It is several years, perhaps half a decade ago, since I last wrote about the proposed Bohinj 2864 ski centre, an ambitious project to not only reactivate the redundant Kobla ‘resort’ above Bohinjska Bistrica, but to develop it into a Tirol-type winter sports’ destination that are ten-a-penny in neighbouring Austria.

Slovenia has never sought to exploit its mountainscape in the same way that has to me at least become tedious and depressing in equal measure within its fellow European alpine nations. Its tourism sector was until secession undoubtedly hindered by years of Communist-lite rule which firmly held the reins of development in check, an ideology that would make private investment in then Yugoslav assets completely out of the question.

This feeling of lagging behind, of perhaps in this sense of being three decades behind Austria has actually benefited Slovenia’s alpine regions which have predominantly and comparatively been left alone, with only modest developments that amount to a clutch of mainly low-altitude ski centres. Agriculture has maintained greater links with Slovenian communities than in its counterparts, where many farmers have become wealthy from giving over land to a sea of pylons, artificial snow-making equipment, and cableways.

The proximity of Kobla to Lake Bohinj would normal sound the alarm bells that such a proposal could be mooted only a few miles from the Triglav National Park’s(TNP) central, most protected and jealously guarded core. The area around Bohinjska Bistrica, whilst characterized by stunning back drops, dense forests, and prime agricultural land is not actually within the TNP and subject to its strict rules on development, but any development would be conditional on the adherence to stringent environmental protocols.

It is though one thing advocating the reactivation of Kobla as a ski facility, but quite another envisioning a fundamental redevelopment of the immediate mountainscape to accommodate something that could impinge upon aesthetic and environmental sensibilities, and be a serious drain on a finite resource in the production of the necessary artificial snow to give the proposal any chance of viability. Restarting Kobla and its raft of lifts would in effect be working within the existing footprint of the original infrastructure, although the wider development allied to the original or reinterpreted vision for 2864 Bohinj – the number spuriously connects the project with the altitude of Slovenia’s highest peak Mount Triglav – would be a game changer of local and national significance.

Topping out at 1,480 metres Kobla is though at an altitudinal disadvantage. Natural snow is by no means certain on the sunny side of the Alps, where the influence of the Adriatic can precipitate too much or barely any at all unless at Bovec-Kanin and Vogel, Slovenia’s highest ski areas. Even these can be completely bereft of what is often, but no longer guaranteed, still in relative abundance at similar altitudes in Austria.

My personal perspective on any proposal to reboot Kobla would amount to something more cautious and modest, with an assurance that its cableways will be open to hikers and climbers during the warmer months. There is undoubtedly an opportunity to bookend the ridge walk from Vogel to Bohinjska Bistrica with the use of lifts, and integrated public transport between both valley stations. To hang the project’s hat on a purely wintertime offering would be a mistake, especially if it to heavily rely upon the production of artificial snow.

Slovenia has never been a destination which I would ever have said was ripe for exploitation, but over the years there have been many missed opportunities to make the most of what it has without detrimentally impacting on the very reasons it is so popular in the first place. A classic example of this is the failure to use Maribor’s Edvard Rusjan Airport for those visiting the country’s second city – it has outstanding all year round potential as a city break destination – and to receive winter sports’ fans to visit the area’s Pohorje range both as spectators for the annual Golden Fox FIS ski race and to use the slopes themselves has betrayed the lack of a joined up approach in the tourism sector, and has assisted in bringing the airport’s very existence into question. There are also ample opportunities to bring guests in to the Maribor region to enjoy its many thermal spa complexes, a genre of holiday popular with those from the former Soviet bloc.

If it is necessary to further develop winter tourism in the Bohinj region, putting all the proverbial eggs in the winter sports’ basket must be guarded against. Climate Change is altering the rules of engagement for the industries that are weather-dependent, of which winter sports is one of the main protagonists. It should also be remembered that the use of artificial snow in the absence of the real thing is impossible when temperatures are simply too high for it to be produced.

When it is considered that the highest point of Kobla’s ski capability is over 1,000 feet lower than that at Vogel just a few miles distant, where is the compelling case for a more expansive development that could struggle to receive any snow – natural or otherwise?

Source material and further information:

RTVSLO: http://www.rtvslo.si/lokalne-novice/projekt-je-ziv-in-se-pocasi-premika-naprej/582660

STA Press Agency: https://krog.sta.si/2911061/vlada-izdala-uredbo-o-koncesiji-za-ozivitev-smucisca-na-kobli

Ski Resort: http://www.skiresort.info/ski-resort/kobla-bohinj/