Climbing Mount Triglav: a Hiking Experience
There is a saying that every true Slovenian must at least once in their life stand on top of the Triglav mountain. For everybody else in the world, this climb is totally optional, but it’s so beautiful that you still should make it if you can! Our editor Kate climbed the highest mountain in Slovenia on the first week of September and now tells you about her experience.
Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia, and it’s situated in the Julian Alps. This is real, tough mountains, so you shouldn’t attempt the climb unless you have some mountaineering experience. If you doubt you can take care of yourself in the mountains, better take a guided tour.
As for me, I felt that I could manage that, and I borrowed a helmet and a climbing harness from a friend. They are not strictly necessary, but it’s good to have them, as some parts of the route are via ferrata. I also researched different ways to go up and down and chose a fairly easy and picturesque way up the Seven Lakes Valley. I planned to spend 1 day going up and one day descending… You’ll soon learn what happened to that plan, for now, let’s just say I was too optimistic :) Needless to say, I pre-loaded a map with all the routes to my phone because there’s no signal in a lot of places.
Technically speaking, you don’t need a sleeping bag if you plan to stay in the huts on the way. However, I took one anyway in case there were no places left and I had to sleep on the floor. This didn’t happen, but I was still happy to snuggle in my own warm sleeping bag instead of blankets. I didn’t book any accommodation in advance for this trip.
Day 1: Bled Lake
The touristic area of Bled lake is a middle stop between Ljubljana and Triglav national park. I arrived there after lunch by bus which goes every half an hour from Ljubljana bus station. The route takes just under an hour and a half. In Bled, I found a hostel on a map and just came there asking for the cheapest bed. Several people staying there were also going to the mountains or returning from there, so it was a fun company.
I asked the hostel owner if I needed to book accommodation in the huts along my route in advance. He said that in September it was already not necessary. Huts are usually packed in August during school holidays. I also went to the bus station and found a bus timetable. My chosen trail starts close to Ukanc village, which is a final stop on a regular bus route from Bled. There is a supermarket in Bled, where I bought snacks for the next day.
In the afternoon I went for a walk around the lake and climbed the famous Osojnica viewpoint. It was a good practice before the more strenuous climbs starting the next day. I also swam in Bled, and water was of perfect temperature and brilliantly clean! The hearty dinner at Gostilna Pri Planincu made me so full that I felt like I didn’t need breakfast the next day.
Day 2: The Depressing Climb
I got up early and took the first 7am bus to Ukanc village on the shores of Bohinj lake. It was raining and dark and the prospects of it getting better were slim. I was a bit worried about the safety of climbing alone, so I was looking for fellow climbers. This early in the morning on a rainy day there were just two more girls going in the same direction as me. Judging by helmets on their backpacks, they were going to the very top too. I started a conversation and we ended up hiking together for more than two days.
The rain kept falling as we walked to Koča
The less said about the next three hours, the better. We gained about 900 meters, through rain and mist, without a single view to redeem our efforts. At lunch, we reached Dom na Komni hut, feeling pretty miserable. All our stuff was wet, and the weather didn’t look like it was going to get any better. We decided to stay put for the rest of the day and spend the night here too.
The huts on Triglav usually don’t have showers, due to the lack of water. However, as this hut was fairly low, it had at least running water and a decent toilet. But what made us most happy was hot food and a huge stove, by the side of which we dried all our possessions.
Day 3: The Valley of 7 Lakes
The morning looked bright and sunny, and after breakfast, we set out with lifted spirits. My legs were a bit sore after the strain of the day before, but the path from Dom na Komni to Koča pri Triglavskih jezerih hut was almost flat, so the start of the day was rather easy. We rested and had second breakfast at Koča pri Triglavskih jezerih hut with a tranquil view of the lakes, and continued up the valley.
When we were passing Jezero v Ledvicah lake, we decided to have a swim. After all, life is difficult with no showers! The water was very refreshing, but we enjoyed it anyway. We also saw marmots on the way, and it greatly hindered our progress, as we were trying to make pictures of them. By mid-afternoon we reached Zasavska koča na Prehodavcih hut. We had lunch there with a gorgeous view down to the valley. Small lakes around this hut are the last place you can refill your bottle for free before the top.
The last part of the day was the most difficult. We were already tired, and also some parts of the path required careful consideration where to put your feet if you don’t want to fall. We crossed the ridge to the south of Kanjavec peak and walked down on the other side of it. Then we passed through Sedlo Dolič pass to Koča na Doliču hut. We reached the hut rather late in the day, but because it was September there were still places to sleep.
Facilities in this hut are not for the faint of heart. There is no running water, and the toilet is in an outside building. It doesn’t have either light or toilet paper, and is open to all the winds. Luckily, we had wipes and hand disinfectant, so we easily survived the trial. There is also no mobile network in the hut. However, the hosts have a satellite weather forecast, so you can ask them what to expect the next day. Strangely enough, they also accept credit cards. The package of a place to sleep, dinner and breakfast was 39€.
Day 4: To the Top…
Breakfast starts at 6am in the huts close to the top. They cater to climbers that want to make the most of the light day ahead and wake up at 5.30. There is a straight climb from Koča na Doliču hut to the summit, but we decided to traverse the side of the mountain to Dom Planika hut and leave our backpacks there before the climb. The way we chose was also considered easier.
This walk is almost horizontal, but tricky in some parts. Often you have to walk on a narrow stony path, holding on to your inner balance and sometimes to the metal safety rods. But the view towards the valley and the golden rising sun was worth all the effort.
By 10.30 we reached Dom Planika hut, had lunch and packed only cameras and water in our backpacks. The rest of our equipment we left behind in the hut in plastic bags. Here I bought the most expensive bottle of water in my life – 4.5€ for 1.5 liters! But there was nowhere else to get water. We also donned our helmets and harnesses. The path to the top of Triglav through Maly Triglav peak is very well marked, and you’re not likely to be alone there, as a lot of tourists are doing the climb.
It’s just 400 meters up from Dom Planika to the top, but it’s a difficult path, most of it you have to do on your fours. Even though I’m not afraid of heights, I didn’t feel comfortable enough to stop and take pictures. I only attached myself to the safety leers twice on the way up and didn’t do that at all on the way down. Organized groups with a guide were doing it all the way though and were thus very slow and difficult to overtake. Tough Slovenians were almost running up and down without harness or a helmet. We met a group of dancers that were howling huge backpacks with costumes to the top to record a traditional dance there!
The view from the top was obstructed by a cloud on one side, so we could only look eastwards. But we were lucky there was a view at all, the tourists that did the climb earlier this very day reported snow and zero visibility. Strangely enough, there is a good mobile connection and 4G internet on the top, so people hang out there for a long time, sharing selfies and calling their friends from the top of the country.
Still Day 4: …and Down!
We descended back to Dom Planika at about 13.30 and celebrated our successful climb with shots of schnapps. From there, our paths diverged, as my companions wanted to spend two more days hiking in the mountains, and I had to be in Italy the next day, so I had to get down. I chose the shortest way down – past Vodnikov
I passed Vodnikov dom hut at about 16.00 and was very tempted to stay the night because my legs were tired, but I had to hurry. Besides, one more day without a shower sounded horrible. This path past Vodnikov dom is very picturesque, and I kept turning back for a view of Triglav summit finally free of the clouds. Now I think it would be nice to take this way up to enjoy this view all the way. The last third of the way is less picturesque, through the forest and on woodcutters’ roads. Finally, after dropping more than 2km that day and pleading with my legs to keep going, I reached Planinska koča
Day 5: Getting Out
In the morning I discovered that the previous day’s extreme descend obliterated my legs, and it was very difficult to move. Luckily, I was already on the more or less flat ground. I walked through the beautiful park of Mostnica Gorge, where Mostnica river has cut its way through the picturesque formations of stones, and reached Stara Fužina town on the shores of Bohinj lake.
Stara Fužina is a big tourist center, with cafes, hotels, boat rentals and direct buses to Ljubljana. After a short walk along the shores of the crystal-clean Bohinj, I boarded the bus and said goodbye to this beautiful region. I was very tired, but happy that I’ve made this demanding climb, it was worth every step!