#7 – Triglav – Slovenia

By Matthias / 28summits on 2014.08.15 In Alpine Boot Camp 2014 The 28Summits Challenge

To call Triglav a mountain is an understatement, at least for Slovenians, Triglav is much more, it is a national treasure. Milan Kučan, the first president of the Republic of Slovenia, once said it is the duty of every Slovenian to climb Triglav at least once in their life. The mountain can even be found on the flag of Slovenia. But the highest point of Slovenia and the Julian Alps is not only popular among Slovenians, but also among masses of other mountain enthusiasts climbing the mountain every year. As one of the highlights of the Alpine Boot Camp this year we added one more crazy German guy to the list of successful visitors.

(Based on the following file under creative commons license)

Many ways lead to Triglav

In preparation for the ascent of Triglav I informed myself as much as possible. The book about the highest peaks in Europe had pretty good descriptions of some routes and on summitpost.org I could find some more. The bottom line was that one would not reach the summit without following via ferrata sections that would be quite exposed. In the first week of the Alpine Boot Camp I was accompanied by my good friend Kai. One of my goals was to work on his fear of heights during our time in the mountains. That worked quite well the rest of the week, but on Triglav I knew he would not be able to come along until the summit. I wanted to take him along as much of the way as possible, so the first thing we did in Mojstrana was to get a proper map of the Triglav area and some tips on the easiest routes.Triglav_1

There are several valleys surrounding Triglav with the most popular being Vrata, Kot and Krma. The traditional routes up to Triglav start in the Vrata valley under the north face of the mountain. The easiest route however starts in the Krma valley, but it is also among the longest routes to the summit. The only really exposed part of that trail would be the final section to the summit starting at the mountain hut Triglavski dom.

The tourist tours up this route usually take two days. One day ascent to the mountain hut and the second day used for the summit and the descent. We planned on doing it in a day, so we checked online for estimated times for the round trip. As the estimates ranged from 12-15 hours, we prepared ourselves for an early start packed with gear and food for a long day and nasty weather.

Up, up and away

We took the car along a stony forest trail up the valley until we found the parking grounds at the end of the road. We left the car behind and started our adventure at 7.45 am and on a height of around 950m with 1,900m height difference to the summit. The first few kilometers lead through a dense forest and slowly leads up through the valley.Triglav_2

The ascent is not too step in the beginning and the scenery between and behind the trees is amazing. One constantly walks below a massive limestone cliff that must provide some great climbing routes. Between the pieces of dense forest there are smaller meadows above 1,100m that offer a great view of the surrounding mountain ranges.Triglav_3

Triglav was my first ultra mountain for quite a while and despite my running workouts I could feel it. I do not know if it was our pace or my general bad endurance, but we needed to take a few breaks up the mountain. If it would not have been for Kai pushing me to keep going and taking shorter breaks, I am not sure if I would have made it up the summit. This picture pretty much sums up the emotions while we went up the first section to the summit of Triglav:Triglav_4

Eventually the temperatures cooled down a bit and the ascent became a bit smoother, so the going became easier. After a while the tree line was slowly retreating and the surroundings become rockier. After a while we also met the first cows lining the trail and inspecting us thoroughly while we passed by.Triglav_5

On our way up we did not meet any fellow hikers within the first few hours, but this way we could enjoy the beautiful scenery even more:Triglav_7

The trail up to the summit is generally well marked with a red and white dot and other markers along the way. This however did not keep us from loosing the trail at some point going up a steep scree slope between snow fields. We followed a route that the GPS device indicated and climbed up the scree slope.Triglav_8

At some point we had to cross a very steep snow field. The runout area of the snow field was mainly snow, but falling could have been dangerous after all. This gave me a great opportunity to test the step kicking skills of my new Hanwag Sirius GTX boots. As expected they worked out great for kicking steps in the hard snow, but it still took us quite a while to pass the snow field. Shortly after the snow field we discovered a sign post in the distance and eventually found the trail again. Once we reached the trail again, it was time for a short break and some snacks.Triglav_9

The rocky path to the top

While we climbed up the final few hundred meters to the mountain hut, the fog was drawing in more and more. When we reached the hut it was stuck in the fog and seemed quite deserted. But as we came closer we met the first fellow hikers and within we found more and more. Triglav_10

At the hut we took another break, had some snacks and I left some gear with Kai, who stayed behind to have a fun time with the Slovenian hikers. For safety reasons I put on my ferrata kit and climbing helmet as I read a lot about the hazard of rock falls caused by the masses that go up the summit. The conditions did not get better so it was not surprising that I was alone when embarking on the final ascent to the summit. From the hut the trail leads into a small valley and then up again a steep snow field and even steeper rock face. Along this via ferrata the climb goes quite fast and when the fog gives you a chance, one can even spot the valleys below.Triglav_11

The trail gets quite steep in some sections, but is generally secured with iron ropes or bolts in the rock face. In some parts of the route one has to resort to scrambling while going up to Mali Triglav, the smaller brother of Triglav that one passes along the way.Triglav_12

Between Mali Triglav and Triglav one has to cross a narrow and exposed ridge secured by an iron handrail. In general the via ferrata does not really demand a ferrata kit, but it is advisable, especially if you are not used to walking in such steep terrain. Along the way up the summit several people passed me, but only a few wore helmets or even ferrata kits. Considering how much some of them clung to the handrail, I think it could have been a safer option to rent one in the valley. Furthermore, while ascending one passes several memorial plaques commemorating people who had fatal accidents. This should be a vital reminder to use safety gear to have an enjoyable and safe trip up to the summit.Triglav_13

After crossing the narrow ridge the steep final ascent to the summit begins. On top of Triglav there is a small hut with a painted panorama of the surrounding mountain ranges within. Because of the fog I could not enjoy this view and started the descent after taking the mandatory summit selfie.Triglav_14

The descent led me directly into the fog again, but the trail is well marked and secured with iron ropes or bolts.Triglav_15

Even though I do not look happy on the following picture, I really enjoyed finally having a view after the clouds opened up a bit.Triglav_16

After passing Mali Triglav again and descending some more I reached the initial snow field again. Kai was already expecting me and spotted my orange helmet when I was coming out of the fog.Triglav_17

There and back again

In the mountain hut I put my climbing gear back into the pack and had a drink with Kai in the crowded bar. Outside of the hut the rain started pouring, so we put on our rain jackets and started the descent down into the Krma valley. After a while the rain stopped and we kept descending into the foggy valley.Triglav_18

We chose to follow the trail this time to avoid going down the steep scree field. The trail was not very steep, but because of that it also took us a while to get down to the tree line again.Triglav_19

The fog cleared up more and more the deeper we came into the valley. We managed to do the descent in roughly three hours and reached the car again after a total time of around 11 hours including breaks. On the first few kilometers of the climb the GPS did not get a strong enough signal, but in general it gave us a good indication of our position and the remaining ascent/descent. Route_Triglav

I really enjoyed the climb and reaching the summit, but it also was one of the most exhausting days I ever spent outdoors. If you want to enjoy the experience I would recommend to take two days if you want to start from Krma valley. The ascents through Vrata valley are generally steeper, but also do not take as much time for a round trip as the Krma route. There are numerous routes for different levels of experience up to Triglav and I can promise you that you will have a great day on the mountain, especially if the weather conditions are good.

With Triglav I crossed off number seven of my list and am really looking forward to more of the higher summits on my list. In the second week of the Alpine Boot Camp I did a mountaineering course in the area of Großglockner, the highest point of Austria. Even though I did not get the chance to ascent to the summit, I learned a lot and will share some of my experiences with you guys in the following blog posts.

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About me

This blog is about my 28Summits Challenge with the goal of reaching the highest points of each member state of the European Union.


My name is Matthias, I am 28 years old. Growing up close to the Alps I have been hiking basically all my life. I love being outdoors and exploring the nature. When I am not doing this I am working in media management or follow up on my other passion of cooking and baking.

On this site I will share my experiences along the road to achieve the challenge I set myself. Furthermore, I will blog about my other hiking trips as well as media about the outdoors.

/ Matthias



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