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Slovenia, Winter 2024

On Saturday the 20th of January, members of the Young Alpinist Group began to arrive in Slovenia, psyched for 10 days climbing in the Julian Alps. 


The area had seen excellent conditions in recent weeks, but the team arrived to find these buried in fresh powder. This proved to be excellent skiing conditions and guided by our Slovenian hosts, we split into teams to explore the local area, admire big North faces, and make plans for the coming days.


Monday the 22nd offered the first opportunity for climbing. Two teams headed for mixed routes at Nad Šitom Glava: Bor and Adam climbed Smer Po Zajedi, while James and Anna tackled a combination of Tandara Mandara and Kranjska poč. Both teams embraced Scottish conditions, with heavy spindrift, strong wind and buried gear placements. Naoise, Sinead and Iain from the YAG teamed up with locals Domen and Andrej to seek out some steep Italian ice, but were unfortunately turned back by strong winds and falling daggers.

Inspired by the conditions they had seen on their Sunday ski tour, Tom and Gašper approached the bivouac underneath the Triglav North face on Monday afternoon, and raced up Sanjski Ozebnik the next day, bagging the first Triglav-summit of the trip. Meanwhile, Andrej, Domen and Sinead headed for a two day ascent of Sirokapec Central, complete with a cosy snow-field bivvy on Tuesday night. After approaching to the bivouac on Tuesday, Kristoff, Iain and Michael climbed the Direktna smer on Spik, on the 24th, an ascent which was followed through binoculars by the climbers resting down in Gozd Martuljek.


Unfortunately, this string of inspiring ascents was put on pause by rising temperatures: snow and ice conditions deteriorated, leading to Naoise and Martin turning back from an attempt on Zajeda Šite and Adam, James and Urša retreating from their attempt at Spik. However, spirits stayed high thanks to an inspiring talk by Marco Prezelj who shared poignant advice gained from a lifetime of epic climbing. On Thursday, the team resorted to dry tooling while waiting for conditions to improve.


Friday was a day for big plans and Iain, James, Urša, Domen, Anna, Misha, Naoise and Bor all approached to the bivouac under Triglav North face. After a 2am wake-up, Misha, Naoise and Bor had an unforgettable (but potentially somewhat haunting) experience on Sanjski Ozebnik. Domen, Urša and Anna tackled Skalaška over an eventful day (and a half…), reaching the top of the route shortly before 4am - over 22 hours after setting off on the first pitch. James and Iain enjoyed a more leisurely day, leaving the bivouac at 5am before strolling up the German route and enjoying some summit pints. In the meantime, Gašper and Tom took on another big line, climbing Cozzolinijeva Zajeda on Mangart over Friday and Saturday. 

Sunday was a day for rest, and the house in Gozd Martuljek was filled with many satisfied climbers. While most of the group ate and slept, however, Anja, Sebastjan, Sinead and Michael made more big plans. On Monday, they climbed Drežniška on Loška stena as a rope party of four, making its first winter ascent. Back in the valley, James, Anna, Iain and Tom took it easy with a day of sunny sport climbing. That evening, it was Misha’s turn to present his climbing story, with tales which left the team psyched and in awe.


On Tuesday morning, Naoise and Kristof made a rapid ascent of Kavkin Slap on Stenar, while the remainder of the group rounded off the trip by going for a leisurely walk, drinking hot chocolate, and laughing at James and Anna having a very cold swim.


All in, it was an incredible 10 days. The climbing was excellent, but more importantly, so was the company and hospitality offered by the local Slovenian alpinists. By the end of the trip, we all agreed on three powerful messages, emphasised by Marco, Misha and our own experiences: when climbing, style matters, people matter, and piton hammers are great :)


The UK team were generously hosted by and climbed with Gašpar, Marco, Misha, Bor, Doman, Andrej, Anja, Urša, Kristof, Sebastjan, Patricija and Martin.

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