When climbing champions first met

It was at the afterparty of World Championships in Bern 2023 were the idea for a joint training started to shape among the climbing stars. For Janja it had been an amazing event which saw her performances awarded with two golden and one silver medal. The most precious thing for her however weren’t the medals that were hung around her neck, but the fact that her win in the Combined format had secured her ticket to the Olympics in Paris. Brooke Raboutou, one of Janja’s closest friends on the World Cup circuit, had also performed well in the Combined format but ended up in unrewarding 4th place, narrowly missing Olympic qualification, as only those on the podium were rewarded a spot on the roster for Paris. The bronze medal in Bouldering which Brooke had won just a few days earlier couldn’t quite make up for the disappointment of the moment, it goes without saying that the Olympic ticket had also been her main objective.

janja in brooke v steni

 

“I don’t quite remember how it all came about at this after party, but at some point, both Brooke and I were crying.” Janja recalls. It wasn’t tears of sadness but more just emotions that seemed to get the better of the two young champions, with the pressure releasing at the end of a big event. In the heat of the moment, Janja just bursted out with an idea that had existed for years but never became a reality: “You should finally come to Slovenia and train with me next year!”

Get to know Janja Garnbret

Outwardly simple and modest, but inwardly a determined, focused perfectionist who knows her purpose—climbing. By the tender age of 22, she became a legend, hailed as the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T.) in sport climbing. She has claimed every major victory in the sport. Discover the story of this extraordinary athlete who is redefining the boundaries of sport climbing.

More about Janja Garnbret

The beginning of a friendship

The fact that Janja and Brooke became friends certainly didn’t have anything to do with their way into climbing. Janja’s parents didn’t even know the sport of climbing existed, when their girl asked to be signed up for local event near their home in Slovenj Gradec, Koroška.

 

This was totally different for Brooke, who was basically born into climbing. Her American mother Robyn Erbesfield was the most dominant competitive climber in the nineties and her father Didier Raboutou from France has competitive success plus notable first ascents on rock attached to his name. Brooke and her elder brother Shawn pretty much grew up with climbing shoes on their feet, swinging in harnesses and scrambling around some of the most famous crags around the world throughout their childhood-days before becoming professionals in their teenage years.

janja in brooke

 

Even before Janja and Brooke would meet for the first time at the World Youth Championship in Arco 2015, word had spread about their respective abilities in the closely connected climbing scene worldwide. The young girl with American French heritage including the perfect climbing DNA to her name on the one hand, and the girl from rural Slovenia with the talent and will-power to redefine the sport on the other. Already back then, neither of the girls cared much about hearsay, but more so felt a “natural connection” from the start that would soon become friendship.

Slovenia has a sporting heart

Slovenia is a true global phenomenon in terms of sports, consistently producing top-tier athletes who achieve remarkable success. The list of Slovenian athletes who have excelled in their disciplines is extensive and ever-growing. However, these athletes are not are not stopping at winning medals; they are continually setting new records and drawing international attention. Meet some of the most celebrated names in Slovenian sport, individuals who have captivated the hearts of sports fans worldwide.

Explore

The plan is shaping

From 2019 onwards they connected on a regular basis through the World Cup circuit. Despite both being competitors at heart, the mutual drive to deliver and perform to the best of their abilities on the wall never got in the way of their friendship. “It is both of our profession, so if you enter a World Cup or a Championship you want to be competitive and try to win, but with Janja it has always been that good kind of competition.” Brooke outlines. “In climbing, it is the route you fight against and not the other climbers. With Brooke, our mutual wish to perform well never got in the way of us getting along.”

 

As shared climbing sessions aside of the competitions they participated in remained sparse, Janja’s coach Roman Krajnik had already discussed a joint training session with Brooke’s mother Robyn some years ago. This meant things started shaping up quickly after the girls gave the idea fresh momentum end of 2023.

janja in brooke

Combining training with enjoyment in Slovenia

“The track record of Slovenian success in climbing was very remarkable even before Janja stepped onto the stage.” Brooke puts things into perspective, adding “Working hard just seems to be part of the Slovenian mentality.” When Brooke arrived to Slovenia for a two week stay in March 2024, she knew that she was in for long days in the gym. “Brooke brought her coach, so it ended up becoming a hybrid of both of our routines. Plus the fun that you can only have if you are training together.”

 

When attending the training sessions of these two women who inspire thousands of young climbers across the globe, you quickly notice that the eagerness to improve and bring your best to the wall doesn’t compromise the ability of having fun. While eyes remain sharp and focused on the climbs their coaches have in mind for them, mouth and cheeks show more than an occasional smile or smirk which despite being hard on themselves in their work let’s their passion shine through. “I was never forced into anything, I do it because I love it.” Brooke describes. “One could never put in as many hours as we do if it wasn’t true passion. I just know that once I would lose the fun than I could no longer be successful.” Janja adds.

janja in brooke

 

Brooke had been to Slovenia before, but she had never visited Ljubljana. So it was clear how their rest days would be spent. Janja and Brooke strolled by Ljubljanica river several times, hopping on and off the Kavaliers, the small electric busses that basically make it easy for anyone to get through town. “As Brooke is a coffee lover too I had to take her to some of my favorite places to get a taste for local roasts and some typical sweets.” Janja describes the typical rest day agenda. “Working hard and enjoyment seems to go together very well here.” Brooks reminisces with a smile, “I loved the historical city center. You don’t even have to visit a museum to feel the cultural vibe.“

Ljubljana - Slovenia's green capital

Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, is one of Europe's most charming and green cities and it's easy to fall in love with it. You'll be enchanted by the architectural masterpieces of Jože Plečnik, the vibrant pulse of the Ljubljanica River, and the picturesque streets that guide you to the majestic Ljubljana Castle and its inviting green oases. Additionally, the city offers numerous exciting culinary delights and unique experiences that will leave you with lasting memories.

Explore

The promise to be back

The downside of the good times was the fact that two weeks flew by in no time. While with Brooke’s departure both girls went back to their normal routines, it won’t be long till the two friends will reunite on Slovenian turf. “I’ll certainly be back, the World Cup in Koper so close by the ocean is one of these events no one wants to miss, so I hope my schedule lines up to be back for the amazing atmosphere.” Brooke promises.

While Janja has her eyes fixed on the Olympics, Brooke is attending the IFSC’s Olympic Qualifier Series hoping to grasp one of these last tickets that will take her to Paris. “I’m confident she will qualify. I would be really surprised to not see Brooke in Paris.” Janja says, adding “And once her ticket is secured, who knows, maybe she will come by for another quick visit to train with me. Fun and good times would certainly be guaranteed!”

janja in brooke

Janja as an inspiration

Explore Slovenia with the world's best sport climber. Discover what Janja has in common with a world-renowned chef and discover the beauty of Janja's home region of Koroška.

Janja Garnbret and Ana Roš – an inspiring connection between gastronomy and sports

What do the top sports climber Janja Garnbret and chef Ana Roš have in common?

Janja Garnbret and Ana Roš – an inspiring connection between gastronomy and sports

More

Janja Garnbret and Tjaša Slemenšek discover Koroška

Unforgettable experiences of Carinthia through the eyes of the queen of sport climbing and her best friend.

Janja Garnbret and Tjaša Slemenšek discover Koroška

More

Top climbing destinations in Slovenia

Slovenia is home to numerous elite sport climbers who have refined their talents on artificial walls throughout the country. From school gyms featuring climbing walls to dedicated climbing centres open to visitors, Slovenia offers a diverse range of options for climbers. Explore some of the top climbing destinations waiting to be discovered.

Slovenia: A playground for outdoor adventures

Diverse landscapes make Slovenia an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts to explore its natural wonders. From long-distance hiking trails to challenging cycling routes and adrenaline-fueled adventures, Slovenia offers the perfect playground for exciting active experiences.

Active holidays

Discover the world of active outdoor adventures in Slovenia.

Active holidays

More

Hiking and Mountaineering

Slovenia is a hiking paradise. More than 10,000 kilometres of marked hiking trails.

Hiking and Mountaineering

More

Slovenia – top hiking destination

Hiking in Slovenia rules! Find out why.

Slovenia – top hiking destination

More

Safely into the mountains

Follow the instructions for safe hiking in the mountains.

Safely into the mountains

More

Ten reasons to go cycling in Slovenia

Discover why it is worth choosing Slovenia for your cycling holiday.

Ten reasons to go cycling in Slovenia

More

Water activities

Vacation by rivers, lakes, in thermal spas or at the seaside.

Water activities

More

Top reasons to visit Slovenia for adrenaline junkies

In need of adrenaline-filled adventures? Choose your favourite!

Top reasons to visit Slovenia for adrenaline junkies

More

Spend holidays in the embrace of nature

Create your own unforgettable holiday in nature by enjoying the pleasant environment of Slovenia’s camping and glamping sites.

Spend holidays in the embrace of nature

More

Stories from Slovenia

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive a green piece of Slovenia in your inbox, and learn about holidays, seasonal offers, upcoming events and travel options.

Share with friends