Via ferratas increasingly popular in Slovenia
Kranjska Gora, 12 August - Via ferratas, climbing routes protected with steel cables, have become increasingly common in the Slovenian mountains and they are visited by many climbers. There are currently eight official via ferratas in the country, with one of them opening earlier this week in the Upper Sava Valley.
In July last year, two via ferratas with steel cables, ladders and metal rungs opened in Mojstrana on the Grančišče hill.
"Our experience with the first two routes are extremely good and have exceeded all expectations," the head of the local tourist association, Matjaž Podlipnik, said a year after the opening.
The association recorded more than 5,000 visitors last season and expects the number to go up by a third this year.
Since the via ferratas in Mojstrana were received so well, another such route was build in Gozd Martuljek, the head of the Kranjska Gora tourist office, Blaž Veber said at this week's opening.
Podlipnik is convinced that the via ferratas are a bonus in the offering of the region and that they attract more visitors to the Mojstrana mountaineering museum, which rents out climbing equipment. Because of the via ferratas, the museum now also offers bicycles for rent, he said.
"I think that's the future and I hope we'll get more via ferratas in the coming years," Podlipnik said.
Veber said there were three or four potential locations, but that the protected routes would be built gradually. "We want every via ferrata to first become well known and visited by enough people, so that it serves its purpose."
"There are eight official via ferratas in Slovenia, one recently opened in the Bovec area. Kranjska Gora is leading in the field for the time being," Veber said.
Podlipnik said via ferratas had come to Slovenia from Italy's South Tyrol and Tyrol, where decades ago every mountain village had a via ferrata.
Italians invented via ferratas in World War I to be able to climb peaks and have oversight over valleys, he noted.
According to the head of the Gozd Martuljek mountaineering association, Klemen Robič, via ferratas should be used only by experienced and well equipped climbers. Those who do not meet these conditions, should hire a mountain guide, he suggests.