There are hikers, and there are rock climbers, but then there are also scramblers.
Scramblers, like rock climbers, love to team up with the rock to facilitate their movement through the mountains.
But scramblers, like hikers, love the freedom of movement without the burden of climbing gear.
True scramblers, those that prefer to move through class 3 and 4 terrain (as classified by YDS) are not represented to the extent that their climbing and hiking counterparts are in today’s flurry of social media.
But a secret paradise for Scramblers does exist! It is nestled comfortably in the Julian Alps in Northwest Slovenia, just waiting to be discovered by those who will appreciate it most.
You may not realize that the Alps extend into Slovenia. They cover only a small corner of the small country, but their presence there is anything but. The Julian Alps are dramatic and spectacular, and will send your jaw to the floor just as quickly as the first view of the Matterhorn will.
Slovenia remains the least touristy, and the least expensive, corner of the Alps. You may doubt the less touristy part upon arrival into the kayak mecca of Bovec on the banks of the Soca River, or on the crowded shores of Lake Bohinj. But take a few steps into the rugged mountain terrain, and you will feel the kind of solitude and wildness that retreated from the rest of the Alps years ago when mountain sports took off in popularity.
After nearly two weeks in Slovenia, and covering many trails and via ferratas, I have come to three conclusions about Slovenia: 1) the “trails” are rugged; 2) the Slovenians are hardcore; 3) the scrambling potential is unmatched
Let’s start by talking about the “trails.” The most innocent on the map will surprise unsuspecting hikers with some class 3 climbing, as well as exposed sections (class 3 and 4) made just tolerable enough by cables and some handholds drilled into the rock to hold onto. Venturing onto a “route” (usually indicated by dots instead of dashes on the map), you might just as well find yourself in unprotected in class 4 terrain. And the occasional cable on a via ferrata certainly should not overshadow the abundance of class 3, 4, and even low class 5 unprotected scrambling that the route presents.
Speaking of unprotected scrambling on a via ferrata, the hard-core Slovenians don’t even seem to bother with via ferrata gear. On each of the many via ferratas we covered during our two weeks in Slovenia, we were passed at some point by one couple, or maybe even multiple via ferrata goers, completely without gear.
So while the hoards of adventurers are circuiting Mont Blanc, or waiting in the line of climbers to summit the Matterhorn, the grippy and solid rock that connects various mountain huts in the Julian Alps remains lonely, waiting to be discovered by the scramblers of the world.
So, who is heading out there next?
Calling all scramblers: if you are interested in a hut to hut scrambling tour in the Julian Alps, please let us know. Although we currently do not offer the tour on our website, we are prepared to organize a custom tour for you. The tour should be available on our website in 2018.
Calling all non-scramblers: The Julian Alps in Slovenia are a secret that has been kept too well for too long. Please share this information with your rock-loving friends!