area is closed year-round, they can't go there. These are the rules that everyone should follow.
What are the benefits of a mountain guide, when and why should I book their services?  
If you just want to hike, you can go without a guide, but the advantage of a mountain guide is that you will get an interpretation of the terrain, surroundings, history and some interesting facts as a bonus. The theory goes that when I'm going to an area, I should study the visitor regulations, which define what I can visit as a tourist in the summer and what I can visit in the winter. A professional mountain guide guarantees this too. However, there are also tourists who do not prepare and may have problems. They don't study the route, they don't check the weather. When you book a mountain guide for a hike, as a hiker you shouldn't have to worry about anything. The guide knows what hike is a good time to go on and, after consulting with the client, can also recommend where to go based on physical fitness. If anyone is considering whether to use the service of a mountain guide, we are currently offering a 20% discount to members of the MYAPLEND.
Which trail do you recommend in summer with a mountain guide? 
My favourite is Končistá, because we are right next to Gerlachovský štít, we can see the people on Gerlach with your own eyes. It's high mountain hiking with very comparable parameters to climbing Gerlach, we're in open terrain, we have several options of routes that we can take to get to the top and also descend. I always try to take a different route up and a different route down to make it an experience for the client. The total time of the hike depends on which route we choose and also on the group of people. 
Can you give me some practical tips on how to prepare for the hike, what to bring? 
You definitely need to prepare for all weather conditions - take personal belongings, suitable shoes and clothing, those who are used to it can take hiking poles. For example, I wear thin gloves and a hat in summer, we are in the mountains where it can snow even in August. I advise hikers to take the best hiking clothes they have for the mountains, something for the rain, something to change into, something for the cold weather, and of course travel insurance for the mountains should be a must.