Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Alpine ibexes of Jôf di Montasio

This time of year is great for hiking and mountain climbing here in the Alps. It takes quite some time for the snow to melt on higher peaks, which makes late summer days perfect for mountaineering. In this period sun is not so strong any more and weather is usually quite predictable.



Unfortunately in the past years I have been neglecting this very popular outdoor activity, but lately I have made it to the top of some quite impressive mountains in and near Slovenia. This time we hopped just across the border into Italy...



The first mountaineering challenge after a long while was Jôf di Montasio (Špik nad Policami or Montaž in Slovene), just across the Italian border. With 2,752 metres (9,029 ft) it is the second highest peak of the Julian Alps, surpassed only by Mount Triglav (the highest Slovenian mountain).
This is a guarantee for a nice view at the top. Although on the day of our visit visibility was not perfect, we were not complaining.



The definite highlight of this climb were numerous Alpine ibexes (Capra ibex) we saw on the way. They seemed quite used to mountaineers and let us get as close as a few metres. Females seemed to be the most curious.



If those ibexes alone are not a good enough reason for a visit, there are also other treats waiting for an unsuspecting visitor. Pastures below the mountain are full of Alpine Marmots (Marmota marmota). They were still asleep during our climb, but greeted us with loud whistles on the way down. Unfortunately they are quite a bit shyer compared to those ibexes.
In fact there are so many holes dug by these cute creatures all over the place that a careful step is highly recommended.



Near the starting point of the hike (Pecol) there is also a cottage where one can refresh after returning from the top. Amongst other things they offer a wast selection of dairy products. Most of the cheeses sold in the shop are made right there, but they also offer a variety of products from other nearby producers. Go check it out - they will be happy to give you a taste before you buy anything.



Despite everything I mentioned above, climbing Montaž is not for everyone. There is an impressive via ferrata waiting in the steep side of the mountain, the highlight of which is a 60 metres high Pipan's ladder. If you do not deal with heights all that well, this might not be a perfect choice for you.


Although I did not feel a need for using a harness it can come in handy - some of the sections are quite drafty. However, due to falling rocks, use of a helmet is a must. The rocks are very friable and since the side of the mountain is practically vertical in some sections, it is very easy to send an unintentional surprise towards the bottom. Even if there are no climbers above you, there are many ibexes that can also send an avalanche of rocks your way.



From a parking lot to the top there is about 3 hours of a relatively slow climb. The first half of it is a hike up to the base of the mountain side (a section of pastures is followed by a large scree). The second half is climbing the via ferrata section and then a short walk across the ridge to the metal cross set on the top of Jôf di Montasio.


If you enjoyed the photo material in this post, you should probably also check out another photos-only post from the top of Montaž.


Clicking on any one of above photos will reveal them all in a much more flattering resolution.

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