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Ascent of Hochstuhl on 2010-09-01

Climber: Lee Newton

Date:Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Hochstuhl
    Location:Austria/Slovenia
    Elevation:2225 m / 7300 ft

Ascent Trip Report

I left our holiday cottage in Bled under a leaden sky. The drive to Zirovnica only took about 10 minutes, and the road leading up the Zavrsnica river valley was easy to find (drive through town and just before open country turn right. A couple of km east and the minor road to Valvasorjev Dom was well signposted on the left (if you reach the lake you've gone too far). The road from the valley to the hut was mainly good quality dirt easily passable in a normal car. Parking is directly in front of the hut.

There are 2 routes up the mountain from here but but slightly counter-intuitively, the continuation of the dirt road is neither of them. The most direct, which I took in ascent, begins at the signpost in the car park, and crosses the little meadow area contouring east around the mountain. The other route, which I used for the descent, can be accessed by walking back along the access road downhill and taking a left at the first hairpin on to a poorer dirt track. My map (Karawanke 1:50000) was very misleading on this point.

The direct route contours east around the hill, climbing gently, until it reaches the farm of Zirovniska Planina. From there it basically climbs directly and steeply up the mountain. At first there is forest, and higher some dwarf pine. The views across the valley to Lake Bled and the Julian Alps get better and better as you ascend with Triglav looking very dominant. It is easy to see that it is a very prominent mountain. At around 2000m altitude you get level with a col in the main ridge. At this point it is possible to contour left to reach a path leading up the west ridge of Hochstuhl (it is also possible to continue up directly to the minor top holding the hut Presernova Koca and cross to the summit from there). As I ascended the wind was blowing extremely strongly from the north and I had been sheltered up to this point. I went from T-shirt to Thermal, fleece and waterproof hat and gloves in about 100 yards and I really don't feel the cold much. The wind was so strong it knocked me off my feet a couple of times as I ascended the loose chossy ground at the foot of the summit ridge. Higher up the ground improved and suddenly I was at the top with another stunning view. Grintovec was dominant to the east, as well as the rocky spine of the Karawanke ridge. To the north the Drava river, and beyond in the distance to the NE the Zirbitzkogel. To the south the plain in the centre of Slovenia where Ljubliana sits, and in the west and southwest the inspiring limestone peaks of the Julian Alps. For the first time in the trip I could clearly see Skrlatica, the second highest peak, but Triglav is so dominant in height and form that the eye finds it difficult to look elsewhere. In the northwest the higher peaks of the Hohe Tauern were mainly in the cloud.

I spent half an hour huddled in the lee of the wind behind some rocks before heading back. I crossed the shallow col to the lower top holding the hut Presernova Koca and headed south east. This path was much better made and graded than the ascent path and is far more recommendable overall. I descended pleasantly back through the forest to the farmstead of Stara Planina where a bunch of old men were sitting around drinking some kind of firewater and chewing the fat. A comedy conversation in 5 languages ensued before we realised we didn't have a common one but they were very friendly nevertheless. From the farm a good track runs through the forest just below Zirovniska Planina and the route of ascent without actuallz ever rejoining it (although it wouldn't be difficult to). This road emerges just a couple of 100m below the parking at Valvasorjev Dom. The time was about midday and I headed back to Bled for a birthday lunch with my family, it was a great way to spend the morning of my 36th birthday.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1088 m / 3570 ft
    Elevation Loss:1088 m / 3570 ft
    Distance:8.5 km / 5.3 mi
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Cool, Extremely Windy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1039 m / 3406 ft
    Distance:3.5 km / 2.2 mi
    Route:W ridge
    Trailhead:Valvasorjev Dom  1186 m / 3894 ft
    Time Up:2 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1088 m / 3570 ft
    Extra Gain:49 m / 164 ft
    Distance:5 km / 3.1 mi
    Route:via Presernova Koca and Stara Planina
    Trailhead:Valvasorjev Dom  1186 m / 3894 ft
    Time Down:2 Hours 



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