With the early snowfall coloring the peaks of our highest mountains white, my thoughts go back to a special two-day climb in late August to three beautiful mountains in the Julian Alps I was honored to climb with my Dutch-Austrian friend Georg. Originally, we had been planning to climb Triglav over its 1-km high vertical North Face taking the Prag Route on the first day and explore the Triglav Lakes Valley on the second day, but as fate would have it, Slovenia experienced a sudden extreme drop in temperature just a few days before our trip and the mountains above 1,800 m dressed in an unexpected 30-cm snow cover. That called for a quick last-minute change of plan, and instead of climbing the Triglav North Face, we rather opted for the southern slopes of the spectacular mountains on the opposite side of Vrata Valley, also home to the beautiful Alpine ibex.
As much as I boast about Slovenia’s autumns being amazing for mountaineering, there’s still a tiny corner of my soul that’s always a little disappointed when October starts to roll around. The cold sets in, the fog sits low in the valleys until late morning or even early afternoon, the daylight dwindles, it’s too early to ski and can be too late to get up into high mountains after unexpected early snowfall. Yet the colors autumn brings make my heart sing (remember last year’s Kranjska Gora and Kobarid?). Last week, that autumn heart singing got me wandering around Lake Bohinj, searching for the entrance to its best kept secret to the heavenly views and hell of a climb – a via ferrata called Ožarjeni Kamen (Eng. Sunlit Stone).
When making my way across the highest peaks of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps at the beginning of August, I looked 1,500 meters down from the top of Mt. Planjava, and played with the idea of returning to the same Alps, only instead of going up from the south I would set my base in the north, in Logar Valley. Interwoven with breathtaking green trails that usually end somewhere way up in the high mountains, beautiful tranquil trails along the Savinja River and countless little wild streams in the broader Solčava Valley, the 7-kilometer long Logar Valley is by far one of the most picture-perfect glacial valleys in Europe. As it turned out, it was indeed perfect for yet another hiking, via-ferrata and flyfishing adventure.
Looking at the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, a beautiful mountain range closest to Ljubljana, lit in vibrant early morning colors with veils of fog lingering below rugged peaks, I got an ingenious idea I just couldn’t shake off. In a weekend excursion, I would traverse a good part of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps across the peaks I hadn’t climbed yet! With five out of eleven favored peaks already checked, I was looking forward to climbing another set of five peaks in one go; Ojstrica, Planjava, Turska Gora, Koroška Rinka and Skuta – all mountains above 2 K meters, steep, and on my planned route from east to west.
On the hidden slopes of the Julian Alps lies a remarkable kingdom of the legendary Goldhorn, an Alpine ibex with golden horns that had supposedly chased away everyone intruding upon his territory. Today, the rare Alpine ibex continues the Goldhorn’s famed charisma. With only about 300 left in the Slovenian Alps, their awe-inspiring image with horns as long as over a meter earned them the title of the king of the Alpine world. While there’s a big chance meeting a chamois in the Slovenian Alps, finding an ibex generally means knowing its territory well, seeing a large group of ibexes, on the other hand, only means sheer luck.
I’m at that point in summer where I’m itching for mountains every single moment of the day. Sure, there’s the ever so convenient Šmarna Gora, which I’m happy to live within its walking distance, but sometimes I need more. That said, the past month passed venturing out to the Slovenian Alps as many as six times: Tosc, Triglav Lakes (blog), Bogatin and Triglav Lakes (blog), Mala Ojstrica and Lučki Dedec, Stol, and Goli Vrh. While each hike was special, I’m giving you two of my most memorable adventures in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps of the past month which should be on the bucket list for adventurers like yourself as well (with families and dogs included).
The king of the Julian Alps, the highest mountain of Slovenia and an iconic climb for most of the nation, Triglav rules its kingdom of jagged peaks, stunning lakes and deep valleys. Strategically positioned in the heart of Triglav National Park, actually the only national park of Slovenia, its somewhat pointed summit lures the crowds in summer, but the question today is who’s up for the challenge in the snow? Because the reward is simply finger-licking sweet!
Perched between the jagged peaks of the Julian Alps and the Soča Valley, a small settlement of about a thousand carries not only a long history but also incredible landscapes. While Kobarid’s intriguing part of the history, the 1917 Battle of Caporetto, made it actually world renowned with Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, experiencing it in person completely surpasses one’s expectations. It offers a whole pack of outdoor activities, anything from kayaking in the white waters, relaxing on long dusty bike trails, sport climbing, paragliding, to exploring endless trails over small hills and rocky faces of high mountains.
It was early August, so to speak the peak of the mountaineering season for most of the country, and the sun was about to spread its first rays over the sleepy slopes. Besides a few other cars, my husband and I were among the few hikers to go up the highest peak of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps that day, Mount Grintovec.
Somewhere far away from the city bustle, nested among towering mountain peaks, an enchanting green meadow stretches speckled with colorful flowers, and right in the middle of a green patch there is a friendly mountain hut. On its sunny terrace in totally relaxed vibes, a bunch of eager mountaineers share their bold climbing stories over barley porridge called ričet and cold beer while soaking in epic views of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. That’s Kamniško Sedlo.
I saw a brave little boy climb the steep route to Mt. Nanos alone this weekend. As a parent, I was shocked. Truly, guys, who lets their six-year-old climb a mountain alone? Over rocks, pitons and steel cables?
I’ve written about climbing our highest peak over and over and over again. It’s strikingly beautiful and climbing it fills you with indescribable emotions way beyond exhilarated. But then again, Triglav is surprisingly demanding and even in perfect conditions a serious ascent. Experienced climbers describe winter ascents to Slovenia’s highest peak as a true challenge. You want to do it safely? Climb it with a mountain guide. Seriously.
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!
Do you ever have those trips to the same mountain when you continuously fail and need to turn back down over and over again? That was Triglav for us. The otherwise friendly mountain and the pride of every Slovenian can quickly turn an ugly face in less than perfect conditions.
It was one of those situations when you seek spring, only to find harsh winter conditions in the mountains which resemble more to those expected in January and not in the mid-May. The weather this week has been mostly rain, bringing snow in the high mountains. Lots of it. Although snow conditions were anything but stable due to a very thick layer of new snow, our team had been planning an ascent of Triglav for this particular weekend for a long time and thus decided to give it a go regardless of the situation. Anyway, one could always turn around if conditions turned too bad, right?
Storzic, Dec. 2, 5026 Ft / 1532 m elevation gain, 6 hours car – top- car. At 2132 m / 6994 Ft high it is one of the highest mountains in the Slovenian Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
I used to hike mountains all the time, on weekends, after work, during holidays, or whenever there was an opportunity. Now, times are a bit different. With two little rascals on my back, we prefer small hills rather than great peaks, and even those usually turn into long and tiring daily trips. This time, I took a day off work, dropped the kids in day care and school, and started off to one of my favorite mountains, Storzic. It felt amazing.