Thursday, 13 September 2012

Went up the other Slovenian Ultra


Well, that was enough of Austria for a while. First time in Slovenia - last time I was here back in 1971 it was Yugoslavia and I was hitching east, not looking for limestone Alps riddled with caves/pots.
Just over the border from Austria are the Kamnisko-Savinjske alps and the highest point in that range is another Ultra, Grintovec (2558m P1706).

Grintovec cows take it lying down

Cojzova Koca hut
Unfortunately, when it comes to a map of Grintovec it is divided by two maps. I wasn't prepared to pay for both and at the time of looking did not know which way I was going to tackle it to only buy one. So, armed only with a GPS and accounts I had read on the peakbagger website I set off into the unknown.
I drove to the top of a rough track from the Kokra valley to a small car park at Suhadolnik (897m). There was a home-made looking sign saying five hours to Grintovec via the Cojzova Koca hut. If that was true it was going to be a long day.

The headwall
At first the track was an unpaved road not much different from the one I had driven up. It went past a farm with cows and then into the forest. As the track ran out I could see a sign pointing to the right so followed that. It lead me steeply up through the woods to the foot of an almost vertical headwall and then for a while up a dry stream bed. Presumably, in the spring, when the winter snows melt this path is unusable except by those who enjoy gill scrambling in very cold water. After a while, the path followed a long traverse to the left where it met another path coming up from the base of the headwall. I remembered reading about this choice of paths on the website, but hadn't expected it to be so soon.
From there although I suspect it would be marked on the map as a 'steady step' path it was not too difficult to climb, very steeply at times, to the Cojzova Koca hut and a welcome cup of fruit tea. 
C K hut from above

Grintovec view
The track above the hut traversed upwards for a long way round the side of the main summit before rising more steeply over rough ground to a col. From there it was more rough ground on a zigzagging path to the summit.
Alpine Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus)
Chuffed Alpiniste
Wooden stairs - nowhere near Bedfordshire
As ever with mountains you have to go down them as well as up. And, although it hadn't taken five hours even if you include stop time, there was still a long way back. After the usual chat with the few other baggers I set off back and found myself overtaking people who had left the summit well before I had even reached it. It was not long before I reached the hut and decided to just keep going - if I stopped I feared my legs would stiffen up. Down the steep valley and to the headwall and the alternative way down. This route was a lot more organised - not quite handrails down the side of Malham Cove maybe, but there were wooden steps and walkways that made it a kind of 'via pinetta'
At the foot of the wall was an entrance to a cave which brought back memories of caving when I was much younger, mainly in the Yorkshire Dales, but also in the Mendips and the Pyrenees. However, even if I had had a helmet and carbide lamp with me there was nothing to encourage me to go thrutching and scrabbling through the entrance to this pot.
Mountainous anthill
Just a bit further down the path I came across a large pile of pine needles that was teeming with ants. Without wanting to make a mountain out of an anthill, it looked a lot bigger than the photo implies.
Grintovec - on the right

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