Carefully into the mountains

We’re certain that many images of Slovenian mountains have the wow effect that you want to share with the world, but that shouldn’t distract you from thinking first about your safety, fitness and carefulness when planning your trip. An old Slovenian saying goes “a mountain isn’t crazy, crazy is the person climbing it”. Especially the person who’s not equipped appropriately and therefore unprepared. Numerous hazards lurking in the mountains can turn a wonderful experience of an authentic communion with nature into an ordeal resulting in suffering, injury, or worse.

That’s why you should set out into the mountains with a great deal of respect and cautiousness, while being appropriately equipped, healthy and physically fit.

To really safely enjoy the vast vistas viewed from Slovenian peaks, read the facts about Slovenian mountains, what you must pay special attention to, how to prepare for a trip into the mountains, which trail to choose, how to behave in the mountains and what can be helpful when planning your trip.

Recommendations of the Alpine Association of Slovenia for safer mountaineering

oblikovanost slovenskih gora
Photo: Alex Strohl

DNA of Slovenian mountains

To start off, learn some facts about Slovenian mountains.

Slovenia is a very diverse country in which the terrain rises to an altitude of 2,864m, the height of the tallest peak, Mt Triglav.

As many as 352 peaks are higher than 2,000m.

The Slovenian high mountains with peaks reaching more than 1,500m are divided into three mountain ranges, i.e. the Karavanke, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Julian Alps. The area of Mt Snežnik in the south-east also reaches above 1,500m.

Although the Slovenian Alps are somewhat lower than elsewhere in Europe, they have their own peculiarities and these play a crucial role when planning routes and trips in the mountains.

SUDDEN CHANGE IN WEATHER

The Slovenian Alps are the first barrier for air masses moving up from the Mediterranean, which causes the weather to change abruptly from a warm sunny day to a (snow) storm.

WINTER IN THE MOUNTAINS LASTS LONGER

Winter in the mountains can extend well into spring, even until June in the high mountains. Winter conditions can sometimes be encountered as early as autumn and even in late summer.

SLOVENIAN ALPS ARE FRIABLE

The Slovenian mountains are mostly composed of limestone, which causes them to crumble and consequently makes them more challenging and unpredictable.

DEEP VALLEYS

Glacial and river valleys in the Alpine world are usually cut deep into the terrain, which means that the ascent from the starting point in the valley to the summit may be 1,000 metres or more.

Although no Slovenian peaks exceed 3,000 metres in height, the configuration and complexity of the terrain is comparable to those of the highest Alpine ranges. The easternmost glacier in the Alps, which is also one of the lowest lying Alpine glaciers, can be found in the Slovenian Alps. It’s situated below Mt Skuta and stretches between 2,010 and 2,120 metres.

izberite ustrezno pot
Photo: Jošt Gantar

Choose your route carefully

The Slovenian territory is interspersed with more than 10,000km of hiking and mountain trails in high- and medium-altitude mountains and in the lowlands. Furthermore, there’s approximately 5,000km of themed trails. With regard to their difficulty level, mountain trails are divided into three groups: easy, difficult and very difficult. The general assessment of difficulty takes into account various factors, such as the length of the trail, difference in altitude and exposure.

The actual perception of difficulty is very subjective and depends on people’s knowledge, skills and experience. If a trail is marked as technically easy, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be difficult or even very difficult for certain people. When reading the descriptions of routes on numerous websites and applications, you’ll notice warnings about other aspects of difficulty or peculiarities of trails, even if these are considered technically easy mountain trails.

Trail difficulty is indicated with red lines and dots on the maps and triangles on signposts along the trails (difficult, very difficult trails).

Easy mountain trail

A trail on which you don’t need to use your hands to help you walk. Suitable mountain footwear is required. Hiking poles can be used on the trail.

Difficult mountain trail

There are difficult sections on the trail where hands need to be used. Safeguards intended for the safety of mountaineers are used in dangerous sections. A helmet is mandatory.

Very difficult mountain trail

A trail on which the use of hands is mandatory in order to advance. Sections that are difficult to climb are protected. The safeguards installed enable advancement on the trail. A helmet, a climbing harness and a self-belaying set are mandatory.

Irrespective of the technical difficulty, you have to self-critically and realistically assess whether a certain trail is actually suitable for you. It may happen that a certain trail becomes more challenging for someone due to its length, difference in height, terrain and orientation of the slope.

In Slovenia, very easy can last for a very long time, but it then becomes very, very difficult in a very short time!

Klemen Belhar, Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia

Follow the signposts that keep you on the right track

When you go on a mountain tour, follow the markings along the path. The best-known is the Knafelc marking (white dot in a red circle). The markings are drawn on large trees, rocks and other suitable and prominent places along the trail. There are also signposts at crossroads that indicate the level of difficulty and the estimated walking time. There are special markings for European and themed trails, some of which are additionally marked with their logos.

pohodnistvo v sloveniji_oznake ob poti

If you stray away from the marked paths, don’t continue into the unknown. Don’t venture off the paths!

Ferratas and protected mountain trails

Perhaps it seems that these are the same at first glance, but there’s a difference between the ever more popular ferratas and protected mountain trails. It’s true that wire ropes, pegs and other protective equipment are used in both for safety, including a helmet, a self-belaying set and a climbing harness, but differences exist between the two.

Visit website

Photo: Jošt Gantar
 

Protected mountain trails

are set up in a natural mountain environment and equipped with safeguards, comprised of wire ropes, staples and pegs to help in climbing the most challenging and exposed sections of the mountain trail. However, the safeguards are not installed along the entire trail, but only at the most dangerous sections. There are no safeguards on many demanding and exposed sections of a protected mountain trail.

ferata mojstrana
Photo: Grega Teraž, source: Turizem Kranjska Gora Archive
 

Ferratas

are set up in the natural environment of a rockface in the most advantageous way. They are often placed in the vicinity of tourist centres, next to mountain stopovers or sports parks.

How to plan your trip to the mountains?

A mountain trip must be carefully planned. Think about how long you are prepared to walk, to what altitude you wish to ascend, and what difficulty level matches your physical fitness. Check out the weather forecast, the condition of the trail you plan to take, the opening times of mountain huts, and what equipment is needed. Irrespective of where you go, choose suitable boots with non-slip soles and bring with you a sufficient quantity of (alcohol-free) fluids. Also, check out our list of things to keep in mind before the trip and set out on the trail only after you’ve ticked off all the items on the list.

CONDITIONS IN THE MOUNTAINS

Meteorological conditions in the mountains can change abruptly and it’s very important to check the latest weather forecast before setting out. In doing so, trust only official sources. The current weather forecast for the mountains in Slovenia can be found on the website of the Slovenian Environment Agency. It’s recommended that you set out sufficiently early. In this way, you have more time to solve any complications (equipment malfunctions, loss of orientation, etc.) and avoid possible afternoon storms. If you’re going on a longer trip, learn about the huts and shelters along the way where you can seek refuge in the event of bad weather.

What to do if a storm surprises you in the mountains?

  • Descend from ridges and exposed mountain peaks.
  • Avoid places with wire ropes and metal objects or where the rock is red, as this indicates that it contains metal. Also avoid places where lightning strikes frequently. Such locations can be identified by lone trees, split trees and rocks, and churned ground.
  • Move all metal objects that you have with you to a safe distance of at least 10 metres.
  • Don’t touch the rockface with your body. Position yourself as low to the ground as possible.
  • If you find shelter in a cave or a hollow, the safest place is in the middle of it.
  • The safest position for avoiding lightning strikes is on scree, but lower yourself into a crouch or sit on your backpack.

Summer storms cause sudden cooling. The temperature may drop by 20 degrees or more in a matter of minutes.

Increasingly violent storms and thunderstorms, which leave destruction behind, can also be encountered in Slovenian mountains. Thus, you should always check the current condition of mountain trails.

Current first-hand information

To help you check the situation in the mountains, we gathered for you the most important official links to this data. Nevertheless, pay close attention to any changes in the weather along the way.

WEATHER FORECAST

Slovenian Environment Agency

AVALANCHE REPORT

Crossrisk platform

CONDITION OF MOUNTAIN TRAILS – closed mountain trails

Alpine Association of Slovenia

ustrezna oprema

EQUIPMENT

When you decide on a trip, it’s important to select appropriate equipment. This selection depends on several factors, which primarily involve the level of difficulty of the trail and the conditions in the mountains. It’s very important to be sufficiently hydrated with alcohol-free fluids. Regardless of the trip or trail you select, your equipment must consist of:

Hiking boots with high-quality non-slip soles

Backpack

Alcohol-free drinks and long-lasting high-energy food (e.g. energy bars)

Fully charged mobile phone

Personal identity document

Warm and waterproof clothes (cap, gloves, sweater, anorak, etc.) – this applies even in summer when in high mountains

Personal first aid kit

Mountain map and compass

If venturing on a trip lasting several hours or a whole day, or if setting out on challenging trails, it’s necessary to take with you aluminium foil, a bivouac bag or a large black bag as heat insulation in the event of an accident or when bivouacking, a headlamp and spare batteries, additional clothes to change into, and a climbing helmet. For very difficult routes, self-belaying set and a climbing harness are mandatory. It’s very important to know how to use the equipment correctly, so learn to do so before going into the mountains and check that it’s fully functional.

čelada_plezalni pas_samovarovalni komplet_kofler sport
Climbing helmet, climbing harness and self-belaying set. Source: Gregor Kofler

Don’t forget that you’ll be exposed to the sun in the mountains. Take with you sunglasses, high UV sunscreen and a suitable hat (baseball cap, headscarf, etc.).

Conditions in winter are even more challenging and you’ll need even more equipment. Hiking boots won’t suffice on snowy and icy surfaces, you’ll require crampons and an ice-axe. You should know that classical 12-tooth crampons are suitable for a winter trip in the mountains. Shoe snow chains aren’t a suitable substitute for crampons. However, crampons alone are not enough, you must also always use an ice-axe. But you must also know how to use both correctly. You should keep an avalanche safety kit (beacon, probe and shovel) in your backpack in the winter and know how to use it. You’re also advised to have an avalanche airbag backpack.

lavinski trojcek
An avalanche safety kit, source: Gregor Kofler.
dereze
Classical 12-tooth crampons, source: Gregor Kofler.
cepina
An ice-axe, source: Gregor Kofler.

SELECTION OF A ROUTE

When planning a trip into the mountains, think carefully about what route to choose. It’s important to choose a route that you’ll be able to manage. Think about how long you want to walk, how high you want to ascend, what difficulty level to choose, when to start your trip, which part of Slovenia you want to visit, etc. When considering your options, don’t forget the following:

  • Don’t overestimate your psychophysical readiness and fitness level. If a certain trail seems too difficult or long, opt for an easier and shorter one.
  • Make sure to have all the appropriate equipment for the selected trail.
  • Check if there are mountain huts along the way where you can take a break.
  • Your level of experience and possible fear of heights should also be considered. If you lack experience, you should venture into the mountains with a mountain guide.
  • Check out the current condition of trails. It’s possible that a trail can become impassable practically overnight due to a storm, fallen trees or landslides. Don’t use closed mountain trails.
  • Let people in the valley know where you’re going and when you’re planning to return. Sign your name in summit books and enter your direction of arrival and departure, so that the rescue team will find you more easily in the event of an accident.

USE MAPS AND APPS

During your hike, you can rely on special apps to help you track your planned route, inform you about specific features and provide you with the information you need. But pay attention. Not all apps are suitable. Only trust the apps that use objective, updated and real data and not sources in which the descriptions of mountain trails are mostly subjective and often misleading. The maPZS and Slovenia Outdoor apps are suitable for the Slovenian Alps.

The maPZS app

Download the maPZS app

The Slovenia Outdoor app

Download the Slovenia Outdoor app

z gorskim vodnikom na pot

EN ROUTE WITH A GUIDE

You’re advised to go hiking or mountaineering with a licensed mountain guide for the best and safest experience. Mountain guides are able to advise and guide you on safe paths, make sure that you use the appropriate equipment and guide you safely on mountain peaks or along mountain trails. When choosing a guide, pay attention to their licence and whether it is suitable for the route you’re planning.

Mountain guide

You should choose mountain guides with a suitable licence who are capable of taking you on difficult or very difficult mountain trails, Alpine climbing or ski touring. Slovenian mountain guides also hold the international IFMGA licence.

List of licensed mountain guides

logo gv in IFMGA

Guide of the Alpine Association of Slovenia (PZS)

Mountain guides with the PZS licence can only lead tours for which no climbing equipment is needed and no short roping or climbing with a roped party is required. If you’re planning a tour along easy mountain trails, we advise you to engage a PZS guide.

logo vodnik PZS

rezervirajte mesto v planinski koči
Photo: Jošt Gantar

RESERVATIONS OF MOUNTAIN HUTS

There are 159 mountain huts and lodges and 18 bivouacs in Slovenia. You can find delicious homemade dishes in the majority of huts, while larger huts and lodges also provide overnight accommodation. They usually have dormitory rooms, but more and more huts are now also offering single rooms. The huts also serve as information points in the mountains where visitors can obtain information on the current conditions of the trail and can seek refuge from bad weather. They are also used as points of notification about accidents in the mountains.

The majority of mountain huts are only open in the summer, from May until October. Some of them stay open throughout the year on weekends. Certain huts are particularly popular and quite busy in the summer, so we recommend that you book your bed in the selected hut before going to the mountains.

You can make your reservations through a special system that currently includes 21 of the most popular and visited huts. Upon reservation, the end price of the overnight stay will be shown, which you can pay with a credit card. The reservation can be cancelled free of charge no later than one or two days before your scheduled arrival date, depending on the individual mountain hut.

Book a bed in a mountain hut

Be safe in the mountains in winter, too

It is understandable that the snow-capped peaks are attractive to the eye and that they lure many people out of the valley. But bear in mind that they can also be insidious. The mountain paths are covered in snow and so markings are not visible. Avalanches, icy sections and cornices of snow blown by wind over crests await hikers. If you need an hour to climb a peak in summer, this time at least doubles in winter conditions. Days are shorter, the temperature is lower and wind is more frequent. Conditions in the mountains can change rapidly. Snow presents a huge problem, since you can slip on it, get buried in an avalanche or it can affect visibility to such an extent that you completely lose your sense of direction. Most mountain huts are closed in winter. So here are a few tips about things to check before you head into the snowy mountain idyll.

Check the weather and snow conditions in the mountains. Don't go to the mountains after heavy snowfall or thaws (wait at least three days) due to the increased risk of avalanches.

Choose a tour that suits your physical and mental condition and don't go to the mountains on your own. Inform your family about your planned tour.

As most mountain huts are closed in winter, take plenty of warm non-alcoholic drinks and food with you.

Make sure you have the proper equipment – winter hiking boots, warm clothes, gaiters, ice axe, crampons, avalanche equipment (beacon, probe and shovel). Make sure that the equipment works flawlessly and that you know how to use it properly.

As days are shorter, start the tour early enough and bear in mind that a tour takes longer in winter conditions than in warm weather.

If you are not very skilled at hiking in the mountains and you lack experience, go to the mountains in an organised group led by an experienced and licensed guide. Never go to the mountains on your own, particularly in winter. And don't forget that the natural environment and its residents rest in winter. Be considerate of them, don't disturb them, and allow them to spend winter as peacefully as possible.

The current avalanche report can be found on the Crossrisk platform and the avalanche plugin at www.slovenia.info on the right-hand side or as a special icon in the bottom left corner on mobile devices.

More information

odgovorno v naravo

Respect and protect the natural mountain environment

Nature is truly amazing along the mountain paths, but also very sensitive. A large section of the Julian Alps is situated in Triglav National Park and many areas in the Karavanke and the Kamnik-Savinja Alps are protected as parts of Natura 2000. High peaks are surrounded by green forests at lower altitudes. These cover two thirds of Slovenia and are teeming with life. To minimise the impact on these sensitive ecosystems, it’s necessary to explore them with a great deal of respect and responsibility. Help us preserve the beauty of the mountain landscape and the creatures that live in it and are an integral part of it. Observe the rules for responsible venturing into nature of Triglav National Park and other protected areas.

Instructions for responsible venturing into nature

Follow marked trails

If you stray from marked trails, you risk disturbing the habitats of animals and protected plants.

No camping

Tents and caravans are not allowed in the wilderness. Camping is only allowed in designated campsites.

No swimming in high mountain lakes and streams

As tempting as the beautiful and crystal-clear water may seem, high mountain lakes and streams are sensitive and fragile habitats, and swimming is not allowed. Dogs are also not allowed to swim.

No drone use

The use of drones in the natural environment is prohibited without prior authorisation, despite the stunning footage they can capture.

Please refrain from being a disruptive visitor

Residents and visitors to the park should be able to enjoy peace and quiet. Respect quiet areas.

No open fires

Open fires are strictly prohibited except in designated areas for agricultural and forest protection purposes.

Visitors can only enter the park on foot

Driving, stopping, or parking motor vehicles in the park's natural environment is strictly prohibited. Bicycles are also not allowed except on designated paths.

Dogs must be kept on a leash

Many animals in the park can be disturbed by dogs, so it's important to keep your dog on a leash.

 

Be a responsible visitor to the park

Triglav National Park consists of three protection areas with different levels of protection. The first two areas represent the narrower section of the park in which strict rules of conduct and prohibition apply. The third area is the peripheral part and includes certain populated areas. In addition to the provided code of conduct in the natural environment, additional sustainability recommendations apply regarding the preservation of the park’s wealth of natural and cultural heritage.

  • Use public transport to get to starting points.
  • Support the local economy by purchasing local products and choose products and experiences you recognise as local collective brands.
  • Take your rubbish with you.
  • Book your accommodation directly with local providers. Book your bed in mountain huts via the PZS reservation system.
  • Obtain necessary information and make sure that your venture into the mountains is safe and responsible.

Visit Triglav National Park with respect

gorsko resevanje

What to do if an accident happens?

A visit to the mountains carries a certain level of risk. Accidents, most frequently slips, occur due to unfamiliarity with the terrain, inadequate physical and mental fitness and inappropriate or insufficient equipment or footwear. With good organisation and preparation for a mountain trip, we can do a lot to reduce the risk, but something unpredictable can happen at any time. What to do in the event of an accident

If you’re the first to reach the injured person, it’s important to stay calm and collected and reassure other people who may be present. Assess the situation and protect yourself and the injured person from possible falling rocks, landslides and cold. Give first aid to the best of your abilities.

Call 112 for help!

If you’re in an area with no signal, make sure that the news of the accident reaches the first notification point of the Mountain Rescue Service as soon as possible. This can usually be found in mountain huts and other outposts in mountains and valleys. The SAPOGO automated emergency radios are installed in certain outposts.

Modern signposts are also equipped with special identification numbers. The caller who reports an accident in the mountains gives this number to the rescue team so that the location of the accident can be found more accurately.

When making an emergency call, you must provide the following data:

NAME AND SURNAME OF THE CALLER

WHAT HAS HAPPENED

LOCATION OF THE ACCIDENT

TIME OF THE ACCIDENT

NUMBER OF PERSONS INJURED

TYPES OF INJURIES

CIRCUMSTANCES AT THE LOCATION OF THE ACCIDENT

THE TYPE OF AID REQUIRED

When the rescue team arrives, safely remove yourself from the scene of the accident to enable the team an unobstructed field of operation. Make sure that you don’t endanger the injured person or the rescuers. If you’re in the vicinity of a helicopter, remain in a crouching position and protect the equipment from the downdraft caused by the helicopter. Follow the instructions of the rescue team. Respect the privacy of the injured person and don’t take photos or post videos of the accident online.

Discover the beauty of the mountain world safely

The views from mountain tops enchant everyone. Set out in pristine nature along maintained and marked trails with respect and responsibility. Feel the pleasant homeliness and friendship in the embrace of the mountain world.

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