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Slovenia: Vršič mountain pass

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Vršič mountain pass | Slovenia | Europe

[Visited: August 2013]

We had escaped the tourist folly of Bled, in favour of spending more time in the far west of Slovenia. After a nice ice cream in Kranjska Gora, we started driving up the Vršič, and missed the Jasna lake just a few km outside the village. We turned around, and walked around the blue-green lake. We were happy we had turned: the rugged, highest mountains of the country looming above the glacial lake made for some really good views. We found the statue of Zlatorog, the golden-horned chamois, a mythical figure related to the Triglav region, on the northern shore of the small lake. We dipped into the icy water; a perfect way to refresh. We resumed our climb of the pass, working our way up the numbered hairpin bends.

Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Triglav range, at 2864m the highest summit of Slovenia, seen from the northern side of Vršič pass

After a few more kilometres, we reached the Russian Chapel, erected in memory of the Russian prisoners of war who perished here under an avalanche, while constructing the very road we were travelling on. A typical Russian-orthodox shaped chapel with two miniature towers, and several graves; also Austrians and others who died here, are interred at this spot. The road climbs fast; each bend has a sign not only displaying the number of the curve, but also the altitude. At one point, we reached a particularly good place to watch Triglav, at 2864m the highest summit of Slovenia. The road then took us in a different direction, and when we reached the Vršič pass at 1611m, it was already covered in shadow; the sun was retreating behind the western mountain range of the Julian Alps.

Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Ice-cold glacial lake just outside Kransjka Gora, on the way up to Vršič pass

We went for a short hike, and I ended up scrambling to the top of a ridge from where I had an unobstructed view of the steep, bare mountains around me. The ones on the east were still bathing in sunlight, but the shade was creeping up fast there, too. I could now look straight into the valley ahead of us: the Soča valley. Now looking lovely, this area had seen serious fighting in the First World War; it was cruel to think that many young men had lost their lives in this rugged terrain with its spectacular views. Driving down the road, we reached the statue of Julius Kugy, an Italian botanist and mountaineer who had written about the beauty of the nature of the Julian Alps. We did not need his writings to see that we were surrounded by spectacular mountain landscape.

Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): View of Soča valley from the top of Vršič mountain pass
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Looking towards the mountains where Vršič pass is located
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Julian Alps towering above Jasna Lake, just south of Kransjka Gora
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Zlatorog immortalized in a statue on the shore of Jasna Lake
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Russian Chapel commemorating the hundreds prisoners of war who died in an avalanche here
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): One of the numbered 48 hairpin bends on Vršič mountain pass
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Mountain range right at the top of Vršič mountain pass
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): Julius Kugy, Italian botanist, looking into Soča valley
Picture of Vršič mountain pass (Slovenia): The highest road of Slovenia: Vršič pass in the Julian Alps

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