Slovenia is a relatively small country, but it packs in an incredible amount of beautiful natural spaces for its size. A climber will have a choice of long mountain routes, abundant sport climbs and bouldering. Slovenian climbers are known for being very good and have made an incredible mark on the competition scene. The routes are of a similarly high standard and there aren’t any soft grades here. The country has lots of other outdoor activities other than climbing, and Slovenian people have a great love of the outdoors.
The small town of Osp and the surrounding valleys are home to the best sport climbing in Slovenia. Around fifteen kilometres away from Koper, Slovenia’s biggest city on the Mediterranean, the climate here is mild and perfect for climbing from autumn all the way through until spring.
Mišja Peč is a stunning crag, with more than 150 routes on high quality limestone. The crag is large, steep and imposing. Mišja Peč would be a quality standout venue anywhere in the world. The lion’s share of routes here start in the seventh grade and go up from there. Although there are a small amount of easier routes here, there are other crags nearby which are better for lower grade climbers.
The climbing style is very varied with everything from short cruxy routes to endless tufa wrestling matches. The option to choose between Tufa routes or crimpy wall climbs makes the venue very versatile. The crag is steep enough that you can climb in the rain and it will stay dry. Eventually tufas will get wet from seepage, but there will always be some dry rock to climb here.
Mišja Peč is deserving of its popularity and reputation as a major European crag. The routes were all really well equipped and the rock is of very high quality. The only downside is that the popular routes, particularly those in the low sevens, can be quite polished. However this is no different to what you would find at other popular areas like Siurana.
Banje and Babna is another large crag with around 150 routes, with lots to climb throughout the seventh grade as well as in the upper sixes. We found the climbing here to be devious and technical on great rock. To have all of these different sectors so close gives an incredible amount of climbing and it is all really good quality. Being a local in this part of Slovenia would be great and you’d have to be a real machine to run out routes to climb.
This area is near the famous cave of sector Luknja. With these sectors we found that access is clearly a contentious issue. As we found lots of no entry and private property signs. Banje and Babna were easy to find via the recommended and legal approach. However, we couldn’t seem to find a route to sector Luknja that wouldn’t have been trespassing. There is most likely a way, but we couldn’t find it. The last thing we want to do is get a crag banned or increase tension so we stuck to Banje and Babna. Thankfully there are loads of quality routes there that kept us occupied.
Črni Kal is a classic old school venue with over 200 routes on technical vertical walls. The crag is perfectly suited for lower grade climbers with around 150 routes under 7a. The routes can be polished, although the level of polish varies massively from route to route and between sectors. As the crag is not so steep it doesn’t stay dry in the rain. However, it is south facing so dries quickly and is a good option for cold days. For climbers of two different abilities, it is easily possible to visit Mišja Peč and Črni Kal in the same day. The two crags are only 4 kilometres apart (around a 5 minute drive). This gives you 350 routes from 4a to 9a+ and this is not including Banje and Babna!
Around fifty kilometres away from Osp is the Vipava area, the second most popular sport climbing area in the country. With over 400 routes here there is plenty to go at and there are a good range of grades. The best crag in the area is Vipavska Bela, which has 130 routes ranging from 4c to 8c. These crags are not true winter venues like Osp area, and are best visited in Spring or Autumn. The Vipava area would be a good option if the Osp crags are too hot.
Triglav National Park
No trip to Slovenia would be complete without a visit to Triglav national park. The mountain of Triglav is popular with hikers during the summer, but in sport climbing season it will be under a heavy blanket of snow. Unless you’ve packed crampons and axe as well as kneepad and chalk bag, it will be better to hike in the valleys. There are thousands of alpine routes here in the Julian Alps, but they are beyond the scope of this article. Thankfully there are loads of great walks at all levels to enjoy. Popular areas like Lake Bled are beautiful but very busy. There are numerous quieter areas with equally beautiful views but with far less people. We only spent a few days in Triglav on our way to Italy, but it is somewhere we will definitely return to visit in the future.
Slovenia is a fantastic country, perfectly suited for the outdoor enthusiast. The climbing here is of a high standard, enough to rival many major European destinations. We had a great time climbing here and enjoying the wonderful nature Slovenia has to offer. Coupled with mild and reliable weather it is a great choice of location for a winter sport climbing trip. Slovenia is also surrounded by other countries with great climbing and it deserves a place on anyones road trip.