Ascent of Triglav on 2015-11-19

Climber: Alex Lennon

Date:Thursday, November 19, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:9396 ft / 2863 m

Ascent Trip Report

Instantly one of my all-time favorite peaks and climbs. Out and Back via Vrata Valley and the Prag-Tominskov Route, which though steep and challenging, is well-protected and gorgeous almost beyond belief. Basing ourselves out of Mojstrana, Ciara and I were able to stay with a local mountain guide named Grega, who lived just inside the northern boundary of Triglav National Park, at the foot of Vrata Valley. Though he didn't join us, Grega was very hospitable, indispensible for beta, and was kind enough to drive us to the trailhead, 12 km away, at 4:40am. My first alpine start in the Alps!

Starting directly beneath the 1,200m North Face (or Stena) of Triglav, the trail climbs steeply from the outset. The route takes a series of switchbacking paths, dolomite ledges, and sporty steep scrambles- some with fixed iron rods and steel cables- up an improbable-looking dolomite wall on the looker's-left periphery of the North Face. Once this wall was navigated and the Prag Route joined up with the Tominskov, the terrain took on a much more alpine nature- lots of snow, rolling pitches of scrambly dolomite smaller surrounding peaks came into view, and several alpine huts were also visible from this high glacial basin. Huts, no doubt, which were precursors to New Hampshire's AMC huts. It was in this glacier basin that I encountered my crux. Before reaching Kredarica Dom, the highest hut before gaining the summit ridge, the route traverses the top of a steep, snow-covered ravine headwall. As I hadn't brought crampons, I was glad to see steps had already been kicked in. The snow here had been rendered firm and icy, and without the steps I couldn't possibly hold my footing. The route crossing the headwall was very steeply outsloped for about 50 feet before dropping off a 100 foot cliff onto the glacier below. Not a place you want to spend much time if it can be avoided. Fortunately with an ice axe and extra care, I made the crossing just fine in both directions.

From there it was easy walking to Kredarica Dom, and the start of the amazing summit ridge climb. From the hut I made the summit in 50 minutes, so my very rough estimate is that the ridge exceeded half a mile in length. From a shallow saddle just past the hut, the route ascended steel cables on near-vertical cliffs for 700 feet or so. Low difficulty, but high exposure with fatal consequences. Memorial plaques lined the route up the ridge where various climbers had fallen. Morbid, but as good a reminder as any to not let go. Luckily the climbing moved quickly out to the south aspect, so snow and ice did not hinder on the most serious parts of the climb. The initial view to the south, which opened up in all directions as I got higher, was literally jaw-dropping: a blanket of undercast as far as the eye could see. Peaks poked out of the undercast like islands in a sea of mist, thick and flowy. Italian and Austrian peaks were visible. To the east, Ljubljana was buried under the sea of fog. This was one of the single most amazing experiences I've ever had in the mountains.

The summit ridge, once gained, was some half a mile of dramatic knife edge climbing. Very inspiring for future climbs like Katadhin and Capitol Peak. At the summit was the rocket-shaped shelter, occupancy 1, although unfortunately no register. I had about 45 minutes of solitude on top, where I took plenty of pictures, ate summit frogs, and enjoyed being thousands of feet above the surrounding peaks and clouds. Surreal. Several other parties were on their way up, all old and doubtlessly local badasses, and once they topped out I started down. No room to pass on the knife edges. Had an uneventful descent save for an ibex spotting on the north face! A great way to end a fantastic climb.

Left TH: 5am

Summit: 10:15am

Back to TH: 4pm
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Triglav as seen from the ravine headwall traverse. The true summit is on the right, in the sun (2015-11-18). Photo by Alex Lennon.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6234 ft / 1900 m
    Route Conditions:
Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb, Glacier Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:6234 ft / 1900 m
    Route:Vrata Valley/ Cez Prag
    Start Trailhead:3162 ft / 963 m
Descent Statistics

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