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).
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!
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!
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.
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.