Up to Triglav over its North Face and down to the Krma Valley

There’s certain allure of climbing Slovenia’s highest mountain, particularly over its grand Triglav North Face, a 3-km wide and 1-km high vertical face with paint blazes marking only a few of about a hundred, mostly alpine routes to Triglav. Our small group of four ventured out there the last weekend in June only to return with incredible stories to tell and even more amazing pictures to show. If I had to caption our trip in three words, it would be sun, thunderstorms and fun.

But before I tell the story, let Chris take us up Triglav over the Prag Route. Thanks Chris and Miha for helping create this amazing video!

Let the story begin…
It was five friends, one of whom had never been to Triglav before, one with little hiking experience in the last ten years, a Spanish guy with Triglav tattooed on his arm but with no real experience in high mountains, my husband, who otherwise hikes regularly but does high mountains on rare occasions, and me, so to speak, the most experienced of the gang. With our Triglav team downsized by the most eager member just an hour before our departure – you guessed it, the tattooed guy, it was four friends off to a great new adventure. Our plan was to climb up to Kredarica over the Prag Route on Saturday, spend a nice evening in the hut, reach the summit of Triglav early in the morning, and then go quickly down the Krma Route before the storms rolled in at noon, as forecast.

A group of hikers in the Vrata Valley and behind the Triglav North Face
The Prag Route starts by the Aljaž Hut in the Vrata Valley and is nicely marked throughout.

We started the hike relatively late at about 9 a.m. from the Vrata Valley. What we had done beforehand was much appreciated the day after; we had driven to the Krma Valley in two cars, left one at our predicted finish line, and drove together to the neighboring valley Vrata to our trailhead. Why? Wanting to make our trip diverse and safe, while also considering the forecasted early storms on Sunday, going up a spectacular yet precipitous route and down an easier and safer route seemed like a good plan.

Two hikers going up to Triglav over the Prag Route

Going up the Prag Route
The Prag Route, arguably the easiest route crossing the Triglav North Face, and as such appropriate for intermediate hikers up (or beginners with a mountain guide), traverses the remarkable kingdom of the legendary Goldhorn. It’s high, hard and spectacular. In those 15 kilometers, it first ascends 1,500 meters to the Kredarica Hut, the highest lying mountain hut in the Slovenian Alps, and then another 350 meters further up to the very top of Slovenia, Triglav. If you’re into adrenaline but prefer adventures that are safe, then the Prag Route is perfect for you.

The hardest part of the Prag route - a 20-meter vertical climb.
The hardest part of the route – a 20-meter vertical climb.
Climbing up to Triglav over the Prag Route
While it looks dangerous and extremely steep in the pictures, you hardly even notice that during the climb.
A female hiker climbing up to Triglav over the Prag Route
It’s steep alright, but safely secured over precipitous parts.
Climbing up to Triglav over the Prag Route
Looking back leaves you speechless, guaranteed.
Hiking up to Triglav
Via ferrata to Mt. Rjavina is supposed to be really nice and panoramic, so how about that for my next climb?

Climbing Triglav up the Prag Route

About two thirds into the hike, right after climbing out the steeper parts of the trail, we passed a group of adult and baby chamois wandering around the vast area of Triglav Plateaus (Triglavski podi). If I’m used to super shy deer, chamois are a different sort. While they won’t allow being approached too quickly or petted for that matter, they’re usually not bothered by human presence, especially if you go by quietly and slowly. One chamois even paid me a visit when I was hiding behind big rocks taking a pee and curiously observed funny things humans do (so much for the privacy! 😉).

A chamois in Julian Alps, Triglav National Park
The chamois is one of the few big animal species living this high in the Triglav National Park.

A chamois in Julian Alps, Triglav National Park

A chamois in Julian Alps, Triglav National Park

A young chamois in Julian Alps, Triglav National Park

On Kredarica
When we reached the Kredarica Hut, the weather changed from sunny to cloudy with a strong wind and sporadic rain persisting all afternoon until night. We held off the summit until the next morning and set the alarm clock for 4.30 a.m.

A hiker on Kredarica
Just as the weather started turning bad with thunder striking over 5 times within an hour, we were relieved to reach the Kredarica Hut.
Hikers on Kredarica
Soon it got windy and cold with a constant drizzle, so we postponed the summit until the next morning.
Friends toasting in the Kredarica Huts
This is not too bad either. Cheers! 😀

Triglav: to head for the summit or not?
Although the weather did improve overnight, it was far from idyllic. With big thunderstorms quickly rolling in from Italy, our chances for reaching the summit were scarce and bound to that one shot in the early morning before running back down to the Krma Valley, where we had left our second car. We headed for the summit at 5.10 and climbed almost to the top of Mali Triglav when a small thunderstorm got so close we could hear its thunder loud and clear, while it also started raining. Between heading for the peak and safety, we chose the latter and returned back down to the Kredarica Hut to wait out until the rain stopped.

Climbing up to Triglav

Climbing up to Triglav

Going down the Krma Route
At 6.20 it cleared up a bit and we set off to the Krma Valley to be past the exposed parts before the big thunderstorms finally arrived. Luckily, the Krma Route is easy with no steep climbs, which allows a quick safe retreat if needed, plus a small bivouac Prgarca somewhere in the middle of the way that can serve as a shelter if need be.

Going down from Kredarica to the Krma Valley

Going down from Kredarica to the Krma Valley

The Upper Krma Valley

If the four of us were in a hurry back down and one could actually be down in less than three hours without stops, one member soon started experiencing aches in his knees and so the descent extended to four hours with the last hour walking in the rain. But just as the thunderstorm escalated to a full 10 on a scale from 1-10, we entered a local restaurant Psnak, ordered hot tea and a mushroom soup and toasted a weekend well spent and yet another awesome adventure in Slovenia’s spectacular Alps.

Interested in how the conditions turned out for a group of hikers making their ascent up Krma just then? Watch this video posted by Vertical Adventures Slovenia. All I can say is Good luck!

A major thunderstorm passing Slovenia
That’s the massive thunderstorm passing Slovenia on Sunday. The little crosses are lightning strikes.

As they say the mountain can wait.

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