I’ve made it no secret that the Julian Alps are one of my favorite corners of Slovenia. Remote and rugged mountainous landscapes full of pinnacles, huge rocks scattered along open trails, vertical walls and dense forests. I love them. That’s why I was thrilled beyond words to return there in September after a busy summer only to experience the most unforgettable adventures. The three-day traverse from Bohinj to the Soča Valley was simply gorgeous, but the two Triglav climbs definitely packed more adrenaline. Exciting times!
While I’d climbed Mt. Triglav, the highest mountain of Slovenia, many times, three times this year alone, each and every climb was unique. Nevertheless, comparing them in terms of weather conditions and the number of visitors, June and early July might have seen fewer people on the trail and in the huts, however, they tended to be less favorable in regard to the weather. Yet with the afternoon thunderstorms slowly subsiding by the late August and September, people then overflowed the mountain huts and the trail, particularly the section winding up to the peak from the Kredarica or Planika huts.
Conditions aside, I simply love the fresh clean smell of the air there and the endless views of the mountains that gradually disappear in the distance. It’s paradise for me which I loved to share with a nice couple form the UK this September, and my ten-year old daughter (!) two weeks later (coming up in the following blog).
We met with Patricia and Pete on a brisk morning of a sunny day, all happy to head towards our first mountain adventure together. A serious one, too: we would climb Mt. Triglav from Pokljuka, conquering the top of Slovenia on the probably most scenic route. The morning fog was still lingering above us, giving us the well needed shade on an otherwise unusually warm mid-September day.
Two thirds on the way to our first hut for the lunch, somewhere on a narrow trail across steep slopes of Mt. Tosc, a few shepherds were slowly finishing their job in the mountains, trying to get their herd of cows back down to the valley. The cows had been grazing in Velo Polje, the highest lying active meadow in Slovenia at almost 1,700 m. The meadow is part of the important Bohinj Alpine dairy farming where about 1,000 cows come to various Alpine meadows each summer.
After a good lunch at the Vodnik Hut, an idyllic hut named after the Slovenian priest and poet Valentin Vodnik, who climbed Mt. Triglav just 15 years after the first ascent in 1778, we headed towards the Kredarica Hut at 2,515 m. As anticipated, the hut turned out to be packed and everyone contributed to create a real live party by playing guitars, singing to the cheerful rhythms of the Slovenian countryside music, and sharing “healthy” home-brewed drinks. Then off to a communal bedroom…
The thing about crowded huts is that you have to share the room with a group of equally if not more enthusiastic mountaineers unless you book a private room well in advance. And as lucky as I was to sleep alone in a double bed (thanks so much to the hut-keepers!), the fellow roommates’ alarms kept going off continuously from 3.30 a.m. until 5.50 a.m., when it finally seemed that the whole room woke up and I was left with no other choice but to get up myself too. Yaaawn! Nonetheless, it was more than worth it.
After a theatrical show of the sun rising above the peaks of the Julian Alps, I returned back to the hut and found Pat and Pete not looking too happy about their night either. I guess mountain huts in the peak season aren’t generally the most relaxing place to spend the night. It happens. Nevertheless, the day that followed couldn’t have been more gorgeous or just plain divine.
As we slowly approached the via ferrata section of the climb, our fantastic IFMGA-license guide Miha prepared the two first-timers to Triglav, Alison, a newly acquired cool friend from the hike, and Patricia, for the final ascent. We strapped on the climbing harness and helmets and got a quick debriefing of how the safety system works.
Ready to go, we started our climb.
Our excitement was high as we started out, yet naturally mixed with a pinch of anxiety of the unknown vertical world ahead. We progressed, absorbed in discovering the history of the mountain, the first attempts and conquests, so we slowly shed all our fears, and started to enjoy the climb.
Every time we turned around we were faced with these views!
We reached the top reasonably fast, celebrated our great adventure, and introduced our exhilarated but puzzled new climbers to the weird mountaineering customs in Slovenia. According to old customs, anyone who climbs Triglav for their first time, gets whipped on their behind three times. 😅
After refueling a bit back in the Kredarica Hut, we headed down to the valley. Despite the increasingly spectacular views, we knew our adventure was coming to an end. We took in the final views of the valley and the towering mountains around it through a thin larch forest that just started to gold.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back!
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