Dreznica - Kal Karitnica summit(u)

This unnamed summit in the Julian alps of Slovenia is a straight forward steep climb on the south side, and then becomes a tough portage reaching the actual summit and down the north side. In spite of these difficulties it has been written up as a mountain biking route in other sources. During my traversal of the route I met a group of 4 bikers from Suedtirol, who were following printed directions. Had I not met them, I would have turned back at the first summit because of confusion about the route. The route starts in the tourist town of Kobarid, which has a natural, new excitement about it, that you can't find in the more established resorts to the west. Mountain bikers, paragliders an kayakers seem to have found a new home here in the Julian alps.
01.(00.0km,258m) START-END SOUTH: bridge crossing river, west of Kobarid
02.(04.8km,541m) Drezinca, route continues north and west
03.(06.3km,577m) profile continues on easily missed turnoff to right before Drezniske Ravne towards many switchbacks
04.(13.0km,1198m) turnoff to Alm building on right, profile continue straight
05.(14.6km,1270m)  intermediate summit past National Park building
06.(15.0km,1217) route turns off onto single track hiking trail right before another alm building. Profile between here and Kal Karitnica is an approximation and contains errors.
07.(km18.1,1305m) TOP: Dreznica - Kal Karitnica summit(u) 1217m approximate.
08.(22.1km,454m) START-END NORTH ALTERNATE: route crosses river Koritnica on hanging bridge and joins paved road downvalley
09.(24.1km,437m) paved road crosses to west side of river Koritnica
10.(26.2km,457m) START-END NORTH: turnoff outside of Bovec to right.

Approaches

From South. From Kobarid you head out of town direction Bovec. Then take a left, following sings for Dreznica, immediately crossing a bridge that serves as the first of many scenic foregrounds for today's first objective. Roads branch off on both sides upstream towards campgrounds, and a nice road climb leads downstream on the other side, to the Vrsno summit(u). But for this summit you stay left towards the impressive looking Krn peak. The paved road climbs steeply and a second scenic foreground soon captures attention, the church in Dreznica. At the junction in town a homemade painted illustrated map serves to clarify the next part of the climb. The general idea is pretty obvious. You climb an unseen saddle between the peak Krn and the steep somewhat lower ridge in front of it. A small paved road traverses over to Drezniske Ravne. However before entering towns, a also paved path branches off to the right. Missing this turnoff is almost inevitable. But little time is lost, because the alternative soon soon ends, after passing the three or four buildings of Drezniske Ravne, then climbing a little ways towards a garden house of sorts.

Continuing on the right path the road swichtbacks a couple of times to a parking lot. From here the route continues as a narrow concrete path. Innumerable switches continue, or at least it seems that way, the road surface changing to rough rock, except for the steepest parts where the concrete surface returns. Even during exceptionally good weather the steep slopes of Krn often start to develop updraft clouds around it. The saddle seems to draw closer as measured by how high up on Krn we are. At one point it looks like the saddle can't be far, but the path traverses west and starts a new set of switchbacks. Finally the road emerges on a high alpine meadow and enters a farm type gate with a sign stating that you are now entering a national park, also enumerating all the things that are not allowed there. Amongst these things is car washing, cars  and motor cycles. In spite of this all of these (except for car washing) are common encounters on the other side of the gate. During the summer there are also cows up here, together with the alm (cow herding) buildings that go along with the support. After the long, high meadow the road enters the forest again, still climbing gently. Near what seems like the summit at 1259 meters, but is really only a first high point, are remnants of WW1 fortifications, together with a path that can be used to explore them. A short informational tablet explains that the Italians captured the peak Krn, and beat off the defending Austro Hungarian empire. A dirt road branches off to the left, climbing further and leading to more WW1 fortifications. Maps do not show it continuing far beyond that. At least one other detailed atlas of the alps shows a small road descending from this point to Cezsoca. In reality this road does not exist. The three dirt roads branching off near this point all dead end in the forest high up on the mountain. I tried two of them and for the third I took the word of a locally available topo map.

At this point the route gets tricky. The route descends to more cow herding support buildings (Alm). Right before and past these buildings dirt roads branch off to the left, looking like feasible descends. However, as mentioned they dead end in the forest high up on the mountain. Instead a hiking trail branches off to the right, immediately after the alm buildings. There is a small sign pointing to Kal Karitniza, but you have to look closely to see it. For the junctions during the following portage it is useful to keep in eye and mind the summit, which is the obvious apr. 100ft higher saddle to the right. This is the true summit located at 1305 meters. The saddle makes a good foreground for the higher peaks behind it from the vantage point of the trail junction. The hiking trail traverses along the hillside, descending only slowly and intermittently, its side dropping off very steeply onto a forested slope. If somebody is looking for a technical single track, this may be it. As for me, after a fairly arduous portage, the track reaches a low point. Here is the first of several mountain huts, which are however abandoned, or at least give that appearance. The trail is now just a faint track through deep forest grass. The trail splits at the hut. Going left through the grass leads to a sign stating Cezsoca, which is valley town slightly west of Kal Karitnica. Instead the description continues around the right side of the hut, which is also where the black-red hiking route designation can be seen a little past the hut. The second part of the portage is all uphill, heading straight or slightly west of the saddle. Just below the saddle is another abandoned hut, and the trail seems to end. However it continues on the back side of the hut, actually becoming more worn once you follow it a little upslope and to the left. Right before the summit a trail branches off to the left also down hill. But this is not the way down. At the summit stands one of those official hunting tree houses or seats.


From North. (described downwards). The trail continues along the saddle, finally meeting another sign pointing the way to Kal Karitnica. After a long barely rideable descend, stone walls from a WW1 monument come into sight below. The trail branches here. Ambiguous signs pointing to the monument and Kal Karitnica can be interpreted to point in either direction. I took the left steeper downhill branch which lead me to the west side of the clearing. The cross of the WW1 monument remained a few hundred yards to the right. The trail continues to descend with a few ridable stretches, eventually reaching another vandalized and abandoned mountain house, this one much larger and elaborate than the small previous huts. More steep and rough descending with a few more ridable stretches eventually lead to a rough stone road along the valley. I took the downhill option at this junction. Eventually reaching the river a small suspension bridge can be used to cross over and portage the bike up to the asphalt road. You can also continue on the original side of the river in either direction on the rough road. A topographical low point is reached on the road after descending past Bovic, which is also the endpoint of the elevation profile.

 

Dayride:
Dreznica - Kal Karitnica s(u): Kobarid area > Dreznica > Dreznica - Kal Karitnica s(u) > descending as described to Kal Karitnica > returing on pavement to Kobarid: 41 miles with 5500ft of climbing in 6 hours (VDO MC1.0: m3:9.6.13). 
Notes: includes an addtional 6km approach to Kobarid; does not include portaged sections.

The next day of this Extended Tour, starting from the same starting point, Kobarid area, is on page:
Vrsic Pass


Dreznica - Kal Karitnica summit(u)

Highest Point:
1305m
Eastern Approach:  climb distance
drop
from bridge west of Kobarid (258m)
1047m
18.1km
 
from Dreznica (541m)
764m
13.3km
 
Western Approach: estimates only


 
from outside of Bovec (457m)
848m
8.1km
~350m
from hanging pedestrian bridge over river Koritnica (437m)
868m
4km
~300m


 

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