Andrej Štremfelj


I was born on a cold day on 17 December 1956 in Kranj, where I live with my wife Marija and my youngest daughter Neža (the older two children, Katarina and Anže, already have their own families). In 1975, I finished Gimnazija Kranj secondary school and graduated from the Faculty of Sports at the University in Ljubljana in 1983 (thesis title: Predictive value of some motor tests for assessing the success of an alpine expedition). I teach physical education at the Šolski center Škofja Loka high school.

The mountains have been my passion since my childhood. While still in the primary school, I and my brother Marko completed the most demanding part of the Slovenian long-distance trail from the Vrata Valley to the Petrovo Brdo village in mere 8 days. In 1972, I embarked on my alpine career and became a member of the Kranj Alpine Club. My alpine career started to rise steeply.

I successfully climbed my first eight-thousander Gasherbrum I on a new route (W Ridge) in 1977. Two years later, I together with Nejc Zaplotnik successfully completed the great Yugoslav expedition and we became the first Slovenians to thread on the highest summit on the planet, Mount Everest. The ascent was once again performed on a new route (W Ridge). Later on I ascended six other eight-thousanders (Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II, Shishapangma, the south summit of Kangchenjunga, Cho Oyu, and Dhaulagiri), of which two were ascended on a new route and the other three using pure alpine style. I climbed Mount Everest twice. The second time was with my wife Marija in 1990, which made us the first married couple to stand on the roof of the world.

My first major alpine style challenge was climbing on a new route in the south face of Shishapangma (together with Pavel Kozjek). I achieved my greatest success only six months after the second ascent of Mount Everest by climbing on a new route to the S summit of Kangchenjunga in alpine style together with Marko Prezelj. This ascent earned us the prestigious mountaineering award Piolet d’Or (Eng. The Golden Ice Axe). In my long-lasting alpine career, I have participated – on several occasions also as leader – in more than twenty expeditions in the Nepalese Himalayas and three expeditions in Karakoram. I also undertook the first ascents of seven-thousanders Nyanang Ri, Menlungtse, and Janak Chuli (all of them were climbed on new routes in alpine style) and climbed on a new route on the highest seven-thousander Gyachung Kang.

I have worked as an instructor twice – and once also the leader – in the School for Nepal Mountain Guides in Manango founded by a Slovenian alpinist Aleš Kunaver. I have climbed also in Patagonia (new route of the N Tower Paine), Pamir (former Peak Communism on the Bezzubkin Pillar), USA (the Nose of El Capitan), Caucasus (Elbrus), and in Scotland. Among other things, I have also stood on the highest summits of North and South America (Denali and Aconcagua).

My career as a mountain guide started in 1982 and I obtained the IFMGA license in 1997. I am also an instructor at the Slovenian Mountain Guide Association (SMGA).



Marija Štremfelj


I was born as the ninth child in my family on 25 June 1957 in Kranj. In 1979, I married Andrej Štremfelj with whom I have three children. I finished the Gimnazija Kranj secondary school in 1976 and graduated from the Biotechnical Faculty at the University in Ljubljana in 1984. Since 1982 I have taught biology at the Gimnazija Kranj secondary school.

My alpine career started in 1975 at the Kranj Alpine Club. The first contact I had with high mountains was during the expedition to the Andes in 1979. Three years later, I was a member of the first female Yugoslav alpine expedition to the Pamir Mountains, where I climbed the 7,495 m high Peak Communism. By standing on my first eight-thousander in 1986, the 8,047 m high Broad Peak, I became the first female Slovenian to reach any of the fourteen highest summits in the world. In 1990, I became the thirteenth woman in the world to ascend the roof of the world, the 8,848 m high Mount Everest. This was and still is the first female Slovenian ascent to the top of the world. Together with my husband Andrej we entered the Guinness Book of World Records for becoming the first married couple to stand on Mount Everest. I managed to reach my third eight-thousander, Cho Oyu, in 1995, and the fourth one, Dhaulagiri, in 2004. By ascending Denali (Alaska), Aconcagua (South America), and Fuji (Japan) I was familiarized with an alternative climbing environment and style.

In the course of these expeditions, I performed many other ascents throughout different periods in more than thirty years of my alpine career. While I was still ‘green’ in my mountain boots, I repeated the female ‘sixes’ in the Paklenica Canyon, the Velebit Route, and the Raz klina Route (all of them are located in Croatia). In winter, I climbed the Dularjeva zajeda Dihedral in the Jalovec Mountain (Slovenia). This was followed by the winter repeats of the Krivic‑Cedilnik Route in the Široka peč Mountain, the Cozzolini Dihedral in the N Face of the Mali Koritniški Mangrt Mountain (both in Slovenia), and the ascent of the N face of Matterhorn (2003). The Walker Spur in Grandes Jorasses (1989) was the first female Yugoslav ascent to one of the Three Great Problems of the Alps. Other notable climbs in the rock include the Nose of El Capitan, the free climb repeat of the Kunaver-Drašler Route (VII+) in the Sfinga Pillar of Triglav, and the Comici-Dimai Route (VI) of Cima Grande (all three climbs were performed in 1993). In the last years, the first female repeat of Smer mladosti Route (Slovenia) in 2010 stands out.

Sport climbing as well as competition and rock climbing have a special place in my life. In competition climbing, one of my significant achievements was the win at the Rock Master climbing tournament in Kranj less than four months before ascending Mount Everest (1990). My other major climbs in the rock include the routes in the Dovžanova soteska Gorge (Disco, Bogovi so padli na glavo: Eng. The Gods Must Be Crazy, and Solea). One of my climbs in the Bohinjska Bela climbing garden is still considered the most difficult route climbed in sport climbing (Adria, 1990).