Archive for August, 2014

Jalovec – the most beautiful mountain in Slovenia

Jalovec is with 2.645 metres the sixth highest mountain in Slovenia. The peak crowns three alpine valleys: Loška koritnica, Zadnja Trenta and Tamar. From the top opens the amazing view to the highest mountains of Slovenian and Italian Julian Alps and Austrian Hohe Tauern.


The easiest way to climb the mountain is from mountain pass Vršič via Zavetišče pod Špičkom (mountain refugee), but even though you need to be experienced mountaineer, because the climb is still very difficult. From Loška koritnica it is possible to climb it via Kotovo sedlo and from Tamar also via Kotovo sedlo or Jalovška škrbina. The most difficult is climb from Tamar through spectacular couloir Jalovčev ozebnik.

07 Ozebnik

If all other climbs to Mt. Jalovec are just very difficult, the climb through couloir Jalovčev ozebnik is very-very-difficult. But definitely worth of the effort.

You see the couloir soon after entering Planica valley. Planica is well known after ski jumps. The hut is placed on the clearing with the backdrop of the jagged mountains of Mojstrovka, Šite, Travnik, Jalovec and Ponce. All mountains over 2.000 metres high. Easy path takes you through the forest to the land of stones, rocks and overhanging walls. Approaching the end of the valley the path will become steeper and from step to step more unpleasant to walk. You make one step up and you slide half of it back down. You struggle with stones and sand all the way to the foot of the wall. Just before a path to Kotovo sedlo branches off. From here you have three possibilities:

  1. to go right to Jalovec via Kotovo sedlo,
  2. to go straight and soon after left to go to Jalovec via Jalovška škrbina or
  3. to go straight all the way to go to Jalovec through couloir Jalovški ozebnik.

The way via Kotovo sedlo is by the time and difficulty quite similar to one via Jalovčeva škrbina. The way through couloir is at least one grade harder. Jalovčev ozebnik is a steep, deep and narrow couloir between Mt. Jalovec and Mt. Goličica. In the winter, when there is enough snow, skiing it and slope all the way down to the hut might be very enjoyable (max. 45°). If you are good prepared and experienced enough to climb very crumbly grade II (UIAA) it is worth of the effort. By being prepared I mean to have at least helmet, crampons and axe with if not even rope, harness and other free climbing equipment. In the couloir is snow all year around.

The easier way goes around Mt. Goličica you see on your right hand side. The one is equipped with pegs and iron ropes. When you climb Jalovčev ozebnik you leave the path at the bottom of the couloir and join it again at the top of it. From there follow a marked route to the top of the mountain. There are some short sections that need to be climbed, but all such sections are equipped with pegs and iron rope the way to be easier to climb. From the top an excellent view will open and there you will see and feel, why this mountain is the most beautiful in Slovenia.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 6)

Around Podkoren

Zelenci is as natural park protected swamp with small emerald green lake 1.200m long and 200m wide. Source of Sava Dolinka river. Natural park is a living space of many rare and endangered animal species and plants. Area around Kranjska gora is the result of work of Planica glacier, once stretching from beneath Mt. Jalovec, Mt. Ponce and Mt. Mojstrovka. Zelenci is a remnant of once much larger Koren lake, damed by a debris of the glacier and filled by the water of melting glacier. Sava river after made its way through this dam, lowering the water level until only Zelenci and wetland around were left. Zelenci is considered the beginning and the second source of the longer of the two sources of the Sava, the longest Slovenian river at 221 km. Unique in Slovenia is that the porous chalk of the Zelenci lakebed permits a constant upwelling of groundwater in the form of tiny jets. The lake water has constant year-round temperature of 5–6 °C. From the lake, the water flows into a stream, which empties eastward into the marshland “Blata” (“Muds”). The actual riverbed of the Sava Dolinka begins at Podkoren by the slopes of Vitranc.

Planica is glacial U-shaped 7km long valley. Around 2.300m high mountains and ridges rise above the valley. In the middle part of the valley, under Ponce mountains are ski-jumping hills. Today there is a large construction site, new nordic centre with a hotel, cross-country skiing tracks and ski-jumping hills will be finished in the following years. Planica finishes with Tamar. Nadiža waterfall is first source of Sava Dolinka river. Soon after it goes undergraund and at Zelenci comes to light again.

History of ski-jumping in Slovenina officially starts with the first championship and record in 1921 in Bohinj with 9m long jump. Just before 1930 in Planica first jumping hill was built. This one was not built according to FIS standards. Soon after at Winter Sports Association came to idea to build a ski jump that will be built according to FIS standards. They were thinking about a ski jump, where would be possible to jump at least 100m. Bloudek ski jump was finished in 1934 and opened with national championship. New record was 92m. The firs man, jumped over 100m (101m) was Austrian Sepp Bradl in 1936. In 1950s higher ski jumps were built in Kulm and Oberstdorf. To bring an old glory back to Planica, new ski jump had to be built. Brothers Gorišek made all the projects for new flying hill, it was finished in 1969. In 1994 Toni Nieminen, Finland was the first man fly over 200m (203m). The longest jump in Planica is from 2005, Norvegian Bjorn Einar Romoren flew 239m. Present world record from 2011 is held by Norvegian Johan Remen Evensen, who jumped 246,5m). The longest jump in Planica is from 2005, Norvegian Bjorn Einar Romoren flew 239m. Present world record from 2011 is held by Norvegian Johan Remen Evensen, who in Vikersund jumped 246,5m. Slovenes too have a large collection of great results in the sport, gaining their first olympic medal (a team bronze) in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Slovene record holder is Robert Kranjec, who jumped 244m in 2012 in Vikersund.

In winter brave men on skis fly over this flying hill, in summer other and sometimes also the same brave men and women run up. Extreme race called Red Bull 400 is organized here. 400 means that the track is only 400m long, but you climb almost 200m. The fastest runners need about 5 minutes and 10 seconds to climb to the top. Using of your hands is almost necessary to finish the race.



The two Fusine Lakes in the Natural Park of Fusine lie in a glacial basin within the majestic limestone amphitheatre built by the Picco di Mezzodì, Mount Mangart and Ponza Grande. The Fusine Lakes are maybe among the most beautiful stretches of water in the region. The two lakes are divided by morainic ridges and are supplied by an unusual water system, partly underground. The Higher Lake is supplied by various streams coming down from the surrounding mountains. It lies 5 meters above the Lower Lake and its water slowly flows into the lower reservoir via underground waterways. The Lower Lake supplies the Rio del Lago, the only effluent of both lakes. A peculiarity of this area is the presence of many erratic blocks (huge rocks which have been moved by glaciers far away from their place of origin); the volume of the biggest one, Rock Pirona or Rodelffels, slightly exceeds 30,000 cubic metres. The lakes are surrounded by large forests of Norway spruce (some of them older than 150 years), silver fir and beech, inhabited by deer and roe deer, while chamois and ibexes live in the higher areas. In winter the valley Fusine, which is one of the coldest places in Italy, is crossed by two cross-country ski tracks.

Fusine Lakes

Fusine Lakes

Kranjska gora is the largest settlement in Upper Sava Valley and is due to ski jumping world cup and championship in Planica and Pokal Vitranc, world cup in slalom and giant slalom, most famous for its winter sports but is the heart of the valley in summer too.

Winters are long and cold with lot of snow, what old village people can tell us:

  • the winter (from November to March) with the thickest snow cover was in the years 1869-70, together fell around 7m of snow
  • at one time the most snow fell on 15.3.1909, 2,5m

The village started to develop only in 14. century. Due to harsh winters cultivation of land was limited and it was not suitable for cereals growing. At that  time people started with deforestation of land mostly for stockbreeding. In 1870 the railway Ljubljana – Rateče – Tarvisio was opened and closed in 1966 (31.3. the last train). During the World War 1, Kranjska gora became important transportation hub in Austrian rear. Over the mountain pass Vršič (1611m) new road and cable car were built. Military used them for transportation of arms, military equipment and soldiers to the Soča front. Russian soldiers (prisoners of war) built Russian chapel for their deceased colleagues and friends, which died during the construction work and mainly die because of hard winter working conditions and snow slides. Tourism started to develop in the beginning of 20. century. In 1904 the first hotel in Kranjska gora – hotel Razor was built. Today you can enjoy various activities in the nature: hiking and trekking, cycling and mountainbiking, golf, horse riding, rock climbing, fishing, programs for children (Kekec home), summer sledding, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, ski touring, ice climbing, ski doo riding,…

But Kranjska gora also has old heart of the village, where people in 1848, when village got trading rights, traded their goods. On the square stands main church in Kranjska gora, church of  Assumption from 1510. Close to the centre by the main street stands Liznjek house (prototype of traditional house which were built unchanged to 19. century), once owned by the richest landowner of the village. It is wooden house built in 17. century, small stone house standing by is from 18. century.

Ski resort Krvavec

Ski resort Krvavec

Slovenia has a long history of skiing. Slovenes are skiing nation and I can say, that almost every Slovene stood on the skies at least once in his lifetime.

The oldest information about skiing is based on archaeological evidence. A wooden ski dating from about 6300 to 5000 BC was found about 1200km northeast of Moscow at Lake Sindor. The Kalvträskskidan ski, found in Sweden dates to 3300 BC, and the Vefsn Nordland ski, found in Norway is dated to 3200 BC. Rock drawings in Norway dated to 4000 BC depict a man on skis holding a stick. Norwegians were ambassadors of skiing and skies. Also the word ski comes from  Old Norse word “skíð” which means stick of wood or ski. At the beginning skies were used as a mean of transport. Norwegian immigrants used skis in the US midwest from around 1836. Norwegian immigrant “Snowshoe Thompson” transported mail by skiing across the Sierra Nevada between California and Nevada from 1856. In 1888 Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen and his team crossed the Greenland icecap on skis. Norwegian workers on the Buenos Aires – Valparaiso railway line introduced skiing in South America around 1890. In 1910 Roald Amundsen used skis on his South Pole Expedition. In 1902 the Norwegian consul in Kobe imported ski equipment and introduced skiing to the Japanese, motivated by the death of Japanese soldiers during snow storm.

Skiing as a sport developed only in 18. century. The first recorded organized skiing exercises and races are from military uses of skis in Norwegian and Swedish infantries.

First Slovenian skiers already existed as early as the 16. and 17. centuries. As a legend says, traditional Slovenian downhill skiing was born in the region of the Bloke plateau, a semi-forestall hilly land placed south-west of Ljubljana. Bloke skier is considered as a “prototype” skier of Slovenian modern skiing. Baron Janez Vajkard Valvasor (1641-1693) wrote precise reports on skiing activities in Slovenia. The skiing of Carniolan peasants was described in 1689 in the book Die Ehre Deß erzogthums Crain (The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola). Baron Janez Vajkart Valvazor was a nobleman, scholar, polymath, and member of the London Royal Society. Valvasor’s book is a description of Carniolan geography, nature, history, customs, and language.

Big boom of Slovenian skiing happened in 1980s with growing of international successes of Slovenian skiers. Alpine skiers, such as Bojan Križaj, Mateja Svet, Boris Strel, Rok Petrovič, Jure Franko and Nataša Bokal were the athletes who, by winning several World Ski Cup podiums and victories, small crystal globes for the season’s best runner in a particular ski discipline, World Championships podiums or titles and Olympic medals, materialized the myth of skiing as the Slovenian national sport. Bojan Križaj was the beginner of the successful Slovenian skiing story and one of the greatest legends of Slovenian skiing who was one of the greatest rivals of the legendary and almost unbeatable Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark. In female world of skiing Mateja Svet was Slovenia’s most successful female alpine skier by far. As one of the world’s best female skiers, she was one of the greatest opponents of Swiss skier Vreni Schneider. Slovenian skiing fairy tale is still not ended. Just last season 2012-13 was all-time best season of Slovenian skiing. Tina Maze becomes one of the alpine skiing legends with a record breaking 2414 points in World cup season. She reaches the podium 24 times and in the meanwhile in Schaldming becomes Super-G champion in wins silver medals in giant slalom and super combined.

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (part 5)

From lake Faak to Podkoren

Last few days we cycle through bilingual area with strong Slovene minority. After arriving here in 6. century they formed the centre of their culture at Zollfeld and settled also wide around the centre. They still live mostly close to the border with Slovenia and settle many villages between Bleiburg and Hermagor. On some traffic signs you can notice names of the villages in both German and Slovenia language. In 18. century here lived up to 95% Slovenes, today in some villages only a small number of them still live. After the collapse of Austrian-Hungarian empire at the end of WW1, there was a strong will of Austrian Slovenes to join Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Kingdom of SHS, precursor of Kingdom of Yugoslavia). After several military operations of Yugoslav army in present Carinthia, the issue was solved with plebiscite. There was strong propaganda from both sides, Austrian and Yugoslav, but at the end Austrian was stronger. The outcome of the plebiscite held on 10 October 1920, was 22,025 votes (59.1% of the total cast) in favor of adhesion to Austria and 15,279 (40.9%) in favour of annexation by the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. After the Austrian option had gained a majority of votes in predominantly Slovene Zone A, the second stage of the referendum in northern Zone B, populated chiefly by German speakers, was not carried out.

Above Gailtal rises 2166m high Dobrač. South side of the mountain, is completely cracked. In the year 1348 an earthquake turned life in a valley up side down. The earthquake was so intense, that part of Mt. Dobrač crushed in to the valley. 17 villages were covered by a material from the mountain and stemed river Gail, which raised into the huge lake. 10 villages were under the water. Later it has been discovered, that during the earthquake fell 900 mio cubic metres of the material, which covered around 30 sqm (7400 acres) north from Arnoldstein. When cycling under the mountain by the motorway you still can see the material from the mountain, where pine trees grow (they are acid-soil lovers). After the river found its way south again it left large area of swamp, which caused the soil became acidulous (reason for pine trees), and local farmers had to change agriculture for stockbreeding.

After leaving Arnoldstein, we join Alpe-Adria cycling path. In 410 kilometres it takes you from Salzburg (Austria) to Grado (Italy) on the Adriatic coast. We leave it at Tarvisio, where we turn to Kranjska gora.

Alpe-Adria cycling path

Alpe-Adria cycling path

Tarvisio is situated in the Canal Valley (Val Canale), between the Carnic Alps and Karawanks ranges in the north and the Julian Alps in the south. Located at the border with both Austria and Slovenia, Tarvisio and its neighbouring municipalities of Arnoldstein and Kranjska Gora form the tripoint of Romance, Germanic and Slavic cultures. The height west of the town centre marks the watershed between the Slizza creek, a tributary of the Gail River which is part of the Danube basin, and the Fella River, tributary of the Tagliamento discharging into the Adriatic Sea. As a place upon ancient trade routes across the Alps to Venice, Tarvisio’s roots date back to Roman times. Later a region had considerable importance because of nearby ore mines and ironworks, especially around the village of Fusine (Weißenfels/Bela Peč). Tarvisio remained a southern exclave of the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg, until in 1758 the bishop finally sold Tarvisio to the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. Until 1918 it was part of the Duchy of Carinthia, it received town privileges in 1909. For decades, in Tarvisio stopped huge number of Yugoslavs for shopping. The most popular were jeans trousers, leather jackets, rise and coffee. After Slovenian independence and entering European Union lot of shops were closed. Today, tourism and winter sports in the Karavanke, the Carnic Alps and the Julian Alps have become important industries. Tarvisio is known for its profound alpine snow which attracts many tourists for skiing and snowboarding, mainly schools. It was host to the 2003 Winter Universiade and the Women’s Alpine Skiing World Cup.

We end the day in Podkoren. The village is even older than Kranjska Gora. A paved medieval road led through the village which in the 15. century served as a connection between the countrysides of Carniola and Carinthia. A postal carriage brought inhabitants news from far off places across Korensko sedlo ( Korensko Saddle) during the era of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Until the year 1990 when the Karavanke tunnel was built,the road through the Korensko sedlo presented the main traffic connection with central and northern Europe. The region which hides the emerald Lake of Zelenci,the second source of the Sava River so inspired the English explorer Sir Humphrey Davy that he marked the surroundings of Podkoren with the words “my old nest”.

Peč, tromeja, Dreiländereck, tre confini, tripoint

Peč, tromeja, Dreiländereck, tre confini, tripoint

Lakes of Austria and Slovenia (Part 4)

Velden and Lake Wörther

Just after crossing the channel of Drava we arrive to Frög, to Celtic world. Almost 3000 years ago the Celts buried their upper class dead persons in Megalithic mounds in the burial field around present museum, along with other precious belongings such as jewellery and weapons. On the site also an exclusive miniature lead carriage was found. Today there is a museum, where discover their lifestyle, the religious context and the society in which they lived. Just behind the hill in Rosegg is the largest ZOO in Carinthia. The ZOO is home to more than 400 animals, bisons, ibexes, lynxes, rare deer species and more. It is located within the ruins of an Old Rosegg castle. New Rosegg castle was built in 1772 by prince Orsini-Rosenberg for his Italian mistress Madame Lucrezia. With this castle he wanted to bring some Italian flair to the heart of Carinthia. Today the castle is inhabited by lifelike characters from the history of the castle. Close to the castle is the largest maze in Austria. Over 3000 hornbeam form an area of 1400 square metres, a hedge of one kilometre in length. Maze is a a classical element of garden design in England in 17. and 18. century. Velden is the largest and the busiest place on the lake (population 9000). Carinthia’s most fashionable resort, its villas and hotels encircle the western end of the lake. Near the jetty stands the Schloss (16. and 17. century), a Renaissance building with earl Baroque doorway (1603). It was extended in 1920 and is now a hotel surrounded by a park. The two storey building has hexagonal towers at each corner, with domes and turrets. At the end of the 16. century it was a favourite meeting place for the aristocracy. If you continue by the south shore of the lake you soon reach Maria Wörth. A first St. Mary’s Church was erected about 875 during the Christianization in former Carantania, led by the Bishops of Freising based at Innichen Abbey. It was first mentioned in a 894 deed as Maria Werd — as the site had then been an island, the Old High German term Wörth or Werder like Slovene Otok denotes a piece of land surrounded by water. The church served for the translation of the relics of Saints Primus and Felician and played an important role within the Christian mission in the Duchy of Carinthia. About 1150 Bishop Otto of Freising founded a college of canons here and had the small Winterkirche chapel built beside the collegiate church. Couple of kilometres further on is Reifnitz, where the annual GTI meeting brings together lovers of especially tuned Golf GTI models. On the main square of the town the Golf stone sculpure is the main attraction. Above Maria Wörth and Reifnitz is Pyramidenkogel, an 851-meter high mountain with a 54-meter high observation platform, the Pyramidenkogel Tower.

Velden Castle Hotel

Velden Castle Hotel

Maria Wörth from Pyramidenkogel

Maria Wörth from Pyramidenkogel

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