Rating the Tour (By Hiking Standards)
1. Effort: cca 1500m, 4h of ascent.
2. Power: 4 - Hard
3. Psyche: 4 - Hard (good skiing technique required)
4. Orientation: 3 - Medium.
ApproachSee the main page how to reach Vrata valley and Aljazev dom (hut).
The Ascent Route By Bivouac IVFrom the meadow below Aljazev dom (hut), 1015m you go by the marked path to Bivouac IV (towards NW). First you go through woods, then for a short time by a ravine and below Dolkova glava, 1717m again through woods. There you start crossing by a steep slope towards W (path).
After passing the rocks of Dolkova glava you start ascending over an open terrain again. Don't keep too much to the right, those steep couloirs are not worth gaining the altitude. Just continue comfortably on skis westwards.
After ascending over a few steps of this valley below Stenar, you reach a more closed valley, turning around the N wall of Stenar. Scenery is very fine, you already see the summit of Kriz, 2410m and the notch between it and Stenar. There you need to ascend. (From here, finding the Bivouac IV, if necessary, would mean to turn right, towards N, and ascend over a steep rocky step on the plateau, where bivouac stands.)
Ascending the valley behind Stenar is very comfortable, here are wonderful terrains for tour skiing - from the summit of Kriz, for example. But just before Stenarska vratca notch, 2295m, the situation changes. A very steep couloir (some 45 degrees) is awaiting us and we need to dismount skis. If snow is very hard or icy, we need ice pick (and crampons?) here.
Reaching the notch a breathtaking southern panorama opens. But this is only the beginning. The view on Triglav is still obscured. From the notch we can in good conditions proceed again on skis, but the first crossing is again very steep and also exposed, so it is perhaps better to go by foot and with an ice pick in your left hand. When you reach the shoulder you can again step in skis. Only the final slope is ahead of you and you overcome it in a few long turns, enjoying perhaps the most beautiful scenery in Julian Alps - the view on Triglav north wall.
Skiing Down Through Sovatna
Skiing down depends on conditions, of course. No option is easy, but we usually go over Sovatna valley. So the two options are:
1. Sovatna valley - exposition south,
2. The ascent route from Stenarska vratca towards N (very steep!).
Also for skiing over Sovatna valley we need to reach Stenarska vratca notch, 2295m, first. The upper part of Stenar is a pure joy, the short crossing can be tricky.
Below Stenarska vratca notch the slopes are again perfect for skiing. After some 4 hours of ascent these slopes should now be just soft enough (imagine April's firn). We soon reach Dovska vratca, 2180m, where the main passage from Vrata to Kriski podi plateau goes. There we turn left into Sovatna valley which will bring us down in Vrata.
The first slope of Sovatna valley is joyful again. We ski below Bovski Gamsovec (the western side of the valley). Then we reach the rocky step, above which we need to cross to the far left side of the valley. Here the steepest part of our ski tour awaits for us. The couloir is wide enough, but steep and quite long (but not too exposed). In summer the marked path here uses rocks on our right and is on a few places secured with steel pegs.
Coming down through the couloir the slopes become a bit less steep and wider. We choose the best passages and soon reach the upper frontier of dwarf-pines and trees. There we don't ski down in the forrest (where the shortest marked path goes), but ski just below the rocks of Bavski Gamsovec towards our right (SW), on a small plateau below Luknja pass (1758m), where on the altitude of 1450m the bivouac stands.
Over the plateau with bivouac we ski towards the slopes below Luknja pass and further on below the western part of Triglav's north wall. Allways crossing the broad, open slopes and occasionally taking joyful downhill sections. We keep on the open terrain below Triglav's north wall until we reach the bottom of Vrata valley, where Bistrica river appears. There, usually only one ski track is going through woods down to the hut.