Some get their thrills on the ground, others as they cling to the top of a frozen waterfall. If you fall into the latter category, we suggest you make south-eastern Europe your base for the endurance test to end all endurance tests: an adventure-fuelled trip up some of Slovenia's most heart-stopping ice-climbing trails.
A challenge taken on by only the most daring, ice climbing breaks the boundaries of winter sports as we know them. Forget everything you've ever learned on-piste: you'll require a high-octane cocktail of grit, resilience and strength - both mental and physical - for this spectacular off-grid quest.
With ice pick, helmet and a good dose of courage at the ready, you might be wondering what else you'll want to bring (or, more to the point, what will withstand the extreme conditions and wild terrains you'll be immersed in) on your trip. Being one step ahead, we're flagging TAG Heuer's timelessly sleek Aquaracer luxury tool watch as the ideal piece of kit to bring along for this epic winter journey.
Ever the ally to adventure, this timepiece is as strong as it is smart. As you push off from the cliff edge, you won't need to worry about any knocks against the unforgiving ice wall in front of you - the Aquaracer's double-safety clasp and heavy-duty casing will keep the watch strapped firmly to your wrist and in perfect condition, from the ground to the clouds. All you'll have to do is focus on what's ahead.
From towering frozen waterfalls to vast, ice-covered rock faces, our six-day itinerary sees us crossing Slovenia's glittering peaks in search of the country's most intoxicating summits and daring drops, refuelling at locavore eateries and bedding down in traditional Slovenian chalets along the way. Think you've got what it takes to overcome the elements? Let's go.
Break the ice: our ultimate Slovenian ice-climbing itinerary
Days 1-2: Kranjska Gora
Head out from Ljubljana and make a beeline upcountry towards the Tamar Valley, an hour's drive north-east of the capital. Ease yourself in (read: rev yourself up) in Kranjska Gora, a pocket-sized alpine resort within easy reach of some of the country's most majestic mountains and glaciers. Once you've unpacked at Jasna Chalet Resort - your nest for the next two nights - take a moment to breathe in the revitalising pine-scented mountain air, then have a quick scan outside for chamois, deer and rabbits: this is prime wildlife-spotting country.
For your first climb, you'll want to make tracks to Planica, a mountain paradise famous for its record-breaking ski jump (the biggest of its kind when it was built, in 1936). From here, it's an invigorating hour's walk to Mountain Home Tamar, where we suggest you fuel up on štruklji - a traditional Slovenian dish of dough with various hearty fillings - before the final 15-minute hike up to the peak's glorious waterfalls. Look out for Candle waterfall, so-named for the beautiful 10m hollow ice candle perched at its summit. Harness up, grab your crampons and get your game face on: the frozen chute you're about to scale requires the upmost attention to detail - just like the features of your trusty Aquaracer. This is winter sport, supercharged.
Days 3-4: Bled
This next part of the trip takes you to Bled, where you'll be setting up camp at luxe lakeside bolthole Grand Hotel Toplice, whose white-marble thermal pool and unspoilt views make it an idyllic spot for a stay. You'll likely have seen pictures of this postcard-pretty town's lake and church-topped island, which is well worth a visit if you can drag yourself away from the ice.
Hop in a traditional flat-bottom pletna boat to cross the glassy lake to the Church of the Mother of God, or hire a rowing boat and make your own way across the water to the landmark, which looks like something out of a fairytale. Insider tip: head to this little island at dawn for quiet, unadulterated views of the mirror-still lake at sunrise.
For guaranteed ice during the winter months, we recommend the 200m-long narrow valley of Mlačca, at Mojstrana, for your next ascent. High on the bucket list of any serious ice climber, this glacial gorge is where the most ambitious alpinists go to train. Set your sights on one of three waterfalls for a 40m-high climb, then decompress at Vila Bled's in-house restaurant for a night of well-deserved indulgence.
Days 5-6: Julian Alps
The final stop on your heart-racing itinerary, the Lucifer Waterfall is as epic as it gets, and not for the faint-hearted. For this stretch of the trip, you'll want to check into the Triangel Boutique Hotel, where you can prep by sleeping soundly swaddled in the comforting embrace of the traditional chalet's pine-clad walls, before striking out on your most extreme venture yet.
As thrilling as its name suggests, this was the first frozen waterfall to ever be climbed in Slovenia, so you'll be scaling a historic trail as you ascend towards the summit. As you emerge from the shadows of the ravine, take a moment to glance down at your trusted TAG Heuer timepiece. The hour and minute hands that illuminated your climb through the shadows - thanks to the watch's Super-LumiNova® technology - will have returned to their jet-black colour in the light, ready for the next leg of your climb. By the end of which you will truly believe in the unbelievable.
Ready to hit the ice? The TAG Heuer Aquaracer is a next-generation luxury tool watch for ultimate explorers. Find your precise fit here.