Winter brings peace and quiet to the mountains. Cows’ and sheep’s bells are replaced by the silent steps of deer in the snow, and the vivid colours are replaced by more subtle tones. But hiking in winter has its traps. When there are higher temperatures in the valley, the mountain world can already be quite wintery in autumn. The first snow falls quite early in autumn and temperature oscillations make trails icy, thus causing the danger of falls that can be fatal. If you have a lot of experience, if you have checked the weather forecast, chosen a secure trail, if you are in shape and have appropriate equipment, then you are probably prepared to hike in the mountainous world. But you still need to consider some instructions given by the Bohinj Mountain Rescue Service.
Trails are covered in snow in winter, there are no markers, so it is very important to know the trail and the terrain. Due to the snow cover, skis or snowshoes should be used for hiking in winter. Without them, you can quickly get into trouble – the hike extends and requires a good physical condition. And you have to consider this when planning the hike.
You should consider that days are shorter and that distances take more time than in the summer. Huts are closed, except for some individual ones – Koča na Komni, Koča na Lipanci, Orožnova koča na planini Za Liscem, Voje and Uskovnica. The Koča pod Bogatinom alpine hut will be open from the end of February until the end of March. The tracks to those huts are mostly walked in winter, except in heavy snowfall. However, you always have to check the situation before the hike.
Carry enough clothes to will protect you against the cold and the wind. You also need a lamp and a fully charged mobile phone. Use sun protection too – glasses and sun protection cream. Wear appropriate shoes that should enable the option to attach crampons, though they are only useful if you also use an ice-pick. This equipment is not helpful if you don’t know how to use it. We also strongly advise not to use any replacements for crampons.
You must also to follow weather conditions. Snowfall and wind are the main reasons for snow slides. Therefore, you should carry an avalanche beacon, a shovel and a probe. This equipment does not guarantee that you won’t be surprised by an avalanche, it’s merely a tool in case you get caught under an avalanche. If this happens, it is most important that you get help, so you should not hike alone and all hikers must be appropriately equipped and trained to search for missing persons under an avalanche.
We recommend that winter hiking is done in the company of an experienced guide or mountain guide. A bivouac offers emergency shelter. But this should not be our goal. There are many bivouacs, but they mostly serve as emergency shelters. They don’t offer food and are not heated. Since these huts don’t have any keepers, if you want to stay in a bivouac, it is important to clean up when you leave.
Please hike wisely. If you don’t have sufficient experience, hike with a mountain guide. For those of you who would like to explore the mountains, Bohinj Mountain Rescue Service recommends attending appropriate courses and lectures related to safe hiking in winter. Don’t hike alone and before any expedition, notify your relatives and friends. Before departure, get information about which trails are passable, because even less demanding trails will be strenuous enough and you will be able to enjoy winter hiking without taking unnecessary risks and exposing yourselves to danger.
The levels of danger base on the European 5-level danger scale. The data about the danger of snow slides are only informative. The data have been obtained in the field from automatic meteorological stations and Triglav National Park supervisors.