marți, 10 martie 2009

International skitouring camp in Komna, Slovenia

It was in December when we first heard of this camp. They posted it on the UIAA site in the Global Youth Summit category and we decided right in the moment we saw the announcement that we will have to participate. Mr Mihai Pupeza, head of the Romanian Alpine Club helped us with the registration and wished us good luck.

Two months later, on Saturday 28th February Catalina, Mihnea and me filled the car with 3 backpacks, skis and complete skitouring equipment. Since the highway tax in Slovenia is more than expensive we decided to drive through Austria then passing the mountains at Ljubelj pass and finally arrive to the meeting point at Savica waterfall near Lake Bohinj. Since the drive was very long we decided to camp one night just before climbing Ljubelj pass and found a very good camping place on a secondary road up in the mountains. Upon arriving to the meeting point on Sunday morning we figured out that Norwegians don't even need a tent for spending a night near the car: Anne, Astrid, Elisabeth and Tiril just laid their matresses and sleeping bags on the snow near the car and comfortably slept there.

Soon after meeting the others we sent all of our luggages and skis by cable car up to the Komna plateu and hiked about 2-3 hours up to Dom na Komni mountain hut. The hike presented almost a thousand meters in elevation but since the switchbacks were designed very intelligently with a very light ascent, we barely felt the climb. From Dom na Komni we carried our luggage an another 15 minutes to our hut at Planina na Kraju.

At this point I'd like to mention that Romania did not have too much snow this year. For example at the beginning of February the snow limit was at 1500 meters... thus no wonder that we were amazed for having 4 to 5 meters of snow at Komna! The first two floors of the hut were almost completely covered with snow, while the neighbouring house had only one meter of its roof visible. I should also mention that even the slovenian guys said that they haven't seen so much snow in the last 30 years.

The first day passed with preparations like finding your place in the hut, unpacking, getting around the house and eating the first meal of our chef, Vinko's excellent food. As a sidenote I'd like to mention a few words about Vinko: he's been the chef of the camp for more than 15 years, which means that every winter he spends 6 weeks up at the hut cooking for different groups and I also have to mention that I have never eaten so much and so good food up in the mountains and also I've got no idea how does he manage to cook every day soup, main course, dessert, dinner and bread for 25 people with keeping the quality so high.

On Monday morning we left on our first trip up on Kal peak, 2001 meters and Srednji Vrh, 1872 meters high. Very soon after leaving the hut we were faced with one of the biggest differences in the way how Slovenians and Romanians go skitouring: Slovenians are using ski crampons more frequently than we do, even on short climbs where we would not even think about them.

The next surprize was the landscape, which was not like anything else we have ever seen. Komna is a big limestone plateu filled with potholes, uneven terrain where you can barely find straight lines. The meadows are not flat, the slopes of the mountains have nonconstant inclination degree, everything is going up, down, up again, down again. On our way to Poljanica we had to ski down and climb out of several dolinas or traverse the very steep slopes surrounding them.

After taking a short break at Poljanica we mounted our ski crampons again and climbed about 400 meters up to the top of Kal, the skied down almost the same way. Pity that we did not see anything because of the fog... Back at Poljanica lunch, then climb up on Srednji Vrh where the fog started to go away and let us see some of Komna. The descent was stranger than I could have ever imagined: there were no long continuous slopes ever, but a succession of small hills having the descent side slightly longer than the the ascent side. This meant 20 meters of skiing and then 5 meters of climbing back on the next hill, then ski again - I did not count but I bet there were about 10 - 15 hills in the 300 meter descent. The whole scenery was very different than everything we've seen and it was kinda surrealistic, with all those small hills everywhere.

Tuesday we had slightly better weather conditions and our guides, Jure and Rok decided to hike Bogatin (1977 m). The hike also started with a 30 minute long valley filled with small hills and dolinas followed by a short hike and a long traverse under the peak. This was another difference in the Slovenian style of skitouring, that we engaged in very long traverses on very steep slopes instead of just climbing straight up on the main ridge and continue our hike from peak to peak.

After traversing the slopes under Bogatin we quickly climbed up on the ridge where we mounted our skis on the backpack and reached the top of Bogatin after a few minutes. Fog again, see nothing, but the descent was better than expected: a wide and steep slope covered with hard snow perfect for skiing. After lunch we found an other hill to ski down from and on our way to the hut a thick fog came again all over Komna and we could not see anything - we also got lost for a few minutes.

Wednesday morning a 20 cm fresh snow was waiting for us, and it just kept snowing like a crazy so after a short hike we decided to return to the hut because of the high avalanche danger. During a short stop Gogi showed us the norwegian way of testing the stability of the snow cover, while in the afternoon we learned about searching for victims buried in an avalanche. We tested using the avalanche radios (with other words: avalanche beacon, pronounced "avalanche bacon") by burying one of them in the snow and then trying to find where it is, then searching for the buried person or objects with the avalanche probe.

Since it snowed heavily Wednesday all day long it became obvious that we are not going to be able to do anything during the rest of the camp. Thursday was spent with playing around the house, building a fat snowman and playing on the funny track the Norwegians prepared for us. We also managed to clean the enormous amount of snow covering the roof of the hut. Friday the same, except that the weather got better and we could see the surroundings and the avalanches flowing on almost every slope. The special of the day was that thanks to Elisabeth I had the chance to try telemark skis on the neighbouring 10-meter-high hill. Telemark seemed very different than alpine skiing, it was a bit like flying on the snow - definitely loved it.

On Friday evening the avalanche risk was still very high and we were not sure if we would be able to descend on Saturday or we would have to wait an extra day, but the snow looked pretty good and we managed to get all of our luggage back to the cable car at Dom na Komni and ski down in the valley. After having the last lunch together we said goodbye to each other, hoping to see at least some of the people we met. And of course see Komna again, next time probably in the summer.

Catalina, Mihnea and Laci.

4 comentarii:

Anonim spunea...

Great lasko!!!
If I'm allowed, I'll use some of your text for my blog ;-).

Hope to see you all again!!


Anonim spunea...

no, Laci, ce ai tu in mana in una din poze se numeste Skiu! ala da! ;)

Anonim spunea...

intr-adevar, telemark-ul e ceva deosebit!

Anonim spunea...

Laslo great text !

Hope see all you again