Triglav: finally getting it right

There’d been several attempts this year to conquer it, but failed (remember Ski touring below the Triglav North Face, Climbing Triglav in spring and The third try?). Not by much; yet still standing at the top of the second of the two highest peaks doesn’t quite measure up to that sweet feeling of actually reaching the summit, does it? A fourth attempt based on a spontaneous idea from a day before surprisingly succeeded. Not only succeeded, but it excelled so greatly it can be easily placed on my top five hikes of all times!

Triglav: finally getting it right

It started as an innocent email from my friend Barbara asking about possible trails to Triglav I would suggest for first timers. Both Barbara and her partner Roman had just won over a big monster from the past – finally finished graduation – and wanted to treat themselves to something extraordinary. As they hadn’t been to Triglav yet, they figured climbing the by-then unattainable mountain would symbolically continue doing the impossible. I humbly offered to be their guide. As it turned out, they were happy to take on a fifth wheel who knew the trail well. The start of the hike? The next day!

The first section starts in a forest and then passes two open alpine meadows below towering mountains.
The first section starts in a forest and then passes two open alpine meadows below towering mountains.
Approaching an alpine meadow called Zgornja Krma with its little hut Prgarca.
Approaching an alpine meadow called Zgornja Krma with its little hut Prgarca.

First things first; having had my share of bad weather in the mountains, I checked the weather forecast for Triglav with none other than the weather guy at Kredarica, the mountain hut just below the great peak, and it looked like we were looking at more or less stable conditions for the next two days. Perfect!

We left Ljubljana at 7.30 a.m. and headed towards Krma, a beautiful glacial valley in the midst of steep rocky faces of high mountains. The first couple of miles passed quickly as we chatted about life lately and what we’d missed out since the last time we met a couple of months ago. Before we knew it, the most monotonous part of the trail through the forest was behind us and we almost got to the alpine meadow Zgornja Krma and its little wooden hut Prgarca. The good weather forecast soon evaporated as it started drizzling and then at a higher altitude even snowing. What worried us actually more than light snowing actually was the dense fog that had crept in and hid the mountains behind its veil.

He says he trained gymnastics as a kid. Nice, huh?!
He says he trained gymnastics as a kid. Nice, huh?!
Ascending over Kalvarija to Kredarica. Photo by: Exploring Slovenia.
The winding trail slowly ascending over Kalvarija.

The winding trail slowly ascending over Kalvarija.

I'm definitely enrolling my kids in gymnastics!
I’m definitely enrolling my kids in gymnastics!

Being the shoulder season, the crowds were non-existent. We met a young couple going our direction and a small group of day hikers returning from Kredarica, disappointed for not being able to summit that day due to bad visibility. Thankfully, we packed our sleeping bags and extra food that would allow us to extend our trip to two days if needed.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you, little greedy birdie! First there was one and we gave him a tiny bite of bread. Then came the whole flock. I could feel them unwrapping my sandwich with those hungry little eyes :)
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you, little greedy birdie! First there was one and we gave him a tiny bite of bread. Then came the whole flock. I could feel them unwrapping my sandwich with those hungry little eyes 🙂

And yet, one look at Triglav made us realize that our extra equipment would come in handier than ever. The clouds around the peak had become dense and visibility so poor we decided to wait it out a bit in the mountain hut at Kredarica rather than trying our luck with the summit. The best part of spending time in the mountains with friends? We chatted, played cards, came up with alternative plans in case the weather did not improve, and then at about 4.30 p.m., when it became clear Triglav would have to wait until the next morning, switched to happy tea with home-made Jägermeister.

Just below Kredarica.
Just below Kredarica.
And Triglav is where exactly?
And Triglav is where exactly?
We spent the rest of the day in great company having great fun. Cheers!
We spent the rest of the day in great company having great fun. Cheers!

Not only did the early start of the next day not show improvement in clearer visibility, but it might have even deteriorated a bit. A short walk uphill the Kredarica peak got me completely disoriented and if it hadn’t been for the noise coming from a windmill, I couldn’t possibly have guessed which direction was right to return back to the hut. Being optimistic as ever, we waited for another hour outside, while a few fellow hikers had even started to return back down. Then, all of a sudden there it was … a view for the gods.

Sunrise as seen from Kredarica

Early morning at Kredarica

As they say - everything comes to those who wait. So true.
As they say – everything comes to those who wait. So true.

After quick ham and eggs and even faster packing, we headed towards the highest peak in Slovenia. High spirited, but to tell you the truth, also pretty nervous as I felt my friends, who weren’t particularly comfortable with the climbing part especially in icy conditions, relied on me as the most experienced of the gang. What brought a certain degree of mental comfort were two groups of hikers in front of us, guided by the Štremfelj duo, the first married couple to climb Mt. Everest together. If anything went wrong, we had perfect backup not far away.

Ascending to Triglav

Are you getting that climbing itch as well? — at Triglav, 2864m.
Are you getting that climbing itch as well? — at Triglav, 2864m.

Ascending to Triglav.

It was a huge relief to see my fellow fighters progress safely towards the top. After an hour and a half, we even caught up with the Štremfelj groups and reached the summit together. It felt incredible, a new kind of triumph I’d never felt before – I led two of my closest friends to the top of Slovenia and they actually survived! 🙂

We made it! The highest point of Slovenia!
We made it! The highest point of Slovenia!

What followed was the inevitable. I took a piece of rope in my hands and hit the poor guys on their tired behinds. An ingrained tradition I was more than happy to follow {evil grin}. After taking a beating from my side, the poor suckers took yet another beating. This time, it was by no other than Marija Štremfelj, the best Slovenian woman alpinist and the only Slovenian woman who’s ever been to Mt. Everest. That was so cool I was definitely tempted to bend on my knees as well. 😉

Just a normal scene at the top of Triglav. Someone posing at the Aljaž tower, two taking a selfie, women hitting men on their behinds, nothing unusual on that side.
Just a normal scene at the top of Triglav. Someone posing at the Aljaž tower, two taking a selfie, women hitting men on their behinds, nothing unusual on that side.

We made it! The highest point of Slovenia!

Their first time to Triglav.

Truthfully, I’d walked the solitary path countless times and it felt nice. It was mostly about me and getting somewhere fast. Never before, however, had I actually enjoyed shifting to a lower gear, walking slowly and thoroughly absorbing the moment. We worked and hiked as a team, and not just as another team, but as three friends having the best time of their lives. It felt like I finally got it right.

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