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Karavanke / Karawanken
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Karavanke / Karawanken

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Karavanke / Karawanken

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Karavanke/Karawanken, Austria/Slovenia, Europe

Lat/Lon: 46.43420°N / 14.17910°E

Object Title: Karavanke / Karawanken

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Via Ferrata, Skiing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 7335 ft / 2236 m


Page By: Vid Pogachnik

Created/Edited: Apr 10, 2004 / Sep 20, 2015

Object ID: 152510

Hits: 28074 

Page Score: 88.61%  - 27 Votes 

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Kosutnikov turn from the east
Košutnikov Turn

What's new on this page?

September 19th, 2015 - Geological Outline
> September 29th, 2013 - SP V3 design updated, images embedded.
> July 22nd, 2007 - Links to a new page added: Trupejevo poldne / Techantinger Mittagskogel.
> March 24th, 2007 - Links to two new pages added: Oistra/Ojstra and Topitza/Topica.
> January 20th, 2007 - The Mountain biking chapter added.

The name

General remark: (When reading Slovenian words on maps or in books, you will find special characters for ch, sh, and zh. They are written with c, s and z with a caron - little v above them.)

The name of the range is very old. Alredy Claudio Ptolomeo (Claudius Ptolemy) refers to it as: Καρουάγκας (karuankas). Some scholars see its origin in Celtic language. "Kar" is a rocky area and the neighbouring Carnic Alps might have a similar origin.

The group I am describing here is named Karavanke in Slovenian language and Karawanken in German.

The purpose of this page

On this page I would like to summarise information, common to all summits of the range. Gradually important mountains have been receiving their own pages. Please add all specific information there, not here!

Karavanke from the summit of...
The long chain of Karavanke, as seen from the summit of Struška

Karavanke presented

Zell / Sela
Zell / Sela, north of Košuta range
Pristovški Storzic, Jezersko
haubi - Pristovški Storžič
Sum waterfall
Šum waterfall
In the not so distant past it was said that Karavanke mountains are dividing Slovenian people who are living south of the range from those who are living within the Austrian state north of the range. Later, when political relations warmed, it was said that Karavanke mountains were connecting the German speaking people north of the range with Slavic people south of it. And today, luckily, all this political rhetoric is becoming more or less irrelevant. If mountains were not there, people would merge and communicate even more readily, as they are where they are, we both climb them and meet on their summits. And it's all well again, as long as European Union is fair to all the constituent nations.

Karavanke belong to Southern Limestone chain of European Alps. They are similar to Carnic Alps, Julian Alps or Kamnik Alps, although they are a bit lower, so many of their important peaks are grassy on southern side and rocky only on northern side. The whole range stretches about 120 kilometers in the west-east direction. They begin on Megvarje vrata / Maglern Thoerl on the west and finish with forehills around Slovenj Gradec town.

Northern border of the range is clear - it lies on Drava/Drau river. On the west, southern border is Sava river, but soon after Jesenice town Karavanke range starts to hide behind Kamnik Alps (from our, southern perspective, of course). So from this point the south border of the chain is hard to describe, it is evident from the embedded Google map below.

Karavanke range is a paradise for hiking and tour skiing. Almost all summits can be reached by marked paths. Summits offer wonderful panoramas, especially on Julian Alps and Kamnik Alps, which are close, while towards the north views are far more open. In the range there are also some climbing areas.

Geological Outline

The northern (Austrian) part of Central Karavanke range illustrates the lithological structure.

Meli rock towers
Rock towers in the E face of Tolsta Košuta
In a geological sense, Karavanke/Karawanken are a very diverse mountains. As said, the chain is considered to be a part of the Southern Alps, a big mountain group with a predominant limestone rock structure. But in a geological sense, this is only partially true. The big periadriatic fault (lineament) is actually cutting the long W-E oriented group into a roughly northern part and southern part. The fault is coming from the west by the valley of Gail/Zilja, then goes by the northern side of Karavanke, but in the narrow group of Stol it goes by the northern side of Stol, Vrtača, Košuta, and then over Šajda saddle and Eisenkappel valley towards the east. Only the southern part of Karavanke (the highest mountains) geologically belongs to the Southern Alps, and has to a certain degree similar lithological structure. The northern part (Obir, Peca,...) is in the upper part also built of Mesozoic rocks, but belongs to the Austroalpine nappe, specifically to the "Drauzug", so its history of sedimentation is similar to the one of the Northern Limestone Alps. In between, in the vicinity of the Periadriatic fault (around Eisenkappel) a stretch of metamorphic rocks is unearthed (granit, tonalit) and more towards the east also a stretch of volcanic rocks can be found.

Only the summits of Karavanke mountains are built of Triassic limestones (and partially dolomites). These are superimposed on older paleozoic rocks. The latter are in the very western end of Karavanke forming also the rounded summits (Peč), similarly as in the nearby (across Ziljica river) Eastern Carnic Alps. More towards the east Paleozoic rocks can be found only in the valleys and geological faults. The exception is the broader area of Stegovnik (and the summits further eastwards towards Pristovški Storžič). On these Devonian limestones are forming also the summits and ridges, being thrusted over younger Carboniferous flysch layers. By its geological diversity and abundance of fossils, Dolžanova soteska (canyon) is worldwide known.

The highest summits of Karavanke are made of Triassic limestones and partially of other limestones and dolomites. Several hundreds thick layers (Wetterstein, Dachstein limestone) are lying on Carboniferous and Permian layers. This is the highest thrust of the chain. The lower thrust can be clearly seen even more to the south. All the way from Kranjska Gora on the west towards Boč on the east, you can see rock structures thrusted from the north (so, having short, steep southern walls). Those hills are by origin of course much older, from Devonian to older Triassic era.

On the south Karavanke are being limited by the Sava fault. More to the east the Southern Karavanke are closely connected to the Kamnik and Savinja Alps, another Southern Alps group, which is however even a bit younger by origin and also geologically more homogeneous.

What to do there?

Karavanke range offers just something to everybody. Not a big, famous resort, which would be very popular across Europe, but in many areas still peaceful and with preserved nature. There you can do:

Srednji vrh in Karavanke
On the summit of Pec/Ofen/M. Forno
haubi - Climbing
Dovska Baba
Tour skiing

Not to tease people only with flowers...
Admiring nature
Martuljek group
Enjoying panoramas
A masterpiece of farmers...
Admire cultural heritage

I have only a day or two...

If you have time only for a weekend or so, then know Karavanke by visiting their central part. Drive from the Austrian side into Baerental and continue below the north face of Stol/Hochstuhl. Any time of a year, there you can do a nice tour, in summer conditions also a round trip, including the highest summit.

Subgroups and summits

As there are no evident subgroups, I shall list here the important summits from the west towards the east. Because there are some passes, which cross Karavanke range, summits will still be grouped. The summits, which have their own SummitPost pages, can be seen on the map below. Click on the marker of a mountain and then on the link to open its SP page.

View Karavanke in a larger map

Western part

Mojstrovica scenery
Kepa from the west, from the summit of Mojstrovica
haubi - Begunjščica from Vrtača
Peč / Dreilaendereck / Tre Confini, 1510 m. Grassy summit on the border of three states (Austria, Italy, Slovenia), nice mountain bike tour, ski resort on north.

Vošca, 1737 m. Grassy summit above Kranjska gora. Ski tour.

Trupejevo poldne / Techantinger Mittagskogel. 1931 m. Grassy and rocky summit above Martuljek. Ski tour.

Visoki vrh and Mojstrovica. Two less important summits just above the valley of Sava.

Kepa, 2143 m. Nice shaped cone peak, a true landmark of Austrian Kaernten. Marked paths, a ski tour towards the NE.

Dovška Baba, 1891 m. Grassy summit, very popular for tour skiing.

Hruški vrh and Klek, 1776 m. Grassy summits, very popular for tour skiing.

Golica, 1835 m. Grassy summit, steep ski tour, hut just below the summit. The area famous by narcissus fields.

Struška/Baerentaler Kotchna, 1944 m. Grassy summit, nice for tour skiing.

Vajnež, 2104 m. Grassy summit on the south, rocky on the north, close to the highest summit - Stol. A few great ski tours.

Stol/Hochstuhl, 2236 m. Grassy summit on the south, rocky on the north. A few great ski tours, a few rock climbs, a nice ferrata.

Kozjak/Geissberg, 2016 m. A nice, panoramic summit with great views on Stol/Hochstuhl. In winter nice for skiing.

Vrtača/Wertatscha, 2181 m. Steep grass on the south, high rocky north face. Hard ski tours, rock scrambles, a few harder climbs.

Palec/Selenitza, 2027 m. A sharp rocky summit, some nice climbs in the N face.

Begunjščica, 2060 m. Steep grass on the south, rocky on the north. Many nice, steep ski tours - very popular.

Eastern part

Panoramic view from Veliki Vrh
Branko - On Košuta range
Košutnikov Turn, 2133 m (highest point of 12 km long Košuta ridge). Grassy on the south, rocky north face. Tour skiing, climbing.

Setiče, 1922 m. Grassy summit north of the main Karavanke range.

Hochobir/Ojstrc, 2139 m. A lonesome massif north of the main Karavanke range. Nice ski tour, great panorama.

Plešivec, Pečovnik, Virnikov Grintavec, Pristovski Storžič, Veliki Vrh, Ruč, Stegovnik, Mali Javornik, Ženiklovec/V. Javornik - Lower summits, covered with forrests and grass, only partly rocky. Nice views on Kamnik Alps and other groups. Hikes, some ski tours.

Oistra/Ojstra and Topitza/Topica - two lower summits in the northern range. Especially Oistra offers a nice view around.

Olševa, 1929 m. Grassy and rocky ridge, popular with stone windows and a cave. Also a ski tour.

Peca, 2125 m. Very broad grassy and rocky massif. Ski resort on the northern side.

Uršlja gora, 1696 m. Grassy summit, easternmost in Karavange range. A hut and nice church just below the summit.

Mountain Biking

Klemensek farm
On the panoramic road below Olševa - Klemenšek farm
Karavanke/Karawanken are also great for biking tours. In this chapter I'll list only a few. When the list gets more complete, I might do a special page.

Peč, 1510 m. Wonderful, very panoramic tour. 22.0 km, 670 m of altitude difference. Difficulty: medium/hard. 2 hours.
Course: Rateče (0.0 km, 870 m) - Podkoren (2.7 km, 840 m) - below Korensko sedlo turn left (5.5 km, 1080 m) - below Petelinjek turn right up (11.5 km, 1280 m) - summit of Peč (14.2 km, 1510 m) - back to the crossroads, there turn right (16.9 km, 1280 m) - Rateče (22.0 km, 870 m).

Blekova Meadow, 1629 m. Long, panoramic ascent, very steep and hard descent. 24.9 km, 859 m of altitude difference. Difficulty: hard/very hard. 3 hours.
Course: Kranjska Gora (0.0 km, 810 m) - Podkoren (1.4 km, 840 m) - below Korensko sedlo turn right (4.6 km, 1080 m) - Jureževa planina (12.3 km, 1450 m) - Blekova planina (15.4 km, 1629 m) - Železnica valley (16.8 km, 1550 m) - Srednji vrh (20.2 km, 960 m) - Kranjska Gora (24.9 km, 810 m).

Veliki Vrh Saddle, 1230 m. Over fore-hills above Sava. 23.6 km, 650 m of altitude difference. Difficulty: medium hard. 2 hours.
Course: Jesenice (0.0 km, 600 m) - Dovje (8.6 km, 700 m) - on Presušnik creek drive right (15.3 km, 1070 m) - Veliki Vrh Saddle (16.7 km, 1230 m) - via Plavški rovt down in Jesenice (23.7 km, 600 m).

Around Španov vrh and on Suha saddle, 1438 m. A bit more demanding on the upper part, where we reach the panoramic main ridge. 19.0 km, 578 m of altitude difference. Difficulty: partly hard. 2 hours.
Course: Planina pod Golico (0.0 km, 950 m) - Prihodi (1.5 km, 860 m) - Around Španov vrh on Križovec saddle (10.1 km, 1222 m) - over Pusti rovt on Suha saddle (12.9 km, 1438 m) - back to Križovec saddle (15.6 km, 1222 m) - Planina pod Golico (19.0 km, 950 m).

Below Košuta, 1560 m. Beautiful, panoramic biking over nice alpine meadows. 29.8 km, 1048 m of altitude difference. Difficulty: very hard. 3 hours 30 minutes.
Course: Tržič (0.0 km, 510 m) - Putrhof in Jelendol (6.4 km, 760 m) - right on next crossroads (10.4 km, 1220 m) - left on Zali potok crossroads (11.8 km, 1300 m) - Over Pungrat to Šija meadow (16.3 km, 1530 m) - Kofce hut (17.7 km, 1460 m) - right on the ridge elevation Ravne (18.9 km, 1300 m) - via Matizovec farm to Podljubelj (24.5 km, 680 m) - Tržič (29.8 km, 510 m).

Getting There

Winter in Sava valley. While...
In Sava valley - winter time
By plane
The nearest airports are:

1. Ljubljana airport, near the capital of Slovenia.
2. Klagenfurt airport, Kaernten.

By bus
There are regular bus connections along Sava, Drava and Savinja valleys and over passes Korensko sedlo / Wuerzen pass, Ljubelj/Loibl pass and Jezerski vrh / Seebergsattel.

By car
See the map.


You can see a detailed map on:

Austrian: http://www.austrianmap.at/.
Slovenian: www.geopedia.si/.

As of classical maps, you can refer to:

Karavanke, 1:20000. Planinska zveza Slovenije, or
Karavanke, Central part and Grintovci, 1:50000. Planinska zveza Slovenije.
Kranjska Gora (community tourist map), 1:30000 (only for the western part to Rozca/Rosenbachsattel saddle).

Red Tape

No limitations. For a few private roads on the Austrian side you must pay toll.

When To Climb

In summer best months are from start of July till end of October.

For tour skiing the best months are from December till April. First snow usually falls in November, in certain areas skiing is possible till start of May.

For tour skiing almost every summit of Karavanke is appropriate.

For climbing the best resorts are:
- north faces of Stol group and Vrtaca group
- north faces of Kosuta

Autumn on Srednji vrh
A winter scene from Plesivec


Below the Rozca saddle
Below Rožca saddle
Hoar Crystals
Hoar crystals in Lobnik valley
In valleys there are many tourist resorts. Along the whole Karavanke range there are many mountain huts, the most important are named below. In the massif there are no useful camping places.

Huts (from west to east):

Peč: Dreilaendereckhuette, 1423 m.

Kepa: Bertahuette, 1567 m, open from mid June to end of September, Tel 0664/5968677and Mittagskogelhuette, 1527 m.

Golica: Koča na Golici, 1582 m.

Struška: Dom Pristava, 975 m.

Stol: Valvasorjev dom, 1171 m, mobi: 051/ 328-648. Prešernova koča, 2172 m, mobi: 050/ 611 366, Klagenfurter Huette, 1663 m, tel.: 04253 / 8556, mobi: 0664 / 220 2929.

Vrtača, Begunjščica: Planinski dom na Zelenici, 1536 m. Tel.: 04/ 59-71 536.

Begunjščica: Roblekov dom, 1657 m.

Košuta: Dom na Kofcah, 1488 m, Koschutahaus, 1279 m.

Obir: Eisenkappler Huette, 1553 m.

Olševa: Koča pod Olševo, 1232 m.

Peca: Dom na Peci, 1731 m,

Uršlja gora: Dom na Uršlji gori, 1696 m.

Mountain Conditions

For weather see here.

The Older History of This Page

Koschuta, 2.136m
flow - Koschuta
> October 2nd, 2005 - Inserted links to a new page: Peca/Petzen.
> May 31st, 2005 - Inserted links to a new page: Golica/Kahlkogel.
> April 9th, 2005 - Inserted links to a new page: Hochobir/Ojstrc.
> March 21st, 2005 - Inserted links to a new page: Stegovnik & the surroundings.
> December 26th, 2004 - Inserted links to new pages: Palec/Selenitza, Struska/Baerentaler Kotchna.
> November 22nd, 2004: A new panoramic picture inserted.
> August 12th, 2004: Inserted links to Begunjscica page.
> July 16th, 2004: Inserted links to Kepa/Mittagskogel page.
> July 13th, 2004: A few pictures added, minor style corrections, one more map cited, Bertahuette info added.
> May 8th, 2004: Inserted links to Vrtaca/Wertatscha page.