SMT Chapter 6: We Bailed Out of The Julian Alps

And that’s why this post is rather short…

Day 18: On The Top of Slovenia

We shared our room at Aljazev dom (mountain hut) in the Vrata Valley with the two American girls we had met a few days earlier at the party hut. However, M and I started early, so we didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to them. At 6:00 a.m., we left the hut and hiked in the semi-darkness towards Triglav. The path initially led relatively flat through the valley until it gradually snaked up the northern flank of the Triglav Massif. And by steep, I mean an ascent of 1500 meters in 5 km. We put on helmets and climbing harnesses because the route included some secured and steep sections.

After a few hundred meters of ascent, the beautiful and green Vrata Valley stretched behind us, with the fog from the night’s rain still lingering. The sun shone sideways into the valley, making the clouds shimmer in the golden light. The few hours of good weather felt like a reconciliation after the last few days of hiking in fog and rain.

We climbed and climbed, on a continuously steep and rocky path, later crossing some scree fields. The good weather we had in the morning bid us farewell around 10:00 a.m. When we reached the hut below the Triglav summit (Triglavski dom na Kredarici), it had unfortunately disappeared into the clouds again. We warmed up briefly in the hut and discussed whether we should ascend Triglav today or tomorrow. The weather was not good for either today or tomorrow, so we decided to continue the ascent after a snack break.

We left our backpacks in the hut and embarked on the via ferrata towards the Triglav summit. From start to finish, we climbed in dense fog, so there were no views at the top whatsoever. The ascent along the ridge was somehow less frightening too, as we couldn’t see how far it went down right beside the trail. The biggest advantage of climbing Triglav in clouds is that there’s not as much “traffic.” This mountain is like the Slovenian Mt. Everest, you’ll just not freeze to death waiting in the line to summit, but you might have a very bad time.

At the summit, we sat huddled in our rain jackets and gloves, hoping the clouds would at least briefly clear up. After some time, we gave up hope and descended back to the hut.

We took a selfie with the „Aljazev Stolp“ – something like the summit cross of Triglav. It is a storm shelter and triangulation point and together with Triglav itself, an important landmark of Slovenia

We spent the rest of the day indoors, either writing blog posts or reading. I only went out quickly to cook something but the flame of my stove was blown out from the wind several times, and up here at this elevation, it took me 20 minutes to get water to boil.

We slept in the 44-bed dormitory where everyone inevitably cuddled closely (involuntarily). I went to sleep at 8:00 p.m. and surprisingly slept well.

Distance: 9 km; +1800; – 326

Day: Bailing out because of Storms – Attempting a Flip-Flop

Early in the morning, before we started hiking, I caught a brief glimpse of the rising sun, but it quickly disappeared into some dense clouds.

As always, we started early, but just like yesterday, we had great visibility of about 20 meters. We descended a few hundred meters from Triglavski dom na Kredarici when suddenly it started to rain. Moreover, the wind picked up significantly, and it became bitterly cold. M went ahead, and I focused on trying to stay warm somehow. The wind whipped around, and my wet rain jacket clung to my equally wet body – it was uncomfortable. We hiked as fast as we could until we reached Koča na Doliču, which we arrived at around 10:00 a.m.

No pictures of the actual storm, because my phone was too wet to take pictures. You have to believe me how bad it was

Fortunately, the rain had stopped again, and we sat in the hut to discuss the rest of the day over a cup of coffee. We were both soaking wet and frustrated with the bad weather. Well, it’s just part of the experience when you’re out in the mountains for so long, but it had been six consecutive days without any improvement. In the Karawanks, we had no view from a single summit, and the same was true so far in the Triglav National Park.

We had no reception in the hut, so we asked the girl at the bar about the weather forecast. She told us that we definitely shouldn’t attempt to climb Bovški Gamsovec today, and for tomorrow, 60 mm of precipitation was expected. Either way, we would be stuck for at least two days. Even after that, there would be rain, but at least not such strong storms. Our planned route for tomorrow would be 22 km long, leading over two high peaks (Razor and Prisank, both around 2500 m), with no opportunity for shelter or shortcut. After carefully considering our options, we decided to descend to Trenta, a small town in the valley and approach the route from the opposite direction.

We took a bus to Kranjska Gora, then another to Ljubljana, and finally to Ankaran – the actual endpoint of our hike. Our new plan was to start at the sea and hike back to the Triglav National Park, hoping for better weather then.

In Ljubljana, M bought new socks and a pocketknife in a cute tiny mountaineering shop. Then we had lunch at a vegan restaurant and boarded the bus to Ankaran. From there, we had a 25-minute walk to our hostel. As we got off the bus, warm coastal air greeted us. It was humid and still very warm even at 7:30 p.m. I was sweaty after walking to the hostel and looked forward to a cold shower.

Along the way we saw many fruits like kiwis, grapes, peaches, olives, and even artichokes. Man, I’m gonna pick some stuff while hiking, that’s for sure.

At night I collected around 100 mosquito bites all over my body, these tiny little beasts haven’t been around until now, so it was hard to sleep with being itchy everywhere.

Distance: 21 km; +177 m; -2066 m

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Comments 1

  • Jure : Aug 25th

    Too bad for the weather, this year has been horrendous. I guess climate change is really starting to bite our ass


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