It is hard to explain how someone gets here. Some planning and training is required, of course, but I would say, once again, it is the sheer willpower that counts most. You gotta be thinking about something continuosly, you got to be dreaming about the place, be kinda obsessed about it. Your goal then becomes a part of you. From the start of my mountaineering adventures, I was prone to this kind of behaviour. I see it also in my companions, that fire in the eyes – fear is present but the look says: COWABUNGA!

Triglav welcomes you, travelers

Planning and dreaming started almost a year ago. It was important to determine that we want to do it, but considering the popularity of a summer ascend to the highest peak of Slovenia, one of the first things you should do is to set the date (gods of chaos help you with that, it is a pure gamble – sometimes you win and you get good weather and sometimes you have to cancel the hike because of the bad weather conditions) and make a reservation at Kredarica mountaneering hut. Kredarica works only four months during the year (June, July, August and September) which makes winter ascends even harder. Kredarica, being 300 metres below the peaks of Mali and Veliki Triglav, is packed full! So, if you don’t want to sleep on the floor of the dining/living room, be advised to make that reservation. For our first time (prvič in slovenian), we decided to do a summer ascend during the most popular and safest month to do it – August. Because of the constant threat of rain (slippery rocks), and with the floods that created almost an ecological catastrophe in our fellow Slovenia a week ago, we decided to take the „easiest“ route to the top – from Pokljuka, Rudno fields.

Fellowship forming a defense line at the foothold of the Studorski preval

You see, there is no way Kant was wrong about... wait, did I leave the stove on?!?

The Fellowship is well known by now: my dear cousins Vida and Marta, their boyfriends Boris and Marko, and, of course, my brave companion Anuška. We have been training and we have been in constant contact, planning our „family“ hikes so we would be familiar with the terrain that awaits us. Everybody had their own way of preparing – some of us were running, going to gym, swimming, playing some badminton but most importantly hiking. Everybody also had their own fears. The most drastic case of transformation was probably Marko who is (was!) afraid of heights. Imagine that! I will repeat: willpower.

BREAKING THE ROUTE WHILE THE ROUTE TRIES TO BREAK YOU

It is a two and a half hour drive from Zagreb to Pokljuka. There is a free parking near the military barracks. The route is well marked, you cannot miss the right turn into the forest when you start walking. The first part of the route goes through the forest where we met some lovely cows. I felt a little bit tense because it was only the start of the route and after all, this is a route towards Triglav. The Slovenians sometimes call it „the forefather“ (of all their mountains), and this route we decided to follow was the „easiest“ of the routes leading to Triglav. Well, you could say that but none of the routes to Triglav are easy. When it gets to mountaineering, maybe Slovenians have some genetic advantage over other non-Alpine people, but everyone should prepare for Triglav. Some endurance is needed to really enjoy the trail and not just die many times during the ascend (or descend, but we will get there).

Over the Studorski preval

Towards the Vodnik hut, through the mist and with helmets on

Visuals on the target

Wherever you turn, the views are amazing

The march to Vodnik is almost done

After hour and a half of walking through the forest, always gradually gaining elevation, you will get to a place called Studorski preval (eng. Studor saddle). It looks more scary than it is. Only after climbing to the saddle, you will have to walk another hour and a half all around the mountain to reach Vodnik mountaineering hut. We called it the first milestone, psychologically speaking. You can refill your water there, take a dump or get some other refreshment or kind of relief. Vodnik is in a beautiful place, no doubt about that, but Vodnik was just a passing point for us. We need to continue pushing through.

The Fellowship at Vodnik, 3 hours into the hike

ENTER THE KARST DESERT

Not considering the usual sweating happening during hiking, in the second three hours of our way up to Kredarica, it got a little hotter. We managed to stray off the path so we had to climb back to the route. It is actually not our fault because when we were returning back, we saw more people trying to find their way up. It is as if the route is marked to a certain point and then the marks disappear. So, after the signposts some 15 to 20 minutes after Vodnik, be careful! We lost some energy during our return to the right path.

Soon after the Vodnik, it gets more serious

Triglav welcomes you

The mountain wall opposing Triglav is also a sight to behold

We continue our climb through the barren lands – that was Triglav showing his true nature, we were surely entering his kingdom now. There is this one part which has ferratas but also wedges on which you need to step to pass through the other side. We called this place Marta’s part because she was afraid it would be slippery – not only because of the possible rain on the other day of our adventure but also because she has older hiking boots so her soles are worn out. Everything went well and we concluded that it looked scarier on the photographs than it really was.

Marta's part

Getting through Marta's part, it is not so dangerous as it seems on the photographs available on the Internet

Mighty Slovenian on his way to visit the forefather, on the way to become a true Slovenian

We were tired, it’s true. You cannot be fresh after 6+ hours of walking. Our backs and legs were hurting. My backpack had 10 kilos but my „kapha“ (one of the body types according to the Indians – Indians from India, not from America) nature was kicking in. We „kaphas“ are made for this, built like mules. Sun was shining but we were literally inside a cloud. Wind was blowing and all in all it was an ideal weather for this part of the ascend. We knew that we were close to Kredarica, maybe the most famous mountaineering hut in all of Slovenia because it was right under the peaks of Mali and Veliki Triglav. We met some hikers from Zagreb and they said we are close but we will still have to face something called „the Calvary“.

Looking cool while climbing towards Triglav is not necessary but it is commendable

Again, with our heads in the clouds. Helmets protect us from getting too idealistic

The absent minded looks towards the ground, the beast gnaws and claws

Just to put you in the perspective of the Calvary

The final push towards Kredarica

If arriving to Kredarica is your goal, the Calvary is the boss fight. You are tired from walking, your potions are almost empty and there it is – a steep serpentine path to the victory (or defeat). Fellowship was losing spirit and it was time to boost the morale a little bit. I started pushing and it wasn’t a lie when I said „just a little bit more to our goal friends“. Our knees and backs were shaken but the beast fell and we soon saw the wind turbines of Kredarica. We were here. Kredarica will be our home for tonight. We will be feasting and sleeping at the foothold of the king.

Now they deserve to rest, heads can now rest in the clouds. The worst for today has passed

THE KREDARICA FILES

Kredarica is a truly majestic mountaineering hut. It is situated between peaks of Triglav and Rjavina. Hundred and sixty people can sleep in Kredarica in the joint sleeping bunks and there are also hundred and forty beds in total of thirty rooms. Kredarica was made bigger many times but today’s appearance it got in 1984. The history of this, most famous and most visited in Slovenia, mountaneering hut is rich. It’s future mostly depends on the ecological dangers and found solutions. When you look at Kredarica, Planika or Valentin Stanič mountaneering hut, you see oases in a sea of karst. It is pretty unbelievable such buildings even exist. Nevertheless, the presence of people and civilization destroys the mountain world which is fragile and not used to human, mostly bad, influence. This is why we have solar panels and wind turbines. This is probably why we have the so called dry toilet solutions.

Majestic Kredarica below peaks of Mali Triglav (left) and Veliki Triglav (right)

They even have an address so you can write and send a letter when you miss Kredarica and Triglav

Just a short remark: you cannot expect to have the luxury of the valley when you are 2500 metres above sea level. Luxury of the valley is also probably the reason why you would almost puke when you enter the toilet for men in Kredarica. First there is the strong smell and then you realize you don’t want to sit down on the toilet, so you poop while standing up and your legs already hurt from 6 hours of hiking. You are trying to make it as fast as possible, there is not much enjoyment in it, there is no time to scroll down on Facebook or Instagram or whatever you use to make yourself entertained (and dumb). Why would you look „down the drain“ I don’t really know, but I did it. There is a mountain of shit under Kredarica, a shit pit.

It is getting crowded at Kredarica but we still managed to arrive before the rush hour

Enjoying Slovenian beer at Kreda

Then you stagger to the shared sinks and you wash your hands in the cold (rain) water. There is a sign above the sinks: NOT FOR DRINKING. You have to buy bottled water in Kredarica but who drinks water when there is beer or maybe Union Radler Isotonic – the drink that will maybe save me from alcoholism. Or not, because you cannot buy this refreshing beverage in Croatia, only in Slovenia.

The man responsible for starting it all

Three alive men, responsible for self-inflicting pain but also for glory that comes as a reward

Was this absolutely necessary to live my life to the fullest?!?

Slovenians are well known for having more vegetarian and vegan restaurants than Croats. It is as they are more tolerant and realized sooner that the veggie diet is getting more and more popular and that is actually, yes, hard to swallow pills, better for the environment. But of course, there are always some problems. Mountaineers are not only known for their huge drinking capacities but also for their bellies that are sometimes referred to as being bottomless. When you are hiking, you need strong* food and we live in times when diets containing meat are still considered as being better in that aspect. So, yes, Kredarica offers something for vegetarians but still much less than for the carnivores. Marta ordered Slovenian jota without meat but she still got meat in it in small quantities. I am used to sometimes eat bacon in various mountaineering stews because they cook it all in the same big pot, you just cannot avoid it. The bean stew was a classic but also contained meat, even when I said to the waiter that I don’t want any meat. Dinner was practically the same as lunch but there was an option of macaroni with vegetables and parmesan cheese. We all got panna cotta for dessert and some of us ordered pancakes with chocolate. The luxury at 2500 metres is just amazing.

Slovenian jota - this one was for dinner and was with no meat, they corrected themselves, it is alright

Macs with veggies and meat. Also Panna cottas all around

Some people were playing cards, talking and drinking but we decided to go to sleep early. We were tired and there was not so much to do except drinking and talking. Our room had a bunk bed but the beds were pretty big and comfortable. It seemed to me it was meant for four persons, not just two. But the space for anything else in the room was lacking, which is okay.

An example of a room with three beds in Kredarica

The window in our room was small but just big enough to look at the helicopter which, unfortunately, had to search for someone below Mali Triglav. Some unpleasant feeling crawled under our skin and I asked Anuška if this was really a place for two hobbits who like to eat and sleep in their beds at home, at peace? It was probably the fatigue doing the thinking and talking. And the toxic fumes spreading from our hiking boots and socks. I can’t remember when was the last time I went to sleep dirty, sweaty and smelly.

THE KING’S AUDIENCE

It was a restless sleep, always changing positions and never being able to calm down. Around 3 AM, Annie and I went to the dry toilet pit and when we returned to our room I said: “I cannot sleep with this glorious rock standing right beside us“. The morning came quick. Back to the pit, brushing teeth, trying to eat something, preparing the climbing backpacks, putting on the safety/ferrata sets… We were ready for the final push.

Early morning view of Mali and Veliki Triglav

Feeling of waking up with such a view is absolutely amazing, you need to experience it

Layer of clouds over everything, we are in heaven then

I understand why people are a little bit scared and nervous when they go to Triglav for the first time. It is a long hike, that is for sure. Probably the longest you have experienced until this point in your hiking career – if you are afraid, of course. Because of the last hour and a half maximum is only via ferrata and the safety sets are recommended, people don’t relax until the end.

The Fellowship before the climb

Kredarica hiding the sun

The perspective - the rock is big, a man is small. Even more so, he is afraid of heights but he conquers his fears and continues

You will see a lot of memorial plaques, many people have died here because they fell down or even more who were thunderstruck. It is sad to see that young people, only children really, of age 15 and 16 died here because of the weather. The problem with Triglav is mostly a logistical one – if you want to make things easier for yourself and your companions, you should really book a room in Kredarica or Planika. The problem is that you need to book it almost half a year or even more in advance because they are full all the time. So, people plan in advance, totally unknowing of the weather conditions. „Oh, but we must go. We have planned it for so long!“ – this is probably the start of a tragic story. Maybe I was the most cautious in our group but I think it was more than justified. Yes, hiking should be enjoyment (when you ignore all the pain and suffering involved, of course) but the weather conditions should be perfect if you want to be sure and ready for Triglav.

At the beginning of the climb

It is all right with the Sajla Man!

Towards Mali Triglav still...

Being careful is always a smart thing to do but I dare to say it again: we had perfect weather conditions. Climbing through the desert under the watchful eye of a cloud and then climbing Mali and Veliki Triglav early on a clear morning, around 6 AM. We advanced pretty quickly, everyone just wanted to be done with it – to stand under the embrace of Triglav, saying: we did it! One rock after the other, turn after turn, wondering sometimes where is the end, narrow mountain backbone towards Veliki Triglav, sometimes dangerous passing by others who descend, a strong urge to take a piss… ah, yes, I found an ideal rock near Veliki Triglav, put my weener between the stones and let it rip. No one was present and it was the number one with the best view in my whole life!

It is always a good time to release your inner child and fool around

Up, up we go!

Veliki Triglav in sight!

Just a little bit to the top...

Through the narrow path - that little thingy far back in the picture, on the peak, that is Aljažev stolp - our goal is near

Mali Triglav in the back, views are... undescribable, I tell you

The moment has come. Fellowship was standing united, we were on Triglav. We shook hands, some smiles and hugs were exchanged. I must say, I am very proud to be a part of such a crew, my crew. There were many obstacles in the way, there were many fears and as a person who has some experience with the mountaineering and feelings that mountains can arouse in people, especially those new to the experiences, I can say that we did a pretty good job. Maybe it is obsolete to say it, but it is important to finish what you have started. I am glad we climbed Triglav, it gives us a new perspective and new possibilities are presenting themselves. Fear is gone. Now my fellowship knows they can do it. It was empowering to say the least.

First the obligatory picture at Aljažev stolp, of course

King Triglav - top of Slovenia

Everyone is taking pictures, everyone is happy and smiling. It is truly a happy place, this Triglav

The crew at the top. Hint - don't move your head too fast when somebody is taking a panorama photo :D

The perspective - way from Kredarica to Veliki Triglav

The sea of clouds and the grandpa who had three beer too much but it is his 14th time on top of Triglav so we understand the hype

Anywhere you turn, it is amazing

After taking some solo and group photos at Aljažev stolp (actually a small shelter for up to four people, so they say, on top of the Triglav) and after finally seeing the man who sells beer and cola at the top (a can of Laško beer is around 15 euros I think, most expensive Laško I have ever seen), we quickly descended.

The funny guy that sells beer and cola at the top of Triglav. You can also get the stamp and a certificate that you were at the top - for a small fee of course...

Once again, we need to get down there

Remember Marko who was afraid of heights? The guy was now faster than me! We stormed the descend, and soon we were drinking and eating breakfast at Kredarica again. Actually, maybe the speed was not only because of the power we got from climbing Triglav but also from the fact that Kredarica serves breakfast only to 10 AM so we needed to be fast. We got our breakfast which was pretty poor for something you pay 25 euros for. The portion of eggs for six people was inadequate and the rest was just bread and various types of spread, sweet and salty. So, we were not so much amazed by the breakfast. Breakfast at the mountaineering hut under Storžič was better. Nevermind, the Union Radler Isotonic was still the best thing in the universe!

A little bit of rest on the way down

Two chamois near Kredarica found some delicious roots to eat

We repacked our things and decided it is time to go home. The feelings of happiness were still here but I think that most of us still weren’t aware and fully conscious of what we just did. Also, the way ahead was, again, a long one. The tempo was strong, but this time there were no clouds to shield us from the burning sun. The day of the return was also much hotter than the day of arrival. We were drinking huge amounts of water. On the way to Vodnik’s hut, we sat down and enjoyed the view of cows grazing. One particular, curious cow came closer and started licking my backpack (because of the salt from the sweat) but then she decided that she likes the backpack and almost carried it away. We took it from her and it was a weird and funny moment. Naughty cow, no, this is mine!

Look at them go without helmets and safety sets, conquering Marta's part with ease and speed!

The cow in the center is the naughty cow!

We sat down again at Studorski preval, exhausted. The last hour and a half of the return was like climbing Mt. Doom (or returning to Shire?). The legs were on automatic, the weight of our bodies was getting heavier, the soles were burning inside of the boots. After all, it was around eighth or ninth hour of hiking this day (including getting up and down Triglav sequence). When we finally got to the cars, there were sighs of relief and we just sat there for a while. The plan was to go and swim in the lake of Bled but the destiny had other plans (Marta and Marko went to take a dip in the end, the rest of us… well, thank god we came home). We made a family photo, a young bull was chasing Marko around the cars, we said a quick goodbye – see you soon and sat into the cars. Full throttle towards home. Heart was full of Triglav.

Family photo at the end of the adventure

Already leaving friends? Can I have backpack?

p.s. – half of our fellowship experienced some digestive problems day after the return (headache, stomachache, diarrhea, even fever). Our best guess is because of the bacteria in the water, so please be careful with the water, carry your own and try using it even when you brush your teeth. Everyone is fine now and we are already making plans for future mountaineering trips. Such is the nature of a passionate mountaineer – always hungry, it is never enough. See you in the mountains!

About the Author: Borna

Borna is a student of philosophy. He loves mountains, books, and video games and is in possession of a pretty awesome LEGO collection. Listens to music almost all the time but also likes the silence. You will probably find him reading a book, roaming the mountains of RL, or trying to bring home bounty in the vast swamps of Bayou.
4 Comments
  1. Adrian August 19, 2023 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Fantastic! Excellent story, even better pictures, Congratulation to the whole fellowship!

  2. Peter August 20, 2023 at 10:48 am - Reply

    Bravo fellowship – wonderfull description and photos, very inviting!

  3. Mario August 21, 2023 at 8:06 am - Reply

    Very nice trip. And the views are amazing!

  4. Borna August 21, 2023 at 8:46 am - Reply

    @Adrian: the Fellowship invites you to join us sometimes, there are many beautiful places in S(LOVE)nia!

    @Peter: Hej Hej! Kdor ne skače ni Slovenc!

    @Mario: We had the perfect weather, yes. Blessed by the Gods of the mountain and king Triglav ;)

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