Prime Minister Janša attends event celebrating 100 years of Skala Mountaineering Club in Slovenia

Other speakers at the event included Skala President Anton Žunter and Slovenian Alpine Association President Jože Rovan. At the event, the Avgust Delavec Institution awarded a gold plaque to the President of the Republic of Slovenia Janez Janša, Franc Sevšek and Gregor Gomišček, and a silver plaque was awarded to the Skala Mountaineering Club – Mountaineering Club Association. The plaques were presented by the chairman of the board of directors of the institution Avgust Delavec, Miro Eržen. The event was hosted by Slovenian actor Pavle Ravnohrib and included performances by theater actor Tone Kuntner, Octet Žetev, Deseti brat Quartet, Mijav Trio, opera soloist Matej Vovk and the Group youth folklore KUD Oton Župančič Sora. A prayer for the members of the Skala club was led by the deputy chief of military chaplains, Father Milan Pregelj.

Below is the opening speech delivered by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Janša, at the event celebrating 100 years of the Skala Mountaineering Club in Slovenia:

Friends who are members of the Club,

Let me first congratulate everyone for our honorable and centenary efforts dedicated to Slovenian mountaineering, mountaineering, skiing, ski jumping, tobogganing, photography, cinema, luge. writing, music and painting – in short, honorable efforts for the advancement of the Slovenian nation. , culture and homeland.

If a hundred years is not a very long time for an organization, it is a testament to its maturity, which is the result of hard work based on values ​​that will ring true for years to come.

Today, it is a great honor for me to address you on the occasion of our great anniversary.

I myself began to learn more about the pre-WWII Skala, more or less where it all happened. Climbing the first routes attempted by the Skala Mountaineering Club. For example, the pik Direct Route, one of the most difficult routes in the Alps in 1926. This first climbing team was led by Skala member Mira Marko Debelak. Even today – as those of you who have climbed it in recent years know – this route is considered not only beautiful, but also demanding. And the Čop pillar, which was climbed by member Skala Joža Čop with Pavla Jesih at the end of WWII. By reading the descriptions of the roads of Skala, repeating them and reading the biographies of the first ascents, we learned the little-known history of Skala.

I am particularly happy that the organizers have chosen this location for today’s event. As we have heard, the Skala Trail Club was established at the Novi svet pub, which was on the site of today’s Lev hotel which hosts this event. On Candlemas Day 1921, a handful of mountaineering enthusiasts gathered in the Prešeren room of the pub in question and created the Skala Trail Club. At the time, the name of the club referred to mountain trails and, as things tended to change quite quickly around this time, the Skala Trail Club was renamed Skala Alpine Club just before the outbreak of WWII.

The Skala Mountaineering Club was founded as a democratic and patriotic organization of the great minds of the time. Considering its small membership, Skala was somewhat elitist. Members were accepted on the basis of their accomplishments, not their social class, profession, age, political or religious beliefs. Today it would be called a meritocracy.

The mountaineering club was founded at a rather special time. The Great War, the First World War, was over, leaving behind significant material destruction and, above all, a deep psychological imprint. Borders have changed, new countries have been formed. After the war, the Slovenian Alpine Society took over dilapidated mountain huts and many crumbling and abandoned trails. It is therefore understandable that their main objective was to rebuild mountain infrastructures. But there was also a strong tendency almost everywhere in the alpine world at this time, especially among young climbers, to experience the mountain differently.

Young people are no longer content to walk on beaten and marked paths, nor are they content to eat only in mountain huts. They wanted to climb rock faces, go to the mountains not only in summer but also in winter – which was considered a daring adventure – with skis and ice climbing gear. This led to the formation of very diverse groups who went to the mountains together, exchanged mountaineering experiences, memories and literature. From these groups a formal organization – Skala Mountaineering Club – was formed. The members of the Skala club decided to continue the work of Kugy, Tuma and also the group of student mountaineers from Dren. In addition to mountaineering, they were also interested in skiing, photography, art, literature and all mountain and nature related activities. Of course, they haven’t forgotten about the social side of life either, which makes their biographies an interesting read.

With Skala, the Slovenes have joined on an equal footing with the progressive European work taking place in the mountains. In less than two decades of the club’s existence, its climbers have climbed many prime routes in Slovenia and elsewhere in the Alps, published books, wrote articles for magazines and even produced the first Slovenian feature film “In the Kingdom of Golden Horn “(” V kraljestvu Zlatoroga “). They trained the younger generations in the art of mountaineering, skiing and photography, and nurtured their relationship with nature and their homeland. Skala has thus combined the four fundamental areas of human activity: work, play, sport and art, and transmitted it to the younger generations, while making their work known to the general public.

This very positive image has, of course, another, more negative side. As sometimes happens in Slovenia, in the face of a new wave there was also strong opposition to the activities of club members. Controversy and great polarization have emerged. The Slovenian Alpine Society was doing a really great and important job at that time to rebuild the infrastructure in the mountains, but it didn’t have much appreciation for the younger generation, at least not at first. Unfortunately, they did not want to accept a different view of mountaineering. Why climb rocks when there are beautiful, well protected paths to the top? Why would you go to the mountains in unsuitable conditions, in snow, ice and bad weather? And why spend the night in makeshift shelters and bivouacs when there are comfortable mountain huts available? At the time, Skala members were known as “neck cutters” and “suicidal”. There were even ideas for blowing up the Turnc pod Grmado climbing wall and preventing young people from practicing their climbing techniques there. Skala members, on the other hand, accused the traditional highlanders of only cultivating “inn tourism” in the mountains.

These disagreements were resolved over time and the two organizations, the Skala Mountaineering Club and the Slovenian Alpine Society began to work more closely together. This cooperation would probably have developed into something more, but World War II broke out. After the Italian occupation of Ljubljana, an order came that the Skala Mountaineering Club should join the Italian Alpine Club. Faced with this situation, the members of the Skala club have shown the highest degree of patriotism and wisdom. They decided that instead of joining the occupier’s company, they would all leave Skala and thus dissolve the club.

After World War II, the new authorities had little understanding for any type of individual activity. A worker should only engage in sports activities collectively. At first the Slovenian Alpine Society was also dissolved, but later the Alpine Association of Yugoslavia with its sub-associations created in each Yugoslav Republic was excluded only from the Sports Federation of Yugoslavia. Fortunately, the mountaineering culture in Slovenia was already sufficiently ingrained that the Slovenian Alpine Association, gradually and within the limits of the possibilities offered, also formally adopted many of the values ​​of the pre-war Slovenian Alpine Society and the Skala Mountaineering Club. Ideas for reviving Skala had been around since the club’s disbandment, but under the circumstances of the time, individuals who still acted in accordance with Skala’s values ​​could not implement them. It was only within the independent and sovereign state of Slovenia, i.e. in 1995, that the Dr Henrik Tuma Mountaineering Club was founded and, two years later, Skala was also established. as an association of mountaineering clubs.

I am very happy to have been one of the co-initiators of this action. When I climbed the main road in the Trenta mountains with Tone Jeglič and Bojan Pograjc, the idea started to emerge that on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Skala club in 1996, the first thing we could do was to rebuild the Skala cross on Škrlatica, erected in memory of all those who lost their lives in the mountains. Thus, the modern Skala club was in fact born again as an association of mountaineering clubs, which has been operating successfully for 25 years and as such represents a longer period of existence than the Skala Trail Club. My sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to this.

There were also disagreements and misunderstandings during the founding of the modern Skala. We were criticized for returning the monument to Škrlatica in the form of a cross and of course for competing with the Alpine Association of Slovenia. But time did its job, and both criticisms turned out to be unwarranted. Membership of the Skala club is open to all, and the work of the societies and the association is of course inclusive. Skala and other mountaineering and mountain organizations are working together to find synergies in mountaineering projects, some of which have already been listed, ranging from nature conservation to mountain safety and the like.

Dear Skala Club members,

On this venerable anniversary, the club’s centenary, I not only wish to congratulate you on your accomplishments, but I also hope that the motto of the Skala Mountaineering Club will continue to apply for the next hundred years as well: “Solid as a rock is the Slovenian nation and steadfast as a rock is our way. “We have carved the motto in limestone and granite, in ice and snow, in clouds and in the sky. And God protect him as he protects our homeland. Skala, thank you and good luck! “


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