It’s the connection we have with nature and mountains, wandering steps into the unknown, carpets of colourful flowers along the trail, drifting clouds over towering peaks, and huge expanses to rest your gaze upon. It’s a way of life, and something all outdoor loving parents would wish to pass onto their children; but the question is: are your children ready to endure some mountain climbing? If you’re dreaming about conquering Triglav, the highest mountain of Slovenia with your child... you should know that you’re not alone and that there are many ways to climb it safely.
First of all, Triglav should not be taken lightly by any means. It’s the mountain with the highest number of accidents and deaths in Slovenia; perhaps due to its almost pilgrimage attraction, perhaps because of the wide spectrum of visitors – anything from occasional hikers, families, trail runners to experienced mountaineers, or perhaps because of the pure fact that accidents simply do happen. The open and bare ridge with steel cable also doesn’t help during thunderstorms, which can quickly turn into a trap for those who mistakenly underestimate the power of nature. A rule of thumb? Take the climb seriously, use the safety gear, regularly check for weather updates, plan and leave some space for the unpredictable factors, and, most of all, do the climb slowly and safely. If you don’t feel adequately experienced, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Seriously.
Opt for an appropriate route
There are many routes that will take you up to Triglav. You can choose anything from easier scenic trails with huts on the way (e.g. Triglav from Pokljuka), long but gorgeous trails along the seven Triglav lakes, long, hard and pretty deserted climbing routes that cross the Triglav North Face (e.g. the Slovenian Route), a sort of via ferrata across the Triglav North Face but secured only over crucial parts (Bamberg Route), and climbing routes that conquer other mountain tops as a cherry on top (e.g. Rjavina and Triglav climb). Some of the routes are shorter, others longer; some more exposed and others less exposed; some do a little over 1,600 meters of ascent and some more than 2,000 meters; some have huts on the way and some don’t.
Opt for the route that fits your child the most, and, most importantly, go check it out yourself first - photos you see online might tell one side of the story, but seeing the route in person might reveal other aspects too.
Split the trip into two days
Seriously, don’t try to beat your speed record with a child in tow. Split the climb into two or even three days, and enjoy the adventure rather than rush it. There are many huts in those parts of the Alps, so why not take an advantage of that? And while at it, you might find out that you can share the beautiful moments of seeing a gorgeous sunset or even a sunrise with your kid too!
The list of huts that you can choose to spend the night in: Triglavski dom na Kredarici Hut, Planika Hut, Dolič Hut, Staničev Dom Hut, Zasavska koča na Prehodavcih Hut, Koča pri Triglavskih Jezerih Hut, and Vodnikov Dom na Velem Polju Hut.
Bring plenty of food and water
No matter how you look at it, it’s a pretty long way up and down Triglav. A little reminder before tackling almost 2,000 m of ascent and descent: your pace will be exactly as fast as the pace of the weakest link in your little group, so stock up! An alternative to dragging along loads of food and water since your backpack will also be full of climbing gear for you and your kids: make yourself a favor and select a route with a mountain hut on the way - trust me that you’ll appreciate a fixed lunch and a restock of your water reserves. A hint for the wise: the only mountain hut in that area with free potable water is the Vodnikov Dom Hut half way up from Pokljuka.
Plan according to the weather forecast
Check a couple of weather apps and local forecasts for the Julian Alps (e.g. ARSO’s mountain bulletin) and adjust your hiking and climbing plans accordingly. If the forecast says possible thunderstorms in the afternoon, start the adventure early and try to be in a hut or back in the valley at least two hours before the forecasted worsening of the weather.
Use climbing gear
Keep in mind that good climbing gear could literally save your life or the life of your kids. You’ll both need a climbing helmet (skip using other types of helmets like a cycling helmet because those are made to withstand other types of crashes), a climbing harness (kids are recommended to wear a full body climbing harness), a via ferrata set (kids under 40 kg should instead be secured with a rope and not rely only on their own via ferrata set), and a climbing sling with a locking carabiner used for extra safety when taking a rest during the climb.
Important note: do not attempt the climb without adequate knowledge, skills and gear!
Lastly and probably most importantly, get some mountaineering skills before tackling Triglav. Use any opportunity to get you and your kid in shape, and try to practise a bit of rock climbing on easier via ferratas just to get a feel for exposure and your climbing gear. Going for the real thing prepared will give you the confidence and skills to climb Triglav like a pro. 😎 Good luck and enjoy the adventure!
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