Monday, 22 July 2013

Triglav - Day 2 - Dom Planika to Koca pri Triglavskih jezerih (via the summit)

I awoke full of anticipation and nervous energy at the thought of climbing what we'd heard to be a slightly tricky summit ridge. The conditions were perfect - bright sunshine and very little wind at 7am. We donned hard hats after crossing the first snowfield and then made our way across a mixture of snow and rock along the well marked trail. After about half an hour, it was clear it was about to get more tricky and exposed. Hilde turned back to the hut having a dodgy knee and not wanting to put it to the test in exposed conditions and I tagged along with a couple of Austrians and began the steep ascent of the side of the ridge.

I was very grateful for the fixed wire and metal stakes which lined most of the route from here on, without which it would certainly have been considered a rock climb. As such, it still wasn't a walk in the park, with a few tricky moves appearing without protection and some delicious exposure. Once on top of 'mini Triglav', the gradient eased, but the ridge was very much a knife edge often less than a metre wide at the crest. One short but quintessentially alpine snow bridge sticks in the mind. All this simply added to the exhilaration however, since at no point were the conditions dangerous or the moves beyond me - they were just continuous.

I reached the summit about 1hr15 from the hut and took a moment to absorb the stunning views and grab a few snaps. The summit itself was quite covered in snow, although thankfully the ridge hadn't been. I arrived at the same time as half a dozen others, so there was plenty of hand shaking and mutual photo taking before I decided to head back down the ridge. Care was obviously taken, but it was in descent that the fixed wire really became useful, making it easier than I had expected. The round trip to the hut took just under 2hr30.

After that we made our way to the Dolic hut for lunch. This was another high-level hut that had only just opened for the summer and whose running water was thwarted by the late snows. On the way we had to negotiate some steep snow slopes without crampons and plenty of traversing on snow and rock. None of it was particularly hard, but it required concentration and would have been easier in a month's time! Some of the rocky bits were great fun though.

After more 'vegetable' soup in the sun outside the hut, we traversed more snow slopes to a plateau before descending into the '7 lakes' valley. Our approach to the first lake was accompanied by thunder and although the rain never got particularly heavy, it was persistent enough to ensure we didn't dawdle too much around the lakes. It would have been nice to spend more time there, but since one of our rain jackets wasn't superb, we pressed on to the '7 lakes' hut, some 2 hours down the valley. This was a very cosy and jolly place, which was much needed to replenish our energy stores. It was also much busier, being at a lower altitude, with many people considering the climb up to Dom Planika in the less favorable conditions.

A panorama of the summit

The ridge on the left, with the Dom Planika hut on the right. 
The Vodnik hut is in the far distance on the snowline behind Dom Planika.

Atmosphere on the ridge - there are people on the ridge in the centre.

Hilde negotiating a steep rocky section en route to the Dolic hut.

Triglav (2864) - Day 1 - Rudno Polje to Dom Planika

We had the luxury of a lift from Mrs Marinsek to the trailhead on Rudno Polje, a plateau to the NW of Stara Fuzina and some 800m higher up. Our legs were very grateful, although there was still 1200m to go that day. The first half of this was in one go - through trees then up the side of an alp to a pass at 1875m. The climb took us past some patches of snow, which caused us a bit of worry about how much there might be further up, but the paths were good and spirits were high.

Next we traversed round a peak called Tosc to the Vodnik hut, where we received huge sandwiches and our first taste of 'mountain tea' - a delicious mixture of black tea with something like blueberries. The place was fairly busy, being a crossroads for people doing the ascent and people touring below the snowline.

We left there about 1pm and began the last steep section, which was sometimes rocky, often snowy and always ascending. Care had to be taken crossing the snowfields, given that it was now afternoon and the snow had gone quite slushy, but we managed without too much difficulty and without any specialist gear like crampons, etc.

As we approached the small barren plateau around the Dom Planika hut, there was a little bit of snow in the air and indeed no sooner had we got inside than a brief snowstorm whipped up to make us feel like we were on the edge of the world.

The hut had a stunning location and was quite cosy, although it was a bit dark and did suffer from still being partially snowbound early in the season - the running water wasn't yet available, since the well was still frozen over. Not to worry, we made do with red wine and a waterbottle of melted snow. A private room for two is luxury in the alps though and the vegetable soup was great (although I'm glad I'm not actually a vegetarian, since there were some quite obvious chunks of beef in it).

Panorama from the Vodnik hut. Triglav is behind the hut on the right hand side.

Triglav, 3000ft below the summit. Dom Planika is quite visible below 'mini Triglav' on the right.

A traditional scene in the Julian Alps.