Almost one million people visit Slovenia's mountains each year, which can give people a false sense of security. The most common causes of accidents are due to lack of physical fitness, being mentally unprepared, not having adequate equipment, or lacking the skill and knowledge necessary for technical climbs.
Slovenians take precautions very seriously. Despite from having some of the best climbers in the world, their best climbers are very humble and careful before heading off into the mountains. If the conditions aren't safe, they know the mountain will be there tomorrow and there's always going to be another day.
Following guidelines is important, but before heading off alone be very careful to do your research and read about your routes and options, along with asking locals about the local weather patterns.
Understand the weather
Understanding the weather in the Slovenian Alps (thunderstorms in the summer, for example) and the terrain you are traveling through (often over limestone rock which gets very slippery wet) is crucial to planning a safe adventure. Be aware of the change in temperatures. You could have a beautiful summer day down in the valley and then get hit by winter conditions on the mountain, so be sure to have the right equipment. Always look out for growing cloud formations, storm clouds, and change in weather or temperature.
For more technical routes, you might need to use Via Ferrata or ropes. If you are choosing technical trails, make sure you have an easy access down from the mountain in case you run out of time. Also, ensure you have all the right equipment given the terrain you are going into. Hiking boots, hats, gloves, clothing layers, compass, map, a good backpack, torch, first aid kit, protective foil, etc.
Hiring a local guide
To be able to relax and enjoy hiking and climbing in the Slovenian Alps, consider hiring a local certified guide. They have very high level of training and will be able to adjust your itinerary to provide the best experience while on the trail. There are different levels of guides in Slovenia like in the Alps: IFMGA guides being the highest guide certificate there is. You can also find basic hiking guides which are good for normal hiking routes.
Other important safety precautions
- Start your trek early in the morning to avoid descending in the dark (especially during winter)
- Always have a plan B!
- Understand the trails and ensure you know how to navigate with a map
- Let your family or people you trust know about the duration of your hike and what to do if you are not back at an agreed time
- Put your name in register books at mountain huts and peaks
- Calculate your pace based on the slowest person in the group
- Make sure you bring everything that you brought up to the mountain back down with you
- If you end up having any serious medical issues in the mountains, call 112 and you will be put through to Search & Rescue
- If you find yourself in a danger, save your strength and find shelter