Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Stolen moments

Stol from the south
On Sunday I was a bit slow getting going and thought I would use the day catching up with the blog and reading Mark Thompson's book about the Isonzo front. This lead to mild regret when Monday turned out to be a day of almost constant torrential rain that culminated in a spectacular thunderstorm. certainly not a day to tackle the swaying infamous Pipans staircase on the Italian Ultra, Jôf di Montasio as planned. today either as I had to meet my friend Patrick at Ljubljana Jože Pučnik airport - I didn't really want to try to rush JFM. Never mind, there was still one Slovenian P1000 left to do, namely Stol (2237m P1021) or as the Austrians call it Hochstuhl. Stol is the highest point in the Karavanke Alps which form part of the Austrian/Slovenian border. The current (2012) edition of the DK Slovenia guidebook has a cover picture in psychedelic colours of Lake Bled and in the background are the Karavankes, including Stol.
I started from Valvasorjev Dom (1149m) where I had sat in my van the night before watching the lightning light up the sky around me. The marked track heads eastwards in a traverse through the woods before heading steeply upwards to the cloud base at around 1750m. As usual, the woods gave way to dwarf pine and then to a karst limestone landscape. A strange whirring noise turned out to be a windmill alongside the Presernova Koca (2193m) hut and there was a sign saying 15 minutes to the summit. The wind driving the windmill was quite chilling and I had to wear gloves for only the second time since leaving the Arctic circle.

Border post and summit marker

The summit itself was marked by a border post; nearby there was a logbook and a stamp; and about 50 metres further along the ridge the ubiquitous Austrian summit  wooden cross. In the time it took for my hands to get really cold, I made an entry in the logbook and then headed back to the koca to get warm.

The koca was closed for the winter - and in fact would have been locked and empty if last night's thunderstorm had not delayed the helicopter due to collect the three people sat inside. Despite being closed they offered me a drink - where the choice was either coffee or beer. As I don't drink coffee I had a nice 'warming' beer.
Natural spring
As every hill bagger will know, there is a common natural phenomenon whereby the weather clears after you have been to the summit (it has a closely related one, where on a nice day, the clouds roll in as you approach the summit). Today was no different, as I descended the weather improved and the clouds started to disappear.
Still, it meant a clear landing for Patrick .

Chough it

Patrick getting into his Strudel

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