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Updated: Jan 8, 2020

Despite an early dump of snow prior to Christmas which had us all thinking Winter had finally arrived in the valley, the weather has been unseasonably mild of late and my ski pass continues to gather dust on the kitchen counter awaiting its first outing of the season. The absence of snow however, has provided great conditions for Winter hiking so after a long stretch of grey, wet weather in November we have been rewarded with a steady supply of crisp clear Winter days with blue skies and relatively mild temps.

In recent weeks this "weather window" has allowed us to get out and explore a variety of areas and while movement is certainly slower than it is in Summer and the days noticeably shorter, we have been rewarded with some sweeping views and near perfect conditions. I started this series of walks with a solo hike on Christmas day, which took me up Komarča, a steep route at the western end of the lake then around Črno Jezero (Black Lake) and up towards Dom na Komni before heading out to Bogatin (1977m) which is clearly visible high about the lake to the west of the valley. Unfortunately, fresh snow on the Komna plateau made the going slower than expected and with just a few hours of daylight left I opted to turn around at the foot of the saddle below Bogatin. On my return trip I made a short stop at Dom na Komni for a Xmas beer and the mandatory Nutela crepes then descended to the car park arriving at the truck just on last light.

A few days later I joined my neighbors Danny and Izzy for an early morning assault on Viševnik (2050m) with the idea of taking in the sunrise from atop Bohinj's nearest two-thousander. The day started in the dark as we left the village around 4.45am enroute to Rudno polje. Leaving the truck at 5.30am we walked along the icy road through the forest in complete darkness and commenced the steep climb up the ski hill to the ridge above. Once on the ridge we were treated to a marvelous view to the south as the dawn light started to reveal itself on the horizon. The final push to the summit was a little blustery but our efforts were rewarded with spectacular views of Triglav and the surrounding mountains, bathed in morning sunlight.

Possibly the most impressive sight on this particular morning was the skiers who arrived on the summit just after us, enjoying a quick shot of slivo from a hip flask before disappearing off the backside of the mountain and into the steep abyss below... it was an impressive sight to watch. Our own descent was a little more orderly and did not involve intoxicants, however we did manage to descend the lower slopes at speed thanks to Danny's inclusion of three small plastic sledges.

By 30 December my favorite hiking/adventure partner in crime had arrived back from Christmas in Scotland and with the good weather holding we set off on two epic days in the mountains. The first saw us climb out of the valley via Vogar and then ascend to Planini Viševnik via Planini pri Jezeru and finally up to Pršivec where we were treated to the some incredible views of the valley. The second had us depart from just below Uskovnica with the plan to climb Tošc, however arriving in the meadow below the mountain after a fairly arduous ascent out of the valley below using ice axe and crampons we decided the icy face looked a little inhospitable so we opted to take the snowy traverse over to the foot of Veliki Draški vrh where we could see several groups moving along the ridge line above.

Once again limited daylight was our enemy with the narrow traverse taking a little longer than anticipated and while we managed to make a start on the climb we opted to turn back a few hundred meters below the summit as the afternoon light was beginning to fade. We descended to the saddle and then down into the valley below, eventually making it back to the Koca in Uskovnica just on last light where we enjoyed a cold beer and strudl while taking in a spectacular "pink sky" sunset. So as you can see the lack of snow hasn't stopped us from getting out and making the most of everything the valley has to offer. That said we are both definitely looking forward to getting out for a few turns when the snow finally arrives.

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Updated: Mar 31, 2020

It's hard to believe we are almost in to September.... but what an incredible Summer it has been so far. In recent weeks Bohinj has been a hive of activity with holiday makers descending on the valley to enjoy the sunshine and the endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. In between the arrival and departure of our guests we have continued our personal exploration of the surrounding mountains and after working our way through the lower Bohinj mountains south of the lake and the Komna Plateau to the west, we have now shifted our focus towards the heart of the Julian Alps and the high mountains south of Triglav.

While it's possible to walk from our front door, lately we've been parking the truck just below Uskovnica, which is a lovely alpine pasture located on the southern edge of the Pokljuka plateau. This short (8km) drive saves us about 90mins of walking in each direction (+500m of ascent) which allows us to venture further into the National Park exploring new areas.

Over the past 4 weeks these outings have included ascents of; Tosc (2273m), Veliki Draški vrh (2240m), Viševnik (2040m) and Jezerski Stog (2040) which all sounds impressive until you look at the map and realize you've barely scratched the surface on this hikers paradise. The good news is, we aren't about to run out of options any time soon... and we still have the Kamnik-Savinja Alps and the Karavanke Mountains that are "as yet" unexplored and all within a short drive of the valley.

In case you were wondering... we are still planning to climb Triglav (2864m) this year and will do this via the Valley of the Triglav Lakes as this route is apparently the most beautiful approach to Slovenia's highest summit, however, we're thinking of tackling it towards the end of the season once the crowds die down. We'll also make it a multi day trip as the guide book says "Triglav is finest of all when traversed in three days" so the plan is to stay overnight in a few mountain huts, soak up the mountain hospitality and really enjoy the experience. Who knows... we may even bag a few of the surrounding peaks if time allows.

In the meantime, we will continue to make the most of this fantastic Summer weather because I suspect the colder temperatures will be here before we know it.... the adventure continues.

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Updated: Mar 31, 2020

I've long been a fan of the Bob Graham Round, which if you are not aware is a British fell running challenge in the English Lake District. The Round is aptly named after Bob Graham (1889-1966), a Keswick guest-house owner, who in June 1932 broke the Lakeland fell record by traversing 42 fells (or peaks) within a 24hr period. This remarkable feat of endurance has inspired countless athletes to follow in Bobs footsteps and 87 years on more than 2000 individuals have officially completed the Round with the objective being to cover the 66 miles (106km) and more than 26,900 feet (8200m) of ascent in under 24 hours.

The Bob Graham Round has inspired the creation of similar routes in other parts of the UK with the Paddy Buckley Round in Wales and the notoriously difficult Ramsay Round in Scotland, so after moving to Bohinj this past December, I spent some time during the Winter poring over maps and contemplating my own version of a round here in the valley.

Now in case you were wondering.... I wasn't thinking of calling it Carnie's Round... actually I thought a more fitting name might be Zlatorogs Round. In Slovene folklore, Zlatorog or Goldenhorn is a legendary white chamois buck, that had his realm in the mountains surrounding Triglav. The legend is well known throughout Slovenia and has been widely popularized even appearing on beer cans however, for those not familiar with the storyline; Zlatorog had golden horns which were the key to a treasure hidden high in the mountains around Triglav. Legend has it that a young, brave hunter fell in love with a beautiful girl and managed to win her heart by bringing her beautiful flowers. However, one day, a rich merchant from Venice enticed the girl away by giving her golden jewellery and promising her a life of luxury.

The hunter was desperate to win her back and so he decided to go in search of Goldenhorn in order to claim his treasure. He found the animal high in the mountains, shot it, and pursued it. After a lengthy pursuit the dying animal dragged itself onto a narrow, rocky ledge. Suddenly the hunter noticed on the ledge the most beautiful and healing of flowers. Recognizing the power of these flowers the hunter rushed to try and finish Goldenhorn, but it was too late.

The Goldenhorn had already eaten one and the flower gave it tremendous life power. Reinvigorated, it charged towards the hunter, who being blinded by the beauty of its golden horns, lost balance and fell from the mountain to his death. Now legend aside... please rest assured I have no intention of finding myself in a similar predicament to the hunter in this tale and will happily postpone any attempt at Zlatorogs Round or any other hike for that matter if an encounter with a charging chamois appears imminent.

Returning to the original theme of this post; the most obvious route in my mind would traverse the lower Bohinj mountains situated to the south of the lake before crossing the Komna plateau high above Ukanc to the west and then returning in the shadow of Triglav taking in as many peaks as practical along the way.

In early June with the snow finally clearing in the high peaks I decided to head out on the first of what I envisage will be multiple trips to run/hike sections of the trail in order to determine viable routes, assess timings and determine the general feasibility of this personal project.

For my initial attempt I decided to start from the house (Stara Fužina) and ascend from Ribčev Laz via Suha to the ridge-line connecting the lower Bohinj mountain range, a route I have done many times in the past. Leaving the house around 5.00am the day was overcast and the cool morning weather was perfect for the long climb ahead. I'll be honest..... the climb from Ribčev Laz to Suha is not one of my favorites as it is steep with lots of loose rock and good views are few and far between as you are in the treeline for much of it however, once you arrive in the meadow, which is just shy of 1000m above the valley floor the trees thin out and the walking becomes more scenic and interesting.

I continued my ascent through the meadow, eventually arriving on the ridge-line around 7.20am then started my traverse west towards Šija situated high above Vogel Ski Resort. Heading westward from Šija I found myself entering new territory, which is always exciting and while there was still quite a bit of wind and cloud around, the weather seemed to be holding. The trail between Vogel and Dom na Komna is undulating and exposed but also beautiful as you traverse a series of steep scree slopes with the stark grey mountains looming high on your left.

As I pushed on it quickly became apparent that there was still plenty of snow on the higher peaks and without any form of crampons or micro-spikes the next hour or two was a more challenging undertaking than it needed to be. Despite the tricky conditions I managed to negotiate the snow and ice along the route and began my descent towards Komna at the western end of the lake and despite damp feet I was in high spirits. Descending quickly I left the grey moonscape of the high peaks behind and found myself back among the dwarf pine just as the morning clouds began to clear revealing a clear blue sky.

Arriving at Dom na Komna just after 10.30am it was still a little early for lunch, however this would be my primary re-supply stop for the day so I ordered a hearty bowl of barley soup, a side of buckwheat porridge and chased it down with a mid-morning Radler (a combination of beer and grapefruit juice) to top up the energy stores for the miles that lay ahead. I also took the opportunity to top up my water as I'd drunk 2.5 liters in the first 5hrs and with the clouds clearing the afternoon looked like it was going to be a warm one.

Feeling recharged and ready to continue I set off towards Črno Jezero (Black Lake) and within 45mins I had rounded the small lake and was making my way up the steep climb towards Planini Viševnik. By this time the temperatures were starting to heat up and the cool, cloud covered conditions from the morning were a distant memory. From Viševnik I took the trail towards Prisvec winding my way upwards through the forest and eventually arriving on top of the peak around an hour later. It was a lovely afternoon and there was a number of groups relaxing on the exposed summit taking in the lovely views of the lake and the valley below so I took a minute to sit and take on some more fuel for the final leg home. By this stage it was about 2pm in the afternoon, I had been moving for about 7hrs and had covered about 27km with a further 9km of steep descent still to come.

It was strange to be sitting on top of Prisvec and feeling like I was on the home leg but that is exactly how it felt. As I descended the summit ridge into the trees below I was back in familiar territory and after getting through the initial steep section the trail levels out becoming much gentler as it drops down towards Vogar. I was tempted to stop at Kosijev dom na Vogarju (1054 m) for a cleansing ale and a bit of strudel which is something of a tradition as this is our local hut but by this time I had been on my feet for the better part of 8hrs and had I sat down it may have taken a very determined effort to get back up. Instead, I continued, descending the final steep section down into Stara Fužina to complete the day.

To quickly summarize the day in numbers; I managed to circle the lake covering approximately 37km in 9hrs 30mins (8hrs 6mins in motion) with around 2370m of ascent and descent along the way. Now admittedly, this is a far cry from the Bob Graham Round with its 106km and 8200m of ascent but having reflected on this effort I have a few ideas on where we can go from here to extend the route and close the gap, especially given we have an additional 13hrs to play with. Be sure to keep an eye on the Blog as I continue the search for "Zlatorogs Round".

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