Škrlatica in Slovenia sees first winter ascents by Matej Arh and Klemen Gerbec
In December 2016 Matej Arh and Klemen Gerbec made the first winter ascents of two summer routes up the North Face of Mt Škrlatica in Slovenia. In their winter version these routes offer outstanding and challenging winter climbing in one of the most beautiful and remote corners of the Julian Alps.
Beyond the borders of Slovenia, Škrlatica is not a particularly well-known mountain. At 2740m it is the second highest peak in Slovenia - and the third highest in the entire Julian Alps - but the so-called "Queen of the Julian Alps" probably suffers in popularity due to its proximity to the King of the entire massif, Mt. Triglav.
First ascended as late as 1880 by Julius Kugy, Andrej Komac and Matija Kravanja, the mountain poses a formidable challenge even by today’s standards; the approach is long and complicated, there are no huts along the way and, worst of all, much of the limestone rock is loose. In winter though the rock freezes solid, transforming the north face into a fantastic cold playground for modern mixed climbing. Slovenian alpinists Klemen Gerbec and Matej Arh noticed this evolution and last December carried out two important winter ascents which perhaps give the mountain some of the recognition it deserves.
On 4 December 24-year-old Gerbec teamed up with 23-year-old Arh to climb an obvious winter line on the righthand side of the face. They encountered such good conditions they climbed the 500m route unroped, before grading it IV/ AI4 and calling it Škripaška smer. Only later did they realize they had inadvertently shared the upper section with one of the few existing summer routes, Spominska smer Brede Rinaldo in Janje Krivic. Word soon spread of this winter ascent and the line was quickly repeated, but successive parties reported that it had become much more difficult just a few days later.
Gerbec and Arh returned on 18 December and picked the plum line up the central arête. Gerbec had had this 600m route in mind for the last three years, but despite research was uncertain whether it had already be climbed in summer. "The line is so obvious though" Gerbec explained to planetmountain.com "that I just didn’t believe it hadn’t been climbed before."
Confirmation came during their ascent when they stumbled across one old homemade piton on the second pitch. They temporarily called it Severna Grapa and as Gerbec explained "After our climb was published Alojz Novak commented on it and provided info. It turns out it was first climbed in September 1969 by himself and Milan Füle, and called Rdeča Megla which means red fog in Slovenian. We probably did the first winter repeat." Gerbec and Arh climbed the route in 8 hours and left just one peg on the crux of the route and another on the last belay at the top of the route, where this joins the Kugy route.
Confirmation to the route’s beauty, which was graded IV/4+, M5+ by the Slovenians, comes from the Italians Alberto Giassi and Enrico Mosetti who made the first repeat 11 days later.
Further info: www.aokranj.com/2016/12/19/ta-teden and www.aokranj.com/2016/12/05/skrlatica-dolkova-spica