Mountain safety and rescue in Slovenia

by David Robertson ~ 01-Oct-2009 ~ updated 03-Dec-2009

Mountain Safety

Snow in early September, Julian Alps

Snow in early September, Julian Alps

The mountain environment is a place of grandeur, wonder and excitement.  It is also a place of danger and a bit of bad luck such as a simple stumble can easily turn into a life-threatening situation.  If you are prepared, have the right equipment and know how to use it, you can minimise the risks and stay safe.

Be ready, don’t become a statistic!

  • wear suitable clothing that is appropriate for the weather, the season and the altitude at which you are walking, plus take an extra layer for emergencies.
  • make sure that you you have sufficient time to complete your route and all members of your party are fit enough.
  • check the weather forecast before you go.
  • whenever possible leave details of your route and estimated time of return (complete an entry in the hut and summit visitor books giving details of where you came from and where you are going – Mountain Rescue teams can use this information).
  • carry a map and compass and know how to use them!
  • carry a torch (plus spare batteries) and a whistle.  Learn the Alpine Distress Signal – give six signals (whistle blasts, flashes) within a minute, then pause for a minute, repeating this until rescue arrives or you receive a response.  The recognised response to a distress call is three signals per minute.
  • Take care!

    Take care!

  • carry a bivy bag.
  • carry First-Aid.
  • know the Emergency Telephone Number – it is 112.  Mobile reception in the Julian Alps is surprisingly good, but do not rely on it.  Fully charge your phone’s battery before you go and keep your phone switched off until you need it to preserve the charge.
  • take a pencil and paper for writing emergency messages.
  • if the weather turns bad be prepared to turn back.  In case of thunderstorms and lightning head for the nearest hut, or at least descend from summits and exposed ridges.
  • use suncream, lip salve and sunglasses to protect yourself from strong UV rays.
  • take plenty of water (do not rely on finding any) and food.
  • consider wearing a climbing helmet on some routes.  Rock fall is common and walkers/climbers above you may dislodge stones.

Our clothing and walking equipment page lists some necessary items and suggests some useful bits of kit suitable for walking in the mountains of Slovenia.

Mountain summit visitors book box

Mountain summit visitors book box

Signing the summit book

Signing the summit book


Mountain Rescue in Slovenia

Mountain rescue in Slovenia is organised by the voluntary Mountain Rescue Association of Slovenia (GRZS), with 17 sub-divisions or bases spread throughout Slovenia.

The GRZS “will try to rescue anybody free of charge, with or without insurance”. The GRZS also state “Anybody with the basic health insurance is entitled to receive helicopter rescue service in case of an injury or sickness for free”. (Both quoted from this GRZS publication).  Thankfully, we have not had to put that to the test!

What to do in case of injury or medical emergency

  • Do Not Panic! Keep calm and reassure the casualty.
  • Call 112 and provide as much information as possible.  Give an accurate description of your location and, if possible, your GPS co-ordinates.
  • Try to make yourself visible with bright clothing/bivy bag.
  • Insulate the casualty from the ground and keep as warm as possible.  Make sure other members of your partly are keeping warm too.

Helicopter Mountain Rescue

  • The recognised ground signal to helicopter crews is to stand with your back to the wind and hold your arms out in a Y-shape.
  • If you do not require the help of the helicopter, stand with one arm pointing up and the other pointing down.
  • Do not wave your arms about and do not shine a torch at the helicopter at night (the pilot wears night-glasses and will be dazzled).
  • Do not approach the helicopter until instructed to do so by the crew.
Self-belaying on Triglav, Slovenia

Self-belaying on Triglav, Slovenia

Please leave a comment below if you have some up to date information that you think might be useful or any suggestions to improve Slovenia-walking.


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