Mountaineering Village Zell-Sele
Hard of the Karawanks - Srce Karavank
About borders and how to overcome them…
Like a gapless wall – this is how the mountain range of the Karavanken looks like, which closes the Klagenfurt basin to the south. Only when taking a closer look you will recognise that the wall is more like a terraced fortress with some fore-mountains and side valleys hiding behind.
And that is exactly how it is, if you will leave behind the traditional gunsmith small town Ferlach – still today famous hunting rifles are produced there – and enter the forest valley branching off to the south. Soon the valley slopes get steep, then rough and interspersed with rocks. The road gets narrow and squeezes itself between the river stream rushing down between the rocks and a gloomy rock face. Finally, the road ascends in several turns – a last turn and you will find yourself in another world. Instead of the serious forestry, you will find a broad, high valley flooded with sunlight. The rocky Karavanken main ridge is very close now, but humbly steps back behind green meadow hills – almost like a super-dimensional garden fence, which tries to protect the small paradise. The parish village Zell snuggles to the southern valley side, as if it wants to require as less as possible of the precious agricultural surface – after all here we are already at 1,000 metres above sea level and – flat sloping meadows are rare in this area.
Some visitors may probably feel an indefinable feeling of strangeness. Certainly the unusual inscriptions on information plaques and buildings will contribute to it. “Gospodarski center” is written on a local farmhouse or “Ljudska šola” on the primary school. But how reasonable: the German translation is also right there.
This sensation of strangeness disappears immediately, if you enter in contact with the local people. They are open, hearty, hospitable – and of course also very proud of the Slovenian ethnic minority – almost all the inhabitants of the valley feel a sense of belonging. Only sometimes the light-heartedness and happiness gets a serious basic tone – when talking about the tragic and complicated history which stroke the valley in the first half of the 20th century. The place was a base of the anti-Nazi resistance movement and unfortunately also several spectacular arrests took place, which ended in several executed death sentences – events to which the author Peter Handke set a moving monument in his epic “Immer noch Sturm”.
Despite this tragic event or maybe precisely because of that, the small place is for quite some time an example for international understanding and the efforts in view of a peaceful life. A wonderful proof for it is a “letter concerning the optional brotherhood” from the year 1972 in which Zell and the Slovenian town Škofja Loka commit themselves to a tight cooperation in culture and sports. “With this optional brotherhood we want to enforce friendship and peace among the peoples”, it says.
But now let us advance to the heart of the Karavanken range. Past the picturesque farm Pajner you will hike on a winding gravel road to the Koschuta refuge/ Koča pod Košuto, which lies below the impressive north face of the Koschuta. Here you will have the possibility to access the road of the Alpine Convention .The challenging alpine round tour is the product of a wonderful cooperation between the alpine associations and the municipalities on both sides of the national border, which here runs exactly across the ridge line. It enables experienced mountaineers to manage the entire round course around the massif in two to three day stages.
Whom vertical lines attract, can reach the access to the steep tracks on the Koschutnik-Turm tower, the Lärchenturm tower or the Hochturm tower from the Koschutahaus or complete also different more difficult climbing tours.
And because when work is done you should recharge your batteries on the mountains, the secret doping substance of the region are the Kärntner Nudel (typical Carinthian dish) with the local recipe, which in the local inns represents a divine culinary delight.