After years of waiting, several aborted attempts and much faffing – it’s finally time to pack my walking boots (Alpina of course) and climb, all-the-way to the top of Europe’s largest super-power – the mighty Republika Slovenija.
Whilst lazier, cigarette-smoking, beer-loving Slovene’s often protest, it’s accepted knowlege that you’re only a real Slovene once you’ve stood on top of Slovenia’s highest mountain (and national symbol) – Mt Triglav. So , that’s what I’m gonna do. I have a ‘rest week’ from work and that gives me 8 days to fly to Slovenia, collect Obi (my car), climb Triglav, celebrate Slovene style, visit some of my favourite people and drive 1000 miles home again …and back to work.
I don’t think it’ll get me a Slovene passport, I need to learn Slovene or marry Katarina Kresal to achieve this (the second being most likely (and prefereable)) but I like the idea of being a slightly better qualified Slovene (in one small area) than most of my Slovene friends.
Meaning ‘three heads’ Mr Triglav appears on the Slovenian flag and was first accended on August the 26th 1778 – 200 years before I was born. Its a relatively small mountain (2,864 metres or 9,396 ft) but its way bigger than me (and anything else in the UK) and thanks to some pretty steep drops – my fear of heights doesn’t like the idea at all. However, it has been my ambition to stand on top of Europe’s most beautiful country for many years and so, with only a few days to go, I’m getting excited. From what I understand, the accent up Triglav isn’t too hard (can be done in a day if you’re a sprightly fit Slovene) but I’m taking a more gentle two day trip that includes a night in a wooden mountain hut on-route. I’d pay for this on it’s own :-)
If you ignore Amy Winehouse, the highest thing we have in the South of England is probably a tree or a church tower so, I thought I’d prepare myself (mentally) for my first trip up a mountain by reading ‘touching the void’. If you haven’t read it (or seen the film) – it’s a light-hearted tale of two British chaps who climbed around on some small rocks in Peru (the weathers not good, one of them takes a bump, they write a book etc…) but strangely, it led me full circle back to Slovenia! I Googled for the author ‘Joe Simpson’, found him on Wikipedia, linked through to Siula Grande (the mountain the climbed) and found, oddly, that it was famously climbed by a Slovene guy called Pavle Kozjek. It turns out that Pavle Kozjek is a pretty tough (but dead) Slovene who learnt his trade conquering Slovene mountains. Actually, I just read this article about Pavle and he’s a fascinating guy. If it wasn’t for Martin Strel he’d probably be my all-time Slovene hero. However, Martin gets that title for comedy value. Swimming the river Amazon is as funny as it is impressive.
Hopefully, I wont be touching any voids (or cloth) on my trip but I will be on the lookout for the following.
Anway, if you’re looking for me in Oxford next week – don’t, and if you’re in Slovenia and have time for Lasko, Burek, talking and Alpine fun – you know what to do…