Beginner winter climb in the Slovenian Alps: Mala Mojstrovka

{A disclaimer for the wise: conditions in the mountains can change very quickly, therefore plan your climb accordingly; read about the planned route, check the avalanche reports, the amount of snow in the mountains, and reports about the temperature and wind changes, consult with mountain guides and local climbers,…}

As crocuses, primroses and spring snowflakes awake from the hard soil and the nature in the valleys begins to pick up more vibrant hues of blue and green, the mountains continue to stand firmly their winter ground in the face of the awakening spring. You drive to them in perfect sunshine, but end up climbing in temperatures way below freezing with occasional snow blizzards and fierce wind chills. Yet, the freezing temperatures make the snow stable and awesome for some serious winter ascents, and that’s what counts when you’re slowly battling your way up on the steep snow glazed slopes.

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The peak on the brink of the accessible

IN Adventure , Alps , Hiking , Julian Alps , Mojstrana , mountaineering , mountains , Winter hiking

Through the window of a car, I remember being awestruck as a child by the serrated outline of a rugged mass of rock and snow, usually shrouded  in a swirl of clouds, towering over Gozd Martuljek’s green and vibrant landscape. Later I learned that the Martuljek Mountain Group is the remotest and wildest part of the Julian Alps with only two mountains accessible on marked and secured trails. Other peaks, all over 2K, quietly watching the world from their solitary abode, remain a place for experienced mountaineers, comfortable with climbing and manoeuvering through the labyrinth of faint tracks.

Many years later I am still awestruck; so much that entering that mystical world seems like a far-fetched unattainable adventure that only exists in dreams. Particularly so in winter. Coming close to it to catch a glimpse of the elusive beauty and absorb the grandeur is another matter. And there is no peak closer than Vrtaško Sleme, which at its 2,077 meters brings you so close to the Martuljek Group it seems like you can almost touch its first peak Kukova Špica.

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Chasing the sun and views in the Karawanks: from Stol to Belščica

IN Adventure , Alps , Hiking , Karavanke , Karawanks , mountaineering

As the very last tourist has left Bled, and this enchanting little town seems almost too big for an occasional jogger or a couple enjoying the promenade around the lake, its nature has never looked more amazing and, best of all, more tranquil. The hazy fog colors light yellow as I drive through the sleepy town, and the forest around the lake looks pleasantly vibrant in the fresh morning sun that manages to peep through the fog. I’m tempted to make a stop to absorb this autumn scene, but the tour I had opted for in the Western Karavanke Mountains would be long and we’d need every minute of the dwindling daylight. 

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Getting into the mountaineering mode with the Pokljuka’s classics

IN Hiking , Julian Alps , mountaineering , summer , training

It seems to me that the mountains are the greatest source of excitement, fun, energy and visual beauty. They are the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living. The pulse quickens, the heart pumps, the mind searches for all kinds of excuses—and then, in one impetuous, soul-soaring moment, we say, “I’m going to do this!” And off we go.

As we switch to summer hiking mode and follow the calls of the rugged mountainous world, it’s necessary that we’ve already done our share of physical and mental preparations beforehand. This year, after a few more or less stagnant months due to the coronavirus, when mountains were completely off the chart, preparations for mountaineering seem more important than ever!

Climbing a via ferrata in Mt. Raduha
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Hiking the gorgeous Karawanks: Veliki Vrh and Kofce

IN Adventure , Alps , Hiking , Karavanke , Karawanks , mountaineering , mountains , Slovenia , Winter

As much as I tout the Julian Alps as being amazing and unique in their beauty, there’s still that corner of my heart that jumps for joy for their south-facing neighboring mountain range, the Karawanks. Stretching 120 kilometers from east to west and serving as an actual border between Slovenia and Austria, the Karawanks offer mostly sunny hiking, remarkable wild flowers in late spring and huts with traditional mountain food. To be honest, the alluring setting couldn’t be more ideal, especially on a beautiful winter day.

And we’ve seen many of those over the past few weeks!

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Hiking in a winter fairy tale above Kranjska Gora: Mt. Cipernik

Serene and tranquil, rising high above Kranjska Gora, this mountain hides under a thick layer of virgin fluffy snow, its top unveiling unspoiled Alpine vistas, never-ending rolling hills, and “the mother of all ski jumping hills” Planica. Yet this lonely 1,745-meter peak is not only a forest hike with only stunning views at the top. Cipernik is adorned with a mysterious “Black cave”, numerous viewpoints, a meadow with a mountain hut, a rock arch formation with a naturally occurring window, and a perfect 6-7-hour round route. Want to hear the crazy part? You can *literally* hike it from the cute little alpine town of Kranjska Gora.

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Climbing Triglav in the summer on the favored route

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!

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Hiking in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Ojstrica

Traversing the Kamnik-Savinja Alps across the highest peaks

IN Central Slovenia , Hiking , Kamnik-Savinja Alps , mountaineering

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.

The Kamnik-Savinja Alps for sunrise
The Kamnik-Savinja Alps for sunrise as seen from Šmarna Gora

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