After so many treks on the hills, we finally managed to prepare a trip where climbing would have its own time. We were planning our second road trip to Europe where we would be heading to Croatia in the south east. Slovenia was the country that caught our eye of the countries that we would be crossing to get to Croatia.
Climbing had always been on our minds, but till now we had inadequate gear to be able to add it to our adventures, and a lack of experience. I had lost all my skills at lead climbing and although Pata was getting good at top rope climbing, she didn’t feel confident enough to try it till now.
I’ve never felt safe trad climbing, so for us, it had to be sport climbing, and when you type that into google, Slovenia quickly reveals itself as a sport climbers paradise.
After some research we came across Slovenija. This really is a Bible for climbers in Slovenia. The book is available in 4 different languages and covers the whole country, with over 3000 climbing routes!
If you are planning on driving in Slovenia with your own vehicle, you should know that for driving on the motorway, they have a toll system based on vignette and the price is 15€ per week (in 2018). If you are hiring a car there, it should come with the vignette sticker already. You can buy these at most service stations.
There are climbing areas throughout the country, but the ones we were interested in were in the west, with lower grades for us novices! So the first location we picked was the very popular Bohinj Lake area. The first place we chose didn’t meet our expectation being right in the middle of a town, with a climbing school. We didn’t fancy being watched by children on our first experience sport climbing outdoors! So we headed to a new location close by. Climbing spot N41 Nomenj.
Nomenj is a very small villages just off the main road between Bled and Bohinj. It is a small bunch of houses and the climbing routes are set behind the village. It isn’t very clear in the book as to where exactly the parking spot is, and after asking some locals, we finally found it and parked. It felt pretty strange parking a british van in the middle of a small village in Slovenia, in what looked like someone’s drive, but apparently that is the spot where you are meant to park. Some locals gave us the nod which made us feel better about it.
The climbing routes are fairly easy to find following the instructions in the book although the path is very overgrown and hard to identify in places. Red arrows painted on the ground will help you to find your way.
The playground is divided into 3 different areas, we focused on area A as it is the one with the easier routes. Unfortunately the moment we arrived, the rain came and for a few minutes we thought that it would ruin our first day of climbing, but luckily the rain stopped after 15min and the rock dried very fast.
I’m able to lead climb up to a grade 5C on the indoor wall, but soon we realised we would have to drop our grade quite a bit when I struggled to finish a 4C. Pata wasn’t able to climb due to an injury to her ankle, but I managed to finish all 4 routes and loved them, it was quite a shock to the system coming from climbing indoors, but really fun.
Although this location was great as a first stop, I wouldn’t strongly recommend it, well at least section A anyway. The walls had a lot of lose rock and in places lots of plants. Another thing we noticed at all the walls we climbed is that the first bolt is bloody high!!! Guess thats normal for Slovenians! But for us as beginners sometimes it was scary!
After lunch we headed to location 40 in the book which is not far from the first one. Funnily enough we were having lunch in the lay-by that was next to the access to the town without knowing it.
Parking is available for free in front of the church on the access road to the town. The book says it is a 10 minute walk from there to the crag, but give yourselves at least 20. This is a larger town than Nomenj and you have to cross the town and head to the higher residential part of the town via some very steep and narrow streets. Follow your instincts and head to the rock walls you can see behind the town.
At this spot we focused again on Zone A. Zones B,C and D were for the higher grades. The crag has a pretty flat base, it is well looked after and even had two clean portable toilets on site- with toilet paper!
Again, Pata couldn’t climb so I enjoyed climbing all of the grade 3 and 4 routes. I found routes at this spot slightly easier than the first, and its important to note that route 12 is over 30m high (not 24m as the book says), and as we were using a 60m rope, I couldn’t finish it. The book can be a bit confusing.
Our final climbing destination in Slovenia was Vipava (number 5 in the book). We chose this place as it was on our route for heading home from Croatia and again for having a high number of easy routes. The playground in Vipava is huge with 14 climbing areas. You can find climbs varying in grade from 3 up to 7C+. From just 8m high to multi-pitch routes of 90m.
All 14 climbing areas are on the same face of a mountain apart from A, which is a little closer to the town. For the other 13 you have to drive south east from the town towards Kamp Tura. Outside Kamp Tura you will find the car park.
If you are planning on doing more than one day we highly recommend staying at that campsite, it is cheap, small, very convenient, clean and very friendly. They also have a little climbing shop if you need some gear or want a souvenir.
We climbed all the grade 3, 4 and most of the 5’s in sections B, C and D, we found them to be good fun and very well equipped. Each route even had a little plaque at the bottom with the name of the route and its grade. (We didn’t see this at the other places).
From the car park there are sign posts with directions to the different areas and these are very easy to find, although some of them are a bit hard to get to due to very steep slopes with huge piles of scree. Just be aware that the times given in the book and on the sign posts aren’t very accurate, prepare to do almost double what they say and in some cases a lot more!
Section E was a bit disappointing. After climbing for almost an hour to get to the wall, wrestling steep slopes of lose rock and scree without any sign posts, in blasting sun and high temperatures we realised that there weren’t many routes we could do. Almost all the routes in the section are above a grade 5 or over the length of our rope. Also the belay areas for some of them are a bit precarious and I had to secure Pata to a tree to keep her safe.
Slovenia was a truly magical place to climb and we barely scratched the surface of whats available. Its definitely worth making the effort to get there and do buy the book. People were generally friendly and welcoming, the food was good and campsites were well equipped and not too expensive. We will be back!