A Family Hike up Triglav in Slovenia
Mount Triglav is the highest mountain in Slovenia at 2,864m. Triglav is more than just a mountain – it has cultural significance for Slovenes. It features on their coat of arms, flag, 50 cent coin, and was the symbol of the Slovene partisans during World War II. It’s also said that every Slovene should climb Triglav at least once in their life!
Climbing Triglav as a Family
We climbed Triglav as a family of five in summer 2019. My daughter Izzy (then 17) and husband Danny had already climbed Triglav three years previously and were desperate to climb again with the whole family. Our sons, George (then 15) and Charlie (then 12) are both strong hikers, although somewhat less enthusiastic than Izzy!
Triglav is usually climbed in two days, utilising one of the many huts (Doms or Kocas) to stay overnight. The Alpine Association have a list of huts and their opening times. During the summer months it is important to book in advance. The huts around Triglav especially book up, as many tourists and local Slovenes alike are keen to climb. We reserved accommodation at Dom Planika, located just south of Triglav, and visible from Stara Fužina if your eyesight is good enough!
The Tourist Board in Bohinj is keen to encourage use of public transport rather than cars in the mountains to limit pollution. In the summer months, they provide free buses which run to various trailheads. As well as saving you the stress of finding a parking space, this means that you can start and finish your hike at different locations, without having to worry about where your car is. We utilised the Hop-on-Hop-off Pokljuka Bus, which passes through Stara Fužina (547m) and ends at Rudno Polje (1,367m). This year (2021) this service is running three times daily from 19th June to 14th September.
An Ascent of Triglav via Viševnik
Starting at Rudno Polje saves 800m of climb from Lake Bohinj. From the starting point, our route took us over the summit of Viševnik (2,004m) after about two hours. Whilst steep in some places, it is a relatively easy route and well marked. After hiking up a ski slope, you head through a forested gully and up to a col. A zig-zagging path then climbs up the southern side until the final walk along a ridge to the summit. On a clear day the views from the top are extensive and spectacular. However, the summit was in swirling cloud when we arrived, so after a quick snack we moved on.
We headed down the path on the other side to Srenjski preval (Middle Saddle), from where the path contours underneath Mali Draški Vrh. Some parts of this have cables fitted for extra security, but this was mostly easy hiking, giving plenty of time to admire the view.
After a while, the path reaches an unexpected grassy opening, offering amazing views deep into the Krma Valley. We choose to have our lunch here, making sure we stayed away from the edge!
The path then contoured around Veliki Draški Vrh and Tosc, which are two mountains visible from Lake Bohinj. Veliki Draški Vrh has a distinct pyramidal shape, Tosc a large dome. The views over the Lower Bohinj mountains from this path were stunning, as were the wild flowers.
Unfortunately, at this point Charlie took a bit of a tumble and fell onto the rocky path. With some patching up from the first aid kit (always carry one when you travel in the mountains) and some chocolate he was able to keep going.
After rounding Tosc, we headed north towards Triglav. This marked the end of the relatively flat section, and the start of the climb up! As we emerged from a forested section, we could see the summit through the mist, still more than 1,000m above us and looking a long way off. We had a quick drink at Vodnikov Dom (and used the last flushing toilets!) before continuing our journey up to Dom Planika.
The last ascent up to Dom Planika is a series of steep zig zags, so we all arrived tired, hungry and ready for a rest. The staff who work at the mountain huts are all really friendly and accommodating. Dom Planika has a number of smaller rooms in addition to dorms, and we were able to have a private room for the five of us.
Dinner was hearty Slovenian mountain food: we all opted goulash, bread and polenta. George and I are Coeliac and therefore must eat a gluten-free diet. Although our options were rather limited, the hut was able provide gluten-free food for us, and were eager to accommodate our dietary needs. With our stomachs full, we headed to bed early, tired from a long day of walking and wanting to rest in anticipation of the day ahead.
Sunrise Ascent of Mount Triglav
We opted for an early ascent to make the summit at sunrise. This meant waking up at 4am and heading off in the darkness. We were able to leave some of our equipment behind at Dom Planika, so could travel lighter with only the essentials we needed. It was amazing how quickly our eyes became adjusted to the darkness: we could turn off our headtorches fairly quickly.
The path from Dom Planika heads north towards the main ridgeline, which we reached after around an hour. Once on the ridge, the views were breath-taking, with the sun just starting to come up.
The path follows the ridge to the west, first over Mali Triglav (little Triglav) and then on to the main summit. This section requires a good head for heights as the north wall of Triglav drops a mighty 2,000m down to the Vrata Valley. The route is well protected with cables, so it is possible to clip on using via ferrata equipment. It certainly feels like an adventure!
Arriving at the Top of Triglav
We arrived on the top at 6:45 am in brilliant early morning sunshine. The clear skies meant we could see far into the distance, taking in the rugged beauty of the Julian Alps.
Lots of photos followed, and we were briefly the only people on top, and therefore the highest 5 people in the whole of Slovenia!
The small shelter on the top is called Aljažev Stolp (Aljaz Tower). It was erected in 1895 by Jakob Aljaz, a Slovenian Priest, who at the time owned the land which makes up the summit. There is a replica of the tower located in Stara Fužina, just outside the Mercartor shop – easier to get to if you’re curious to see what the tower is like!
We opted to take a different path down, completing the horseshoe. This was a similar technical difficulty to the way up: a few exposed sections, but well protected. This meant we avoided having to cross over with people climbing up the ridge that we had ascended earlier.
Back at Dom Planika, breakfast had never tasted so good! With our stomachs full of eggs, bread and strong coffee, we picked up the rest of our stuff and started our descent. We followed the signposts for Triglav Lakes Valley. The landscape was barren, and we had to gain height as well as lose it.
A final steep ascent over a scree slope brought us to Cez Hribarice pass, which sits at the very top of the Triglav Lakes Valley. Instead of going down past the lakes, we took the valley to the East, Za Kopico. By this point, we had descended into the clouds, and partway down, the heavens finally opened, drenching us with rain. A reminder of how quickly the weather can change in the mountains – we were all grateful of our waterproofs!
The bad weather did nothing to take away from the stunning scenery, and picking a quieter route gave us a few hours without seeing any other hikers.
Our end destination was Blato, an alpine pasture where some locals have weekend houses. It is accessible by a (very twisty) toll road up from Stara Fužina, and another of the Hop-on-Hop-off buses. The bus saves you the toll, and the stress of a twisty drive and finding a parking space. We arrived at Blato at 4.30pm, giving us plenty of time to wait for the 5pm bus. We were all tired by this point: it had been a long day of hiking.
A Sting in the Tail
5pm came and went. There was no sign of a bus. After waiting an additional 15 minutes, we decided it would be best to start walking down the road back home to Stara Fužina. Ten minutes into our walk, we got to a junction in the road and saw a bus stop: we had been waiting for the bus in the wrong place! A lesson learnt for next time, and a mistake we won’t repeat…
Missing the bus meant an extra 7km and 600m of descent back down to the valley, a prospect which made Charlie’s face drop dramatically. However, once we got going again after a snack and some water, he powered along, and we all arrived back in the valley at 7pm. By this point, the weather had cleared again, and as we walked over the bridge outside Escape to Bohinj House we could see all the way up to the summit of Triglav. We all felt elated to think we had been all the way up there just that morning, and the energy and excitement made up for the tiredness of our legs.
Now that we were all safely back, the only things left to do were unpack our rucksacks, shower and drive to Pr Košnik for the obligatory post-hike pizza. Our hike up Triglav was certainly an adventure, and a great two days to share together as a family.
Have you climbed Triglav? Are you planning to climb it? Get in touch if you have any questions!