Ski touring in the frozen kingdom of Snežnik and its ice sculptures

I always wanted to see the ice kingdom which the winter Mount Snežnik is famous for and possibly ski among the frozen silhouettes. You see, since the mountain is close to the sea (only 28 km), it receives more precipitation, which in combination with strong winds can build incredible ice structures on anything that sticks up the ground. Thus the lodge at the top puts on an otherworldly ice cover, while dwarf pines, which sporadically cover the highest parts of the plateau, turn completely white and resemble an exhibition of art work rather than trees. Really spectacular!

Snežnik in winter, ice, frozen trees

As luck would have it, the weather last Saturday seemed to be sunny everywhere else in Slovenia except for our highest non-Alpine peak, Snežnik, where my husband, our eight-year-old daughter and I arrived after an hour-and-a-half drive from Ljubljana. After a week of planning a hiking/ski touring trip, there was no way we would change the plans then. Sun or no sun, we would stand on that mountain that day! Period.

Snežnik in winter, ice, frozen trees, Slovenia

From our usual trailhead at Sviščaki, a small settlement about 20 km up a curvy forest road from the town of Ilirska Bistrica, the trail is marked for two hours, and climbs up 600 m about of altitude. It’s mostly a pleasant walk through a forest, except for the steeper last part, which gradually drops its cover, with only a dwarf pine tree here and there sporadically interrupting the whiteness of the plateau. Or not. Apparently, the nature’s magic wand had either tilted the pines to the ground and fused them with a thick snow blanket or turned them into icy white sculptures as artistically as only the Mother Nature can.

Frozen trees on the way to Snežnik, Slovenia, winter
As soon as we left the forest, we were greeted by icy pine trees. And fog.
A frozen tree on the way to Snežnik, Slovenia, winter
He says “hello”! 😉
Frozen tree, Snežnik, Slovenia, winter
Fine art is in the details.
Hiking Snežnik in winter, frozen sculptures, Slovenia
The further up we went, the more fascinating and whiter the sculptures, … and denser the fog.
The very top of Snežnik in winter, frozen
The very top of Snežnik.
The very top of Snežnik in winter, frozen
In comparison to two years ago. It seems that winter has its own ways here on Snežnik.

While the frozen landscape lured us to proceed, the extremely thick fog, which intensified with altitude, made our hike quite difficult actually. At one point the fog was so thick, we literally couldn’t see anything; the trail was barely visible, and if we hadn’t walked there a few times before, we would’ve either turned around or got lost. Seriously. Other than our approximate sense of direction and barely visible tracks in the snow, the bad visibility of no more than ten meters added a certain degree of risk to the otherwise easy hike.

The Drago Karolin Lodge at the top of Snežnik, Slovenia
If the views from Snežnik on a sunny day reach as far as Croatia’s Gorski Kotar, the Slovenian Alps, and the sea, we could barely see the Drago Karolin Lodge a few meters from the top.
View from Snežnik of the sea, winter, Slovenia
Not that we had perfect weather two years ago, yet we could still see the sea 28 km away.
Snežnik in winter
Two years ago, the idea was to take our then-six-year-old daughter ski touring for the first time, and, as it turned out, Snežnik was perfect for our ski touring beginner (and not the most skilled skier to be exact)!

Watch our ski touring adventure on Snežnik from two years ago:

Nevertheless, the thick fog at the top made our kiddo’s ski touring challenge a bit unsafe, at least in the open top section. That’s why we walked down the first part and switched to skis a few hundred meters down the trail. And then? Yee-haaaaw! 😀

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One thought on “Ski touring in the frozen kingdom of Snežnik and its ice sculptures

  1. Pingback: Snežnik | Fotografov dnevnik

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