Visoki Kanin / Monte Canin Alto and its massif is located in Slovenia and Italy, since its southern and eastern ridge is the border between the two countries.
I will use Slovenian names when I write about the Slovenian part, and use Italian names for the Italian part.
It was back in 1999 when I first encountered high mountains.
I was sitting in a car with 4 of my caver friends, and we were heading towards Predel / Predil pass from Italy. After we passed the border, I first spotted the giants of the Western Julian Alps like Mangart and Jalovec.
I was enchanted. First I couldn't take even a breath! How beautiful these peaks are! And I am going to descend deep under them... What a pity.
I began to click my cheap pocket camera through the car window like an insane. Didn't care about traffic signs and trees and poles would be on the pictures, just wanted to take home all the scenery.
We arrived at the last minute before the start of the last cable car in Sella Nevea.
Hauled the huge sacks from the car to the station, and began the ascent. An immense panorama to the north, to Vis and Montaz group opened before my eyes through the scratched window of the cabin. I could not close my mouth...
Then we occupied the attic of Rifugio Gilberti, and I went outside and looked around.
All the eastern part of the Kanin / Canin ridge was above me, from Prestreljenik / Monte Forato to Srednji Vrsic, and Bila Pec.
It was February, the cold was harsh and the snow was screaming under my boots.
The second day we went through Sella Bila Pec in deep snow with heavy rucksacks, and we were hauling extra bags. It took several hours to get to Davanzo-Vianello-Piccola bivouac on Col delle Erbe. At this time the old bivouac was still open, and the new one was under construction. From this point I beheld the huge north face of Monte Canin / Visoki Kanin, and I knew my fate... I must come back and go to the top someday...
And then we descended deep below the surface into Michele Gortani System and spent a week underground, and I have been dreaming about those beautiful mountains.
That is the short story of how my love to mountains had begun.
Three years had passed since the first encounter and I was in Sella Nevea again, with my best friend, and we planned to climb Monte Canin / Visoki Kanin, and maybe Bila Pec.
The plan was we spend the first night in Rifugio Gilberti, then go to Sella Bila Pec and set up the tent there, and go for Bila Pec on the second day. On the third day we planned Canin, the fourth day would be our descent.
It was February again. The weather was fine, just windy, and lots of soft snow covered the slopes.
None of our plans were successful.
We were totally novices, especially my friend, we didn't know anything about winter mountaineering, the weather, the snow conditions... Should I continue? :)
So it was a bit foolish of us, but fortunately we didn't get into trouble.
I was totally embarrassed we didn't climb anything, and determined to come back some day.
In 2006 February I was standing in Bovec to try an easier way to climb Kanin, actually the Slovenian normal route below the east ridge.
See trip report.
I was unsuccessful again with Kanin, because the weather was so bad that I could climb only on the first day of our excursion.
In 2006 October I went back and finally reached the summit from Sella Nevea on Via Julia ferrata. My friend decided not to go for it because he was tired, so we split up, he headed towards Marussich bivouac and Peravo saddle for an easier hike, I went for Via Julia.
We will meet in Rifugio Gilberti's winterraum in the evening.
The climb was fantastic, and until afternoon I had great views to the north, to Vis and Montaz (Jof Fuart and Jof di Montasio) group. But then clouds descended on me and blocked all the views I could have been enjoyed from the summit. It was late in the afternoon and I decided to descend on the normal route instead of the northwestern ridge. It was a very long and exhausting walk. I thought I will never reach the refuge...
But I had it! I had stood on the top of Canin and I was happy and satisfied. Doing it alone was a perfect feeling, I loved the solitude and I could see deep inside myself.
But this was not enough! I must see panorama from the top, in nice weather, I want it in its whole beauty. And I also wanted some more adventure and planned to do the Alta Via Resiana traverse from south to northwest one day, just to test if I could climb more than 2200 hm in one day. And of course I love ridges, and this could be definitely a beautiful one.
I missed a couple of occasions, due to bad weather, to my partners who cancelled the trip in the last minute, and so on. I was getting nervous.
Why can't I climb Canin as I wish? Is it Karma? Or what?
The last plan was the long weekend from 1st to 4th November, 2007.
I must go and I must succeed.
I had a partner who ensured me that he will not step back. He is Peti, and a master in meteorology. His forecasts are deadly accurate, absolutely reliable.
But when I took a look to the forecasts on the internet, and saw the weather is going to be just perfect on the weekend from 13th to 14th October, I called Peti and we decided to go.
We departed at about 6 PM on Friday the 12th, and drove all the way to Bovec, and a little further until we found a parking lot near Srpenica, just next to Susec Gorge. Here we slept a little, and in the morning we quickly packed up, parked the car in Zaga which is at about 350 m above sea level.
Although we tried to carry the least stuff possible, we had rucksacks weighed ten and some kgs. 6 l of water per person, some food, outer shell, a 30 m rope, harness and some essential gear (belay device, prussik loops, a few carabiners, and a sling tape), helmet and headlamp, and sleeping bag.
The plan was to reach Bivouac Marussich in Peravo saddle this day, I calculated some 8-9 hours to get there. Maybe it would be 1-2 hours more, no problem, we have headlamps so we can descend on the northwestern ridge even in the evening.
So we started off finally at 9 AM, which is quite late, we knew, but that is the penalty if you live in a remote flat country and have to drive a lot to reach mountains, and if you don't want to be knocked out too early, you have to rest a little before climbing.
The sun was already shining when we began the ascent on the southern slopes of Kanin massif.
I have read some words about it, and yes, really, it is indeed an endless ascent.
First the path leads through the forest with some meadows in it, where little alpine lodges (for shepherds and the sheeps I think) lie. This part is quite long, and when we reached the last lodge at 1400 m it was 1 PM. Here we took a little rest, and enjoyed the panorama to the south with Krn and Polovnik ridge.
From this point, the path leads through a gently rising slope which is covered by big bunches of grass, and it was very tiring tumbling between them. It seemed the route is not often used, and here the signs were also rare because there was hardly anything to put the signs on. This part is called the Dolina, which leads to the Med Babo saddle between Mali Baba and Velika Baba. But the route turns towards the north before Velika Baba, and becomes steeper, and terrain changes to scree with big rocks (not the type of scree suitable for northern kangaroos). After a while we reach Med Babam saddle which is actually the beginning of Alta Via Resiana / Visoka Rosojanska Pot route. The route leads on the south ridge of Kanin, and there are a couple of intermediate peaks before the main summit. After the summit the route continues towards the northwest, towards Peravo saddle, and further to Monte Sart / Zrd.
Here we take a rest, eating and drinking, and of course enjoying the beautiful panorama to the east and west. We put on the helmets, and Peti puts on the harness, but not me because walking is not so comfortable in it, and there was no place in sight where it would be necessary. After a while we started on the gently rising south ridge of Vrh Zlebi / Monte Slebe. First it is only walking on rocky grassy terrain, but after some meters it changes to scrambling, and later climbing, easy UIAA I-II grade. But there is not cable assurance, and since it is a ridge, it is quite exposed. I'm smiling inside and outside as well, as we are progressing towards the peak. I love this day, this weather, the views, and the ridge route. Just brilliant fun! At this point I felt that maybe 2 hours and we will enjoy summit panorama from Kanin.
Suddenly Peti strains his right leg by a wrong movement during climbing a rock. He says it hurts quite well but he can continue.
Then we arrive to a slab where we have to descend some 20 meters. The climb is not so difficult, maybe UIAA III-III+, but is exposed, and I wondered what would it be like when wet or snowy or icy...
Then we had to cross a couloir on a little exposed ledge, on which, at the upper part, the rocks were loose on the ground but there were good handholds. At the end we reached the top of Vrh Zlebi, and could take a look at the remainder of the route. Vrh Laske Planje / Monte Lasca Plagna was in front of us to the north, no other peaks of the ridge was visible.
Here we were at 2317 m, and can say we have made 2000 hm so far this day, and yes, we were feeling it, especially in our legs. Peti told me his leg is getting worse, and since it was late also, maybe 6 PM, we decided to spend the night here because there was a grassy spot big enough to accomodate the two of us. We made a fence of rocks around, I put our rescue blankets on the ground, and piled all stuff beneath the sleeping bag, to substitute the mat.
We had no bivouac sacs, so if wind had come, we would have been in problem because wind blows through the sleeping bag. But I had big litter sacks so we pulled them on the bottom of the sleeping bag, and it reached until its middle, so it was much more than nothing. Then we made some meal and enjoyed the wonderful sunset. Fortunately the wind left us in peace, it just puffed us sometimes, but not harsh. The temperature dropped to -1, -2 °C in the night, so it was quite pleasant. I woke up only once during the night, when Peti went out for a little sanitary walk.
I woke up first and has been welcome by the beautiful sunrise behind the major summits of Julian Alps - Mangart, Jalovec, Skrlatica, Razor, Triglav, and Krn... It was magnificent!
One perfect sunrise!
I didn't want to get out from the warmth of my orange cocoon, although it was not very cold outside. When Peti awakened, I jumped up and began to pack the stuff into the rucksack. I could only drink a little, had no appetite for a breakfast, so I was quickly ready to go.
Then we set off, and after a few meters we found a 20 m drop below our feet, secured with a cable. It must be more difficult than any previous part I thought. Yes, it was. But nothing serious, the cable is brand new and good placed. Without it it would be an UIAA IV climb. Peti told me that it was a good decision to spend the night on the top because he couldn't have been descended here in the evening due to his hurting leg. But now he was allright, and quickly followed me down. From the notch we began to ascend Vrh Laske Planje. Here the climbing is easier, UIAA II, but not less exposed than earlier. I enjoy it very much because the rock here is solid, and of very good quality. Sticky and there are plenty of good holds and steps. After a while we reach the summit, and the panorama is immense from here.
We could see now The Kanin Triumvirate, which is Pod Kaninom, Mali Kanin / Monte Canin Basso, and Visoki Kanin / Monte Canin Alto. As the weather was perfectly clear, we could see far to every direction. I was unearthly happy and felt myself in heaven. Finally I am here and everything is perfect, and we are almost there.
We quickly continued towards north on the long ridge of Vrh Laske Planje, and we found hard packed snow patches on it. At the end, we had to descend on a longer snow slope, which was hard enough to hold even crampons - but we didn't have them. Just kicked some little steps, and we were down on rock again.
The next peak is Crni Vogel / Cerni Vogu, 2422 m high. Soon we reach its top, take a look around and enjoying the gorgeous views. We are getting closer and closer to Kanin, and I am more and more excited.
Down on the north ridge of Crni Vogel, I climb down to a narrow ledge, which is followed by two more, they are not flat but they are sloping down towards the west flank of the mountain, which is vertical here, with a huge few hundred meters drop.
On these ledges are loose scree, it seems the ridge structure had collapsed down, and even the vertical sections were unstable, so I could hold nothing safely, furthermore the steps were moving... I looked around where could I fix an anchor, but I would have not rely on those rocks... I tried to climb down twice but my sense warned me I didn't came to die here so it is time to turn back... I was disappointed and angry even on myself because I couldn't solve this problem. But we didn't want to risk a fall, which would have been lethal for sure, and we can come back again next time, Kanin will stay here for quite a while...
So we turned around and began to do all the hard work back on the same route we came along until this point.
I am completely sure that this is Karma. I was not allowed to reach the summit now because the route, and the mountain does not want my interest to be decreased. I have ideas why. Certainly I will come back. But why am I not allowed to reach the summit? The route won't be completed since we have no time to descend on the northwest and come back with a huge circle via Sella Bila Pec - Rifugio Gilberti - Prevala pass - Krnica ridge...
Those were my thoughts when we climbed back on Vrh Laske Planje. The views were breathtaking, the sun was high and the morning mist veils disappeared from the valleys, so everything was very clear.
I took us some 3 hours to get back to Med Babam saddle. Here we took a short break, and then ran down the southern slopes like an insane.
We arrived back down to Zaga at 5 PM totally exhausted, quickly put the stuff in the car and refreshed ourselves in the small pool at the bottom of Susec Gorge.
The endless ascent and especially the descent totally ruined our legs, I still have a muscle fever in my thighs.
So I have to come back again, but I can say after I had climbed all around Canin, I will gladly go back at any time because my love for the first mountain I have seen will never fade.