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Occupying a swath of territory ranging from northwestern Italy into northern Slovenia, the Julian Alps boast a diverse range of ski touring opportunities.
The limestone mountain range covers about 4.400 square kilometers, of which 65 percent are located in Slovenia, and boasts an incredible array of natural beauty. Here snow-capped peaks stand tall over alpine meadows and massive evergreen forests.
The mountain range is defined by the imposing Mount Triglav, which is the highest peak in the Julian Alps at 2.864 meters. Its likeness is emblazoned on Slovenia’s coat of arms and the mountain is an important national landmark for the small central European state.
During the winter, ski touring is easily the best way to explore this fantastic landscape. Hut-to-hut travels, ski mountaineering and freeride skiing are all possible. They also all allow you to see a different part of this small but diverse country.
In order to become better acquainted with the Julian Alps and all of its ski touring opportunities, we spoke with Mitja Šorn, an IFMGA-certified guide and current president of the Slovenian Mountain Guide Association.
He gave us some insight into the best ski touring opportunities available in the country as well as some tips to make sorting out the logistics of your stay far more simple as well.
“Slovenia offers only one option to go on a ski touring trip from hut to hut, especially since most huts remain closed during the winter,” Mitja told Explore & Share.
This tour takes place in Triglav National Park at the foot of Mount Triglav and lasts between three and eight days. This hut-to-hut tour combines everything from freeride opportunities on Slovenia’s most popular ski touring peak, Rodica, to ski mountaineering to the summit of Mount Triglav.
“We will leave the crowds at the ski resort behind and enjoy the loneliness [of the backcountry] for the next few days,” Mitja said.
“The biggest advantage we have in Slovenia is that everything can be done without running into big crowds. Usually when I guide I don’t meet many other people anywhere.”
Along the way, you will ski across the Komna Plateau, down through the Bogatin saddle and on to the shores of Krn Lake. After skiing some of the peaks around the lake, you will head back into the mountains.
The final few days are spent ascending some of Slovenia’s best ski touring mountains, including Kanjavec (2.569 m), before heading back down into the Velo polje valley for the final leg of the trip.
“The ascent to the Triglav summit is something that many of guests want to experience,” Mitja said. “Once we are back from the top, the skiing will be waiting for us. The descent into the Krma valley is again one of the most classic ski tours in Slovenia.”
The final bit of the ascent is the only part that requires much technical climbing skill, otherwise the higher slopes of the peak can be reached in skins.
The descent back down is easily the highlight of the trip as you rush back down into the incredible landscape you will have just viewed from above.
If hut-to-hut ski touring is not exactly what you’re looking for, then Kranjska Gora probably is. Located quite close to both Ljubljana and Bled, this former herder settlement is ideally situated for exploration of the surrounding Upper Sava Valley.
Within an hour of the newly minted tourist hub, there are at least nine excellent skiing spots. You’ll soon find that this lovely resort town is just like a getaway to the French or Swiss Alps, just without the high prices and long lines.
Pod kriško steno is one of these prime ski touring spots. Mitja describes it as “one of the most popular” spots in the country. Part of this is due to the abundance of powder found here throughout the season.
The peak does require a bit of climbing to get to the top, but the 1.000 meter descent is the perfect reward for your efforts and is also quite doable for intermediate ski tourers.
A bit farther away from the ski town, along the Italian border, sits Plazje. Requiring a bit longer of a climb and yielding more difficult skiing conditions at the top, this peak is best saved for advanced ski tourers.
Providing a 1.400 meter drop in elevation, this run affords “perfect views and good skiing,” according to Mitja. Well worth a visit for those capable of taking on the task.
While the vast majority of Kranjska Gora’s local skiing locations are geared toward intermediate and advanced skiers, Dovška Baba and Vošca both offer ideal slopes and difficulty for beginners. Neither require much climbing to get to the starting point and both offer various routes to suit your abilities.
Not only are the routes for beginners, Mitja also describes them as “one of the safest ski tours in bad conditions,” for when the weather just does not seem to cooperate.
Along with ski touring, you might also want to try some of the various other winter sports offered nearby, including ice climbing.
Situated near the town of Bovec on the Italian-Slovenian border, Mitja describes Kanin-Sella Nevea as a “paradise” for ski tourers.
The resort, which is located on the outskirts of Triglav National Park, is the highest one in Slovenia and consistently gets some of the country’s best snow, making it the ideal spot for freeride skiing.
“Kanin-Sella Nevea is located in one of the snowiest regions in Europe,” Mitja said. “The typical cold and dry Eastern Alps climate combined with humid Mediterranean winds generate a unique micro-climate, that results in outstanding quality and quantity of consistent powder snow.”
These unique conditions, combined with the geography, allow for excellent skiing in nearly every direction. The resort offers 30 kilometers of diverse options, from easy descents for beginners to much more difficult ones for advanced skiers.
Along with the excellent skiing conditions, the resort also offers spectacular views. From the top of the pass, you can see the Adriatic Sea on a clear day and get great views of the iconic Mount Triglav from the other direction.
Overall, Kanin-Sella Nevea is widely considered the best ski spot in the entirety of the Julian Alps.
The best time for a ski touring trip to the Julian Alps is from December to April, with the peak months being from January to March.
Snow tends to begin falling in the mountains starting at the end of November and by the time December rolls around, there is plenty of snow on the ground.
During this stretch of the year, average temperatures range from -2°C to -5°C. Winter tends to be the driest season for the mountain range, with an average of nine days of snow per month from December to February.
This means there are plenty of clear days on which to enjoy spectacular views as well as great skiing, but there are also plenty of opportunities to ski on fresh powder.
Just about every trip to Slovenia begins with a flight into Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU), which sits on the outskirts of the capital, Ljubljana. The airport is easily reached by transferring from most major European cities.
Once you’ve arrived, there are various ways to get to your final destination in the Julian Alps. Renting a car is always possible, but driving in the Julian Alps is not widely recommended due to difficult conditions caused by snow.
From the airport, there are plenty of buses into the capital. Once you have arrived, you will then be able to find buses to your next destination. There is a daily bus from Ljubljana that has stops in both Bovec and Kranjska Gora. Search “Ljubljana-Kranjska Gora-Tarvisio-Cave del Predil-Bovec” for exact times.
For trips to Triglav National Park, you will likely head to Bled first. Bled also can easily be reached by both bus and train from Ljubljana too.
Both Bled and Kranjska Gora offer plenty of places to stay prior to heading out on your ski touring expedition.
Here are a few of Mitja’s top recommendations for both spots!
In Kranjska Gora:
There are also plenty of options for staying in Bovec too.
So what are you waiting for? Get ready for some exceptional snow and stunning scenery by booking your next ski touring holiday in Slovenia’s Julian Alps today!
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