Explore the Julian Alps of Slovenia with a Cicerone guidebook
The Julian Alps of Slovenia
Mountain routes and short treks by Justi Carey, Roy Clark
This handy guidebook describes over 60 walks in the Julian Alps of Slovenia. The walks are organized around five bases - Kranjska Gora, Bovec, Kobarid, Bled and Bohinj. The routes in the Julian Alps range from easy valley walks and rougher forest trails to high-mountain protected routes and multi-day treks. More...
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Route 14 - Jovolec (2645m)
Height difference: 1537m
Start/finish point: Tamar dom (see Route 2) in the Planica valley
Access: The rough road to Tamar dom is open to vehicles 6pm–8am, and it may be possible to take a taxi early in the morning. Bicycles can be hired in Kranjska Gora. You may need to stay overnight at the dom if you are without transport.
Map: 1:30,000 Kranjska Gora, 1:25,000 Triglav or 1:50,000 Triglav National Park
Jalovec is arguably the most beautiful peak in Slovenia, poised like a giant crystal guarding the head of the Planica valley. It dominates the skyline from the south too, rising proudly above the Trenta and Koritnica valleys, and the statue of the pioneer climber Julius Kugy, on the Trenta side of the Vrsid pass, stands with his face turned eternally towards his favourite mountain. Jalovec holds a special place in the hearts of Slovene mountaineers, not least because of its difficulty, which is significant from all directions; it is without doubt one of the more serious routes described in this book, with a helmet, self-belaying equipment and possibly an ice axe all strongly advised. This circular route is described in a clockwise direction but can be done either way. As described here the ascent involves long sections of steep rock, while the descent, although initially over easier-angled ledges, is covered with loose rock. The choice is yours!
Take the broad path behind the Tamar dom, at the head of the Planica valley, heading right into the forest, signed ‘Jalovec, Mangart and Ponca’. After 5mins bear left at a fork onto a narrower track. Walk through the woods for about 30mins until the path emerges from the trees, close to the steep walls of Ponca, and continues up the valley, gently ascending. Enter trees again for a short distance, and then begin to climb a little more steeply over gravel and scree. This area is a huge watercourse that drains the upper part of the valley and takes the brunt of torrential flows of rain and winter avalanches. The path crosses a torrent bed and follows its course (on the left-hand side) for about 30mins, passing the last of the dwarf pine to continue on the stony track, gradually steepening all the time. In another 20–25mins come to a junction of paths at a waymarked boulder, signed right for ‘Jalovec and Veliki kot, 4½hrs’. This is the descent route if you make the walk in a clockwise direction – an obvious broad grassy ramp heading up steeply to the right.
Take the left-hand path, signed ‘Jalovska skrbina’, also 4½hrs, climbing steeply on loose scree below the foot of crags. After about 25–30mins notice a boulder with a prominent waymark about 25m to the left. Reach the boulder and continue up the steep scree to the foot of the precipitous northern face of Jalovec, where a sign says ‘Jalovska skrbina’ 3hrs to the left and ‘Jalovec, via Kotovo sedlo’ 3hrs to the right. Keep left, and ascend steeply beneath rock walls on the right side of the Ozebnik couloir for about 100m, to another sign – straight on to Ozebnik, and left for Jalovska skrbina. Take the left, traversing below a large prow of rock that forms a tongue in the middle of the gully. Ascend for about 20m over a rocky rib and then descend, first to the left and then right, assisted by steel pegs, into the gully bed at the foot of the crags on the left-hand side of the couloir. Note that this is often choked with snow until late in the season, and may require some gymnastic moves to cross. Reach waymarks and begin to ascend with pegs and metal rungs for aid. The route initially trends right, and then bears left over a mixture of easy broken ground and steep scrambling across quite exposed but protected rock. Ascend a very steep leftward-trending ramp below slightly overhanging rock equipped with abundant metal rungs and pegs, and then continue to zigzag up the face, over gradually easier ground, to reach the col of Jalovska skrbina (2117m). To the right is Golidica; the route avoids its rocky summit by climbing across the steep slabs of its east face.
From the col waymarks on a rock lead south, and the path descends slightly for a few minutes to reach a junction, signed ‘Jalovec 2½hrs’ to the right and ‘Vrsid 2½hrs’ to the left. Traverse on the stony path to reach the rocks of the east face of Golidica. Waymarks lead up and left initially over easy ground, level or at times even descending slightly, until a steep scramble heads straight up, equipped with steel pegs and cables. Although the climbing is not too difficult there is considerable exposure in places. Amazingly, even up here Zois’ bellflower and Triglav rose cling to the steep rock. Eventually the gradient relents and the path continues up an easyangled rocky spur. Ahead are more steep rocks, but before they are reached take a path leading left, following waymarks towards a wide easy-angled scree-filled gully. Continue up the path, making a short zigzag right to avoid some rocky slabs, and reach the mouth of the Ozebnik couloir. Although it offers the most direct route, the way is not recommended due to constant stonefall. The views down towards Tamar are excellent though!
Continue along the rim of the couloir to reach a small grassy col between Jalovec and the unnamed subsidiary peak marked as 2413m on the map. From here the route bears right, descending a little, and crosses the head of the Loski yleb gully, passing a path heading left to Zavetisde pod Spidkom – the refuge under Spidek. An ice axe could well be required here, as the snow lies late at the head of the gully. Reach the foot of the lower rocks of the summit section of Jalovec and continue easily over rocky ledges, with abundant flowers among the rocks. Although there are no real difficulties, follow the waymarks carefully as it is easy to end up on very tricky ground if concentration is lost. Follow a shallow gully with rocky steps to reach the crest of the south ridge, with spectacular views of the Koritnica valley and Mangart. Continue along the ridge for about 10mins, keeping to the right (east) side when not on the crest, to reach a notch. Pass through to the left side of the ridge to meet a junction; a sign, ‘Tamar 5hrs’, and waymarks indicate the descent route, heading left. Another 5mins or so brings you to the summit of Jalovec at 2645m, 5–6hrs from Tamar. Allow yourself a few moments to admire the superb view of the Julian Alps of Slovenia, and the Italian and Austrian hills to the north and west.
The descent follows the north-west ridge; retrace your steps to the junction and follow the sign for Tamar. The route descends scree and rubble-covered ledges, with few security aids. Great care must be taken as a slip here would probably be fatal. Beyond this unpleasant start, the route drops down more steeply to reach a notch in the ridge at the head of a steep gully, which is crossed with the help of a steel cable. This is soon followed by a short steep scramble up better rock to rejoin the crest of the ridge, with magnificent views down the precipitous north walls of Jalovec to Tamar.
Begin descending to the left of the crest. The way continues with a mixture of short steep sections and easier traverses, and then crosses the head of another small couloir, again protected by a steel cable. Continue descending on the left-hand side of the ridgeto reach a chimney of about 25m, well equipped with pegs and cables. Descend the chimney, and then continue traversing, on fairly easy ground, with good views to the left of Bavski Grintavec and Rombon, and the village of Log pod Mangartom on the valley floor. The route then crosses to the right-hand side of the ridge, dropping steeply down with pegs and metal rungs set into the rock for about 25m to reach a notch. From here descend back over to the left side of the ridge, following a line of steel cables on the left side of a scree-filled gully. At the end of the cable follow waymarks, right, and continue more easily to eventually arrive at a pleasant grassy area. Turn right and head down easily over stone and scree towards the Kotovo sedlo. Mangart is to the left, with Ponca beyond the saddle and the north wall of Jalovec to the right.
Reach the broad grassy ridge and continue along it for about 400m, descending a little and heading towards Ponca. Reach a waymarked boulder at the Kotovo sedlo (‘saddle’) (2134m), where a sign says ‘Tamar 2hrs 35’ to the right and ‘Mangart 5hrs’ to the left. Turn right, and in about 250m reach another junction, where you turn left – the right-hand path is a possible alternative route, but it is not recommended because of the tedious nature of the loose scree and stone in descent. Continue over short grass amid stones and boulders for about 15mins before reaching thickets of dwarf pine that mark the top of the descent route. The path begins to descend with good views down into the Tamar valley. Occasional steeper sections are secured with cables, and the path broadens a little and becomes easier as height is lost. There are no real difficulties, although from below it looked to the contrary, but it is steep enough to grieve the knees at the end of a long day! Cross an easy-angled slab that water and landslides have recently exposed, and continue on scree to reach the ascent path. Turn left and continue back down the valley to the Tamar dom.