Adventures in Slovenia: Sport Climbing and Via Ferrata 

So far Slovenia has been a beautiful place, we have only a few places on which to base this opinion, but so far we have had a blast. The classic sights of Bled coupled with some Gorge and waterfall walks have been fantastic, however we still feel the need to itch the climbing addicts within us and after seeing some close by climbing on the map, we decided we would seek it out!

As we are only spending a week here we do not have a guidebook, so logged into UKC and print screened the climb info in the hope that one was written at the foot of the climb and we would navigate from there. The crag was called Bellevue and we parked way out of town to get free parking unfortunately when we got to the climbs there was free parking literally at the crag, oh well it was good fitness!

Jess on one of the sport routes!

Most of the main crag had routes written at the bottom with grades and we took full advantage of this and slowly worked our way through the grades, starting at 4b through the dives until I topped the day with a 6b, although at this time the sun had pretty much disappeared and we were climbing from ambient light alone! The quality of the climbs, rock and bolting was excellent, so when we return to Slovenia I’m sure we will return for another go! It was good to get some climbing in, and I later found an online guide for the Bled area, which would be great for those in a similar situation and wanting to save money!
The next day was an admin day, full of the wonders of the internet… (downloading the whole series of stranger things) …, fixing the van again, grocery shopping and haircuts! With all the fun things of vanlife completed, we set off for the Triglav National Park where we parked at the top of the Vrsic Pass, ready for the next days route, Mala Mojstrovka via the Hanzova Pot route. The route we planned to do initially was Triglav, although 75 mph winds made us decide against this. We chose this as we had managed to find part of a guidebook online and this was in it, plus it was a one day route with Via Ferrata, hiking and scrambling!
That night the wind was giving it all it had, the van was constantly on the move, so much so that I struggled to sleep, and voices seemed to be screaming outside, however it was just the wind gailing past. It was also cold, colder than it had been in the van so far, so much so that ice formed on the inside of all the windows. It’s safe to say a crappy nights sleep was had by all!
It took us a while to get moving in the morning as it was so cold, and the wind had died down to normal which was good. We finally got ready after trying to decide what boots to wear, finally the coldness in the air won the decision and full mountain boots were chosen, a decision I would later appreciate due to how cold it was on the route and amount of snow we encountered.

The start of the route
Patches of snow everywhere!

The approach path started to open up vast panoramas that were hidden at the top of the pass, it was busy on the path and I feared a potentially busy day on the climb, however it turned out that all but one couple would be doing the same climb. We soon headed west, hand railing the foot of the north faces until we saw a few dots of paint trailing off to the foot of the cliff and what turned out to the the start of the route. This route was built in between the world wars so Slovenian mountaineers could still gain access to the summit, as the easier southern climb, was no longer within their borders. It was interesting to see that some of the metal work was held in by wooden wedges rather than cement, showing the age of the route.

As with all Via Ferrata routes, this one was part protected and part not. Usually the non protected sections are on easy walking ground, however for much of this route the unprotected sections had low grade climbing and scrambling, where one false move could have serious consequences, and the feeling of exposure was ever present. As well as this, even the easy walking sections were not so easy, as snow and ice had built up on the paths, making them pretty treacherous, we often opted to climb off route to keep our feet on rock rather than snow. All of this and the amazing scenery made this one of the most enjoyable days of via Ferrata.

I always thought Via Ferrata was easy, routes like this have changed my mind!
Snow making even the walking sections difficult

The following day we planned to do a walk to a water fall, as the higher summits had winds of up to 75mph, so best stay in the valley for a day. We decided on the Vrata valley walk, this starts at the town of Mojstrana. We parked at the alpine museum, and quickly used the wifi for work, however as you enter the car park there is a board with a Via Ferrata route on it, I looked up and there it was, ladder and all! We decided that we would rather do this, even though it would only be short and then do the walk as far as the water fall and then back to town.
As expected the Via Ferrata was short and some sections were fun, such as the ladder and some good rock sections. However this was interrupted with potions of poor rock, loose dirt and gravel paths, so not the best. At the top we were greeted by a Slovenian flag, feeling proud for conquering all 180m of climbing!! The path down through the woods was nice enough and soon we were back at the van for lunch. We planned an omelette, but the eggs we brought in Austria were pre boiled, so a weird mix of cooked omelette ingredients and boiled eggs was our sustenance!

One of the many packs of ice we encountered on the Hanzova Pot

As I said earlier, it was cold, and in doing a north face route on Maja Mojstrovka, it seemed even colder! My toes were freezing for the whole day, my finger were not much better. Even with constant activity I was wearing all my kit apart from my rain coat, I’m not sure if this will be our last full mountain day of 2017 as it’s getting a bit to cold for summer routes, and by the time we are back in this area (late November I reckon), I think we will be too late for mixed routes in the Alps. There is still hope that we might get another day in here before we leave, although that is a long shot as the weather looks poor, with high winds. Add to this how cold it’s getting in the van, even with the heater on, wearing full winter wear to bed, it’s not long till we are cold again, so it’s not looking good. I think it’s time to start swapping cold mountains for sun swept beaches, as we eventually head to Croatia for some more sport climbing and scuba diving!

Some of the amazing views and exposure
Not just a picture of Jess’s bum, but also two white birds we saw on the route!

Summit photo
On the descent

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