Slavnik and the Karst Edge area
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The Istria penninsula is seperated from the European continent by a hilly barrier which features a very different nature of landscapes on both sides. The true Mediteranian landscape begins when you cross the Karst edge. There are two reasons to mention these mountains: (1) they are a paradise for hiking, especially in 'out of season' times, (2) their short walls make one of the finest polygons for technical climbing. While it is unlikely that in the future each hiking summit would get its own page, it would be very desirable if each technical climbing resort would get its own page. Here, I'm giving just the overview of the Italian and Slovenian part of the Karst edge and of Slavnik hills above it. The Croatian part is much unknown to me (but see also the Učka page and the Čičarija page).
|The southern part of Istria is geologically a part of Adria-Apulia tectonic unit. It is pushing towards the north-east (black arrow) and rotating in the counter clockwise direction. This process is resulting in a colision with the External Dinaric mountain belt (grey and striped). This process can be clearly observed in: (1) The mountain chains of Dinarides are very much bent. Učka mountain chain, for example is running today in the north-south direction, instead of the typical Dinaric northwest-southeast. (2) The other effect of thrusting Istria wedge towards the NE are many thrust faults on the border. The major one is the Kvarner thrust fault, separating big Adriatic islands from Istria. But along the line Trieste-Rijeka, in the zone, where Istria is underthrusting below Dinarides, there are several roughly parallel faults, where a few up to 30 meters high walls can be observed. Some of those on the NW part are shown on the images left. The major thrust fault is the so-called Palmanova fault (PN) - resulting in the Kraški rob (Karst Edge) in the area of Istria. SW of it also the Buzet and Sočerga faults are significant. The north-eastern mountain chains of Istria - like Slavnik and others further to the SE, are already the anticlinorium, geologically belonging to Dinarides. It is also worth of mentioning that both, Istria and Dinarides, are carbonate (limestone) platforms, but on the Istrian one there are thick layers of flysh. The border can be clearly observed at subduction areas.|
The Karst edge begins at the north-west with the Cliffs of Devin. This is the only place, where the white limestone walls are rising directly out of the Adriatic sea. Further to the east, the cliffs of the Karst edge are indented a few hundreds meters towards the inlands, allowing traffic to run by the coast.
Just above the big city of Trieste/Trst a special natural phenomenon is hiding - Val Rosandra / Glinščica is a beautiful valley with some low rock formations, useful for exercising technical climbing. There is, where Emilio Comici was exercising.
Close to the Socerb castle the Karst edge continues on the Slovenian territory. Not far away from the border, above the small village of Osp, there are two famous walls, where technical climbs of the highest quality can be experienced - Osp wall and Mišja peč.
Further towards the southeast, beyond the big, elegant bridge of the main Slovenian highway, the Karst edge continues with the walls above Črni Kal village. The hardest technical climbs can be done around the ruins of the ancient Venetian castle and more towards the southeast.
Going further south-eastwards the Karst edge falls down to Rižana valley in two bigger steps. Above the steep walls are rising over the Podpeč village and below there's a similar wall called Štrekljevica. Over both walls runs a secured, marked path. Štrekljevica would also be appropriate for hard technical climbing, but it is prohibited, because there are still a few rare birds nesting.
Still further down, the Karst edge is less and less appropriate for technical climbing, but it remains a nice hiking area. As I shall describe only its Italian and Slovenian part on this page, let me stop here.
Above the Karst edge rock steps there's another landscape. A mostly flat grassy plateau is stretching towards the hills of Slavnik and its surroundings. Here you can find a few remote villages, but further towards the southeast the landscape rises again and amongst the hills there you can find some remote places where the only Slovenian savannah stretches. In spring, around the Zalipnik valley some first class hiking goals could be enjoyed in the abundance of flora. Below the rock steps of Karst edge lie the fields and villages of the inner Istria. Limestone is being replaced with flysh, only a few limestone rock outposts can be found in various locations. Some of them will be shortly described here.