Ice Climbing Regions in the Northern Julian Alps/Slovenia
By Aljaz Anderle
Internationally, Slovenia does not actually have a reputation as an ice climbing paradise. Not rightly so, because in cold winters ice is abundant. Ice climbs are scattered over alpine and sub-alpine areas of the country. Better known abroad than ice formations are masters who have forged their skills by climbing here, if only to mention Slavko Svetičič, Franček Knez, Tomo Česen and Janez Jeglič.
Because of the position of the country, which is easily and quickly accessible from any part of Europe, and because of interesting aspects of its geography and climate, Slovenia is witnessing a growing number of foreign climbers heading for frozen waterfalls on the sunny side of the Alps.
Let us concentrate on the Northern Julian Alps. This area stretches mainly along the upper reaches of the Sava River. Due to its accessibility, this area has become most popular among foreign visitors. The central point is the village of Kranjska Gora, with plenty of accommodation facilities, rental shops and a guide office. The major ice climbing destinations for a one-day excursion from Kranjska Gora are:
Planica Valley - Tamar
World-famous for its huge ski jumps, the valley hides numerous icefalls that form regularly. There are about 13 icefalls located deeper in the valley under the huge north face of Mojstrovka, with 5 major ones forming every winter. The grades vary from WI 3 to WI 6+; the heights of climbs between 50 and 150 metres. There are also a few mixed routes of moderate difficulty, up to M8. The most popular climbs are: Sveča: 100m, WI 5; Centralni slap, 120m, WI 4+; Rastlinca, 120m, WI4; Rariteta, 100m, WI 5; Ribomanija, 50m, WI 6+; Kristusova večerja, 80m, WI 6+ and Kosobrin WI 6+ M7, 120m.
There is a mountain hut open in Tamar, just 20 minutes from the ice climbs, which makes weekend climbing very comfortable.
One of the hot spots of ice climbing in Slovenia with the highest concentration of climbs is located on the north side of the Vršič Pass. Sheltered in the shade of the great north face of Mt Prisank, these climbs form regularly and stay in good condition until spring. The routes are up to 200 metres long and their difficulties vary between WI 4 and WI 6. There are a few mixed climbs of moderate difficulty (up to M8+) set up on crags between the ice falls. The rock however is not superb.
The best known and the most attractive amongst these walls is Lambada (M6+ early in the season, later WI 5-6). It hadn't been climbed until 1991, when a bold solo ascent was made. Then it failed to form until 1998. Since then, it has formed practically every year and is a titbit for any serious ice climber. There are also some other fine climbs and a weekend will not be enough to do them all. Sometimes, though rarely, even 300-metre-long climbs form in the lower Prisojnik area (Prednja glava)