Climbing for everybody – fourth mountain week in Slovenian winter

Climbing for everybody – fourth mountain week in Slovenian winter
Author: Manca Čujež

From 5 to 11 March 2018 the Alpine Association of Slovenia hosted the fourth mountain week of the international project Climbing for everybody in the Planica Valley in the heart of Slovenian Julian Alps. The three-year-project, co-funded by European Commission, programme Erasmus+: Sport, Youth and EU Aid Volunteers, is being implemented in partnership of six European alpine associations: Czech, Croatian, Hungarian, Italian, Slovak and Slovenian.
International project Climbing for everybody is taking place from January 1st 2016 to December 31st 2018 and is being implemented in partnership of six alpine associations from the European Union: Český horolezecký svaz (CHS), Hrvatski planinarski savez (HPS), Magyar Hegy- és Sportmászó Szövetseg (MHSSZ), Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), Slovensky horolezecky spolok JAMES (SMU JAMES) and Planinska zveza Slovenije (PZS).

90 participants from six countries at the fourth mountain week in Planica, Slovenia (photo by Manca Čujež)

The main project objective is to encourage people of all ages and especially young ones to take active part in sport activities related to climbing and all kinds of mountain sports. The project wants to show that mountain and climbing sports are not reserved to selected extreme climbers conquering ice walls of eight-thousand peaks. Mountaineering and climbing historically belong to grassroot sports (rather say physical activities) which have allways built on values as physical fitness, friendship, community, responsibility for your own life and life of a partner on the rope, courage, mutual respect, respect for nature. These values were always accompanied by a social behaviour as generational transmission of values and experience, voluntary compliance with the written and unwritten ethical standards, volunteering, confession of a healthy sporting lifestyle, voluntary sharing of skills and experiences etc. The project wants to build on these values and wants to show that these activities can be practiced by anyone including people with physical dissabilities, and that everyone can even conquer his/her own “north face” on the rocks nearby the city or in the climbing hall.

Transmission of values and experience also through the work of expert groups (photo by Manca Čujež)

In addition to other activities, more attention is being paid to the organization of five exchanges, so called mountain weeks, in all partner countries, except for Hungary. The purpose of these meetings is to exchange experience, present opportunities for climbing and mountaineering in each country, and to find solutions to common problems. The initial mountain week was in autumn 2016 in Adršpach, Czech Republic, the next in June 2017 in High Tatras, Slovakia, in October 2017 was the meeting in Paklenica, Croatia, and between 5 and 11 March 2018 the host was Slovenia. The last exchange is going to take place in Italy in September 2018.

Ice climbing in the Tamar Valley (photo by Vlado Linek)

“We are coming to the final phase of the project Climbing for Everybody. For the PZS, the organization of the mountain week in Planica and hosting of 90 alpinists and mountaineers from six partner countries is certainly the highlight. Exchange of experience and knowledge among the national mountaineering and climbing organizations is very efficient. In spite of all the similarities we are quite different and all together we are facing the challenge of further development of mountaineering and climbing in the EU. The special contribution to the project are exchanges, where we have made many acquaintances and new international connections, which is an excellent basis for further mountaineering activity,” told Damjan Omerzu, the Slovenian project leader.

At the beginning of March 90 participants from Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia met in the Planica Valley near Kranjska Gora in the heart of the Slovenian Julian Alps. The members of associations attended expert groups and in spite of not the best weather and snow conditions climbers from all the countries experienced winter mountaineering, ice climbing, dry-tooling, ski mountaineering and even alpine climbing, mostly in the Julian Alps and the Karawanks. They also attended ski touring and avalanche workshops and listened to the lectures of dr. Igor Mekjavić about acclimatization and hyperbaric training, and of the famous Slovenian alpinists Davo Karničar and Andrej Štremfelj. They also visited Slovenian Mountaineering Museum and Ljubljana Climbing Centre.

Avalanche workshop for the participants of the Erasmus+ Climbing for Everybody project in Planica (photo by Manca Čujež)

Miha Habjan, Slovenia: “The Erasmus exchange, which we now host in Planica, is intended for winter climbing and other mountaineering activities. Already in the preparation of the project, we received a winter mountain week because of the numerous possibilities offered by the Slovenian Alps in winter. Unfortunately, weather and snow conditions do not serve the best this week, but the participants are still fully active every day. The previous polar week left us some ice for ice climbing, with adjustments there is quite a lot of ski mountaineering and winter hiking, professional workshops are intended for learning and new experience. Despite the gray weather, the Slovenian winter week is a good opportunity for participants to gain first or upgrade their winter experience. With an additional afternoon and evening educational and social programme, this is the true Alpine winter week, marked by the Slovenian.”

Vlado Linek, Slovakia: “This is the third year of Erasmus+ project. The first meeting in Czech Republic with special climbing ethic in sandstone was an interesting experience for climbers from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Hungary. The second meeting in High Tatras in Slovakia was alpine climbing in summer, the next in Paklenica offered us big wall climbing, and in Slovenia we are during the winter and have a chance for ice climbing, ski mountaineering, winter mountaineering. Every mountain week is different and gives us another experience. They are not only intended for climbing activities but also for expert groups, I’m the leader of the group communication with nature protection officials and access problems. We are solving problems how to communicate with officials and how to visit climbing areas without problems.”

The lecture of the Slovenian alpinist Davo Karničar about Skiing the 7 Summits (photo by Manca Čujež)

Antonijo Begić, Croatia: “This ia already my fourth Climbing for Everybody meeting, which I assess as very successful. It brings us plenty of new experience and connections from different countries. Conditions in Slovenia are not the best, but you can adjust your activity and go ice climbing and ski mountaineering. Such cooperation is very welcome for sharing experience and knowledge – everyone does something in a different way and you can take the best from every practice and try to introduce that at home. It works for climbing and for the expert groups as well.”

Viktor Agoston, Hungary: “In Slovenia I’m already at the fourth mountain week. If we didn’t know exactly at the beginning, now it’s clear that the most important aspect in social networking. The project is cooperation of different countries, different people, but with the same interests, activities and with similar goals. We’ve made friends with the climbers from different countries and keep in touch also by organizing climbing trips together. I had planned to ice climb as much as possible in Planica, but it’s getting warmer, but there is still a lot of opportunities for good ski mountaineering.”

The group of ski mountaineers at Trupejevo poldne hill in the Karawanks (photo by Miha Habjan)

Yáchym Srb, Czech Republic: “I’ve been to all of the exchanges, to Adršpach, Tatras, Paklenica and now in Planica. The project is good experience, you get to meet a lot of new people, you do some climbing together. Some workshops through the whole programme are really interesting, I would like to specifically mention the presentation of dr. Mekjavić about hyperbaric training and how it affects your sport performance, and the lecture of Davo Karničar, I would like to see him ski. In Slovenia I went ski mountaineering and if the weather gets better I would like to go to Jalovec.”

Thomas Gusmeo, Italy: “These exchanges gives me the opportunity to meet climbers, mountaineers and friends also from the countries I haven’t thought of as climbing destinations. I’ve been always climbing in Italy, France and Germay, therefore I’ve been surprised how much do we have in common with Chech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia. I’ve met many friends and stayed in touch with some, which are not coming to every mountain week. I would love to ski through Jalovčev ozebnik, but due to the high avalanche risk that will stay for other time.”


Vse poti plezalcev iz Češke, Hrvaške, Italije, Madžarske, Slovaške in Slovenije so od 5. do 11. marca 2018 vodile v Planico, kjer je Planinska zveza Slovenije gostila srečanje triletnega mednarodnega projekta Plezanje za vse. Četrta izmenjava pod okriljem programa Erasmus+ je v središče postavila zimsko alpinistično dejavnost, zaradi razmer tokrat večinoma ledno plezanje in turno smučanje, teden pa je minil v znamenju mreženja udeležencev, izmenjave znanja in izkušenj ter iskanja idej za dodatno približanje plezanja in planinstva širši javnosti.

Manca Čujež

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