Slovenian winter climbing report by Urban Golob
Urban Golob reports about the winter ascents in Slovenia by climbers such as Andrej Grmovsek, Luka Krajnc, Dejan Koren, Aljaz Anderle, Marko Prezelj and many more.
A few days ago we reported in-depth about Sanjski Joža on the North Face of Triglav, climbed by Andrej Grmovsek and Luka Krajnc and stated that, after a slow start, the 2010/2011 winter in Slovenia is proving to be one of the best on record. Urban Golob provides an important roundup of some of the most interesting ascents.
SLOVENIAN WINTER (part 1?)
by Urban Golob
At the beginning of this winter season it was widely considered that conditions in the Slovenian mountains were not as good as last year. But after a while things changed and some not too difficult classic snow and ice climbs rapidly came into the condition. Winter activity commenced and at the end of January and at the beginning of February some good ascents were carried out, especially in Julian Alps.
The first which needs mentioning was a fast ascent of Sanjski ozebnik (Couloir of Dreams), a milestone of hard snow and ice climbs in Slovenia which follows a line up the centre of Triglav's North face. The route does not come into condition every year and ascents of this VI, 6, M7, 1100m are usually carried out over two days, while the fastest ascent had been in single day. Due to this year's excellent quality snow and ice and snow the difficulties are considered to be 'just' V, 5(+) without any mixed sections, and the first party to take advantage of these fantastic conditions was comprised of two young guns David Debeljak and Luka Stražar, who climbed Sanjski ozebnik just half a day. Of course several ascents followed and included the first solo ascent carried out by Dejan Koren who needed a mere 3.5 hours for this beautiful white line.
At almost the same time there was another good ascent on the more remote North face of Planja in the Julian Alps. A party of two brothers, Nejc and Rok Kurinčič, climbed a combination of the two routes Katarza and Mansarda, two summer lines graded VII and VI. They found enough ice and mixed pitches to climb this 500 meters wall in two days in great style.
The most important ascent this season so far has been carried out by Andrej Grmovšek and Luka Kranjc. They combined three routes into one impressive direct climb just right of Sanjski ozebnik on the North Face of Triglav, finishing up the famous Čopov steber (Čop's Butress), an ultra classic climb in the Slovenian Alps. They needed 33 hours (over 3 days) for this new winter route and graded it VI, 5+, M7+, 1050m. They hardly placed any protection on the lower section and they greater technical difficulties on the upper section which had much in-situ protection. It is now regarded as one of the best winter free ascents ever in the Slovenian Alps.
There has been some interesting activity on frozen waterfalls as well despite conditions being far from good this winter for ice climbing. Almost all the interesting first ascents were carried out by Aljaž Anderle who - with partners or alone – climbed three new ice lines up the North face of Prisank. He also soloed Bav-bav, a 500m high waterfall (IV, 6) on the North face of Mangart above Laghi Fusine near Tarvisio.
Tha latest news comes from the North Face of Triglav once again, obviously the most popular alpine location this winter. Tomaž Jakofčič and Andrej Erceg did not choose and snow and ice route but instead they went to the very steep part of the face whose steeper sections were completely dry . Over a two day period they repeated Jakofčič's 2002 route Metropolis (VIII/VII+, A0, 350 m) and managed an almost all free ascent.
Last but not least, there is one other important first winter ascent in Julian Alps worth mentioning: a beautiful line on the wild North Face of Široka peč, climbed by Luka Lindič, Rok Blagus, Boris Lorenčič and Marko Prezelj. This team linked two classic but – due to loose rock - rarely climbed routes (Direktna and Dibona) which provided good snow/ice conditions this year. The climb went at VI-, M6+,4-5, 700m with some tricky moves and loose rock and the four spent a night above the difficulties and then climbed the four easier pitches to the top of the face the next day. The ascent was one of training trips for their upcoming expedition to Makalu this spring.