First Free Ascent of Slovenia’s ‘Heathen Maiden’

In August, Slovenian Luka Lindic made the first free ascent of an iconic wall on 2,547m Mount Prisojnik in his country’s Julian Alps.

In the inner corner of the left eye on the photo you can spot the climber.

Photo: Marko Prezelj


Lindic named his new route Nevidna preobrazba (“Invisible Transformation”). The difficult 150m line runs left of an already existing route.

Known locally as Ajdovska deklica (“Heathen Maiden”), the cliff seems to show the face of a girl. It has great importance in Slovenian culture.

According to legend, a nymph prophesied that a certain boy would kill Goldenhorn, a magical chamois. When her nymph sisters heard this, they considered the prophecy sacrilege. As a punishment, they turned her into stone.

Luka Lindic climbing on the wall.

Luka Lindic on the wall. Photo: Marko Prezelj


The route

Three of the greatest Slovenian climbers, Janez Jeglic, Francek Knez, and recent Piolet d’Or-winner Silvo Karo first climbed the formation on August 12, 1984. Gregor Kornik and Tomo Virk repeated their work on February 20, 1989.

But no one had freed their route. “The climbing community somehow considers it more of a place for aid climbing,” says Lindic. There has been almost no climbing of any kind on the wall in recent years.

The previous route on Ajdovska deklica

Previous routes on Ajdovska deklica. Photo:


Invisible Transformation

In the summer of 2021, Luka Lindic and German climber Ines Papert went to have a good look at the face. A few metres to the left of the existing route of mostly yellow rock, they spotted a new line with grey rock, which is usually of better quality. That summer, the pair didn’t manage to finish this exposed new line. They returned this August and succeeded, under the watchful eye of the tourists and the Heathen Maiden herself.

Ines Papert and Luka Lindic.

Ines Papert and Luka Lindic. Photo: Marko Prezelj


The first free ascent

When Lindic decided to free climb this new route, Papert chose to simply belay her partner. Protection was a mix of pitons, cams, and a few bolts, with some bolted belays.

Luka Lindic climbing "Invisible Transformation".

Luka Lindic on ‘Invisible Transformation’. Photo: Marko Prezelj


“The line follows wildly overhanging terrain and often zigzags left and right to follow the path of least resistance,” says Lindic. “Because of this, retreating is very difficult and could pose a serious problem.”

“It had almost seemed that the climbing season was over,” recalled Lindic. “However, on a rather cool day, I was lucky enough to free the whole route without falling.”

Ines Papert and Luka Lindic contemplating the face.

Ines Papert and Luka Lindic before the face. Photo: Marko Prezelj

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.