Ski touring trip Zleb Hude Police is one of those winter endeavors that are just epic. Firstly, we are talking about one of the longest couloirs in the Julian Alps. Getting there is the climb that is respectfully strenuous. Skiing is invigoratingly steep and intensely diverse. The terrain is dotted with drops and ice falls that just calls for excellent navigation (or else...). Add to it almost perfect deep snow. If that is not enough, consider a night climb and staying overnight in a nearby bivouac. A visual symphony. Take a look at the story behind it.
Some places in the world are hard to get to. There is a reason why they should stay like that. That is: to inspire us to train harder, climb more, ski better and just be better outdoor men and women. Zleb Hude Police is one of those places.
To spots like that you go with people who have the right skill set, but above all who you know well and who know you well. Is there a better and safer way to move your limits? This was a personal trip where 3 of us decided to venture out in new terrain to sharpen our instincts and test our knowledge. None of us have hiked, climbed or skied in this area before. In all aspects, this was a proper adventure. If that is not enough, we made it even a tiny bit harder: starting the climb in the middle of the night.
Here is three of us arriving to the empty parking lot where the climb starts. This image was taken at midnight on February 14th. A kind of a Anti-valentine's day festivity. It was end of a week with deadlines, projects, work, resignations, baby time and all the things that make life what it is. This trip was squeezed in when it was best possible to make best use of near perfect ski mountaineering conditions. During a frugal winter like this, you don't get too many stabs at ideal ski touring snow.
When I look at it now - it feels that this trip wasn't getting away from it all. Quite the opposite. It was a part of the process of digesting the daily grind and discovering mental silence that is underneath it all - best heard and felt in places like this.
Start of the climb was through the valley just under Monte Nabois. Moon was up and snow was reflecting back from the snow-covered slopes as we skinned our way through the valley. Isn't a man merely speck on the nature's cloth - a firefly in the dark?
We reached 1.630m and bivouac Mazzeni, dag our way in and respectfully collected some hours of sleep.
Only next day (4h later) we saw bivouac's scenic position and the views that will follow us for the rest of the day.
The entire route has so many ups and downs that we stopped counting. I guess it was mentally strenous as much as it was physically.
Finally, here we go: Žleb Hude Police with Cime di Terrarossa rising to the right from it.
This image makes it look ridiculously flat. Objects sometimes are different from what they appear to be.
Excellent snow conditions though. Plenty of fresh snow and very cohesive snowpack. I guess it's one of the few upsides of having warm winters so snow bonds quicker.
Midsection of the couloir with deep views in the back. Doesn't look as flat from up here, right?
Start and end of Žleb Hude are 800m altitude difference apart. Last measured incline we did showed 45°. Beautiful.
Here is Neven climbing the last leg, where it was probably 50°.
On the saddle (Forca di Terra Rossa), at 2.349m in the top of the couloir, the snow was blown off by the strong wind last weeks. We ditched the hike up to Cime di Terrarossa (an extra couple of hundred meters), primarily because there wasn't enough snow to ski it.
Instead, we went straight down. Happy days!
Neven making his first turns in the steepest section.
Visually, one of the most inspiring routes we skied in a while.
I mean, look at this. Where ever you look to the left and right, there are couloirs to be skied. The one here is just under Viš. Right from this image (not visible here) is Škrbina pod Cijanerico (Forca Palone) which can be skied from both northern side (the one you're looking at) and southern side (overlooking Sella Nevea).
Turns and more turns.
Cliffs and more cliffs.
After the main couloir, this is where it gets fun. All following couloirs look excellent and promising, but all except one finish with a cliff or ice fall. Summer hiking route dotted in topo map doesn't really follow the couloir you need as a skier. Walking time.
The fourth attempt and we finally find the right couloir, with cliffs covered with ice.
This 'correct couloir' was where skiing was the most demanding on this particular day. Former avalanches and recent rainfall created snow boulders. Aco perfectly described their size: 'they are the size of dishwashers - it looks like kitchen wasteground'. With enough powder snow, jumping from one boulder to another was sometimes an option.
Then there were all those ups and downs that we had on the way up. Topo map was clear: follow the creek instead. Some more hoping and jumping.
Back in the valley, we were back on the Nordic skiing track.
'Look at that line there...we should do that one there next time.'
And we will. :)
Watch the video from this adventure mady by NevenGo:
Complement this piece with a story about ski mountaineering climb on Lenuhova route, watch a video about a proper powder day in Slovenian Alps or watch a spring ski touring video on Cmir mountain just next to Triglav national park.
On a slightly different note, watch a photo essay and video about circumnavigating Lošinj in a sea kayak.
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‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, biggest caves, deepest canyons or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world, moving our mental and physical limits on the way.