Day 10 & 11 – Triglav North Face – The Edge of Slovenian Alps

Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps

The alarm rings early, at 7:45 we are buying cakes and bread at the bakery. At 8:15 we reach Mojstrana and leave the main road for the 908, the countryside road that follows Triglavska Bistrica, the river descending from mount Triglav. We drive deep inside Vrata valley and end up in the earth of Triglav National Park.

We leave the van in the parking, which costs 5 euros and is managed by the park authority. The forest is luxurious and the waters are clear. We decide to treat ourselves with a coffee at Aljazev dom v Vraith, 1015m. Basically where our ascent begins, at the so-called ‘mountain stage’. Here the forest is tall and mixed.

We follow the river for 10 minutes until a partisan monument from which we take the left. And here the path begins to be steep, the trail marker that we follow -Tominskova pot- announces Triglav summit to be 6 hours and 30 minutes far.

A vertical Forest

We spend a first good hour gaining altitude quickly. The path is basically vertical, a sort of staircase going up through the trees. We just stop to breath, dry our sweat, drink, and mostly, getting undressed. It is still quite cold, but going up we do not feel it. The forest is amazing, a mature one, where the competition is far from the soil and the sun rarely infiltrates through the canopy. It is ancient, dark, and calls for respect and silence. But we talk a lot, mostly to sweeten M’s first great ascension.

We are now in full ‘subalpine stage’ at around 1700m, the mixed forest now uniforms, we mainly meet conifers. The more we climb, the more the trees shorten, the forest opens, the sun reaches the soil, some flowers show up and grasses are green and abundant.

No more trees

Finally we reach the ‘alpine stage’ and what was supposed to be the via ferrata, begins. But we quickly realise that we didn’t need any climbing material to do this. The exposed passages are easy and well protected, the rock holds pretty well and the only possible danger are stones falling from above. However, even this risk is very limited today, we are the only two people following this trail. Only an ibex could make our climb dangerous by making rocks falling.

Indeed, when the ‘ferrata’ passages are over we start spotting ibexes. Not that there is much to spot, they are kind of everywhere. From approximately 2000m to 2600m we meet ibexes of every size, sex and age. They are not much afraid. Typically, they keep eating grass and watching us until our path crosses their. Once too close, they run away just to reach again their spot when we are far enough. We try not to bother them too much.

The last snows and Kredarica hut

The landscape transforms again when we reach the 2200 metres of altitude. Here a great plain of rocks and snow -where white and grey are the dominant colours- welcomes us. Here we drink water from a weak spring, and eat our sandwiches. The sun starts hitting, we are one hour away from Kredarica hut, where we will be passing the night.

The hut reached, 2540m, we have been walking 4 hours and 20 minutes. We decide to go for the summit after a quick break.

Here the trail looks more like a climb: vertical, exposed, rocky and stunning. The rocks have some red shades, the grey becomes almost pink. We finally meet more people, groups, loners and couples. Someone going up, others down. Exposed passages start tiring us, when we reach the top we are sweaty and exhausted. 2864M, we gained 1849m of vertical distance. The view is majestic, the sun is hot. We walked 5 hours and 15 minutes to reach the roof of Slovenia.

Not the hut we expected

The hut where we spend the night is the highest of Slovenia. It is big, not well entertained, expensive. The dinner do not reach our French/Italian-hut expectations. The room is small, and cosy, all in wood, as big as the bed. It feels like a mountain crib.

Breakfast is just a cup of tea with the biscuits we brought ourselves from Italy.

Back to the forest

The way down is smooth and fast. We stop for an early sandwich at 11. We chose a less exposed trail for the descent, however, some passages are harsh but well protected. We meet a kid -he cannot be more than 10- overcoming, calmly but determined, a vertical passage followed by his father. He is going to become a real Slovenian today. They say that you can call yourself Slovenian only once you climbed Triglav.

At the bottom of the valley we follow the river dipping in the forest. Back to the shadow and pleasant temperatures until our van.

Our way to Bled

We leave Vrata valley to reach again the upper Sava valley, and follow it until Lesce, where we leave the main road to reach Bled.

We have an overview of the lake only at the last moment, when we pass by the railway station. Its dark blue waters and the island in the middle strike us, as well as the number of people on its shore. The campsite where we decided to spend the night is right in front of the lake, we just have to cross the road to reach it.

A bath in the lake is the last physical activity of the day, before to enjoy a warm risotto and a good night sleep.

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