The question of when man first climbed the slopes of Mount Učka out of curiosity and for sheer pleasure rather than for survival remains unanswered.
This area has been visited by prominent scientists for many years. The first recorded ascent of Učka’s peak was made in 1722 by Zanichelli, a botanist from Venice. Over the next 150 years, numerous botanists and geologists from various countries visited Učka to pursue their interest in the mountain’s rich vegetation.
The first Croatian botanist to visit the slopes of Učka was Ljudevit Rossi in 1872.
The Saxon king Friedrich August II, who was also a passionate botanist, climbed the peak of Učka on the 10th of May 1838 in an expedition together with the Croatian BanJosip Jelačić. A stone plaque whose inscription is in Latin has been erected in Lovran to commemorate this event.
These were the years when Učka was growing increasingly popular due to its closeness of Opatija, a popular resort for European aristocracy. As a result, many aristocrats of that time visited Učka to admire its beauty. With the development of tourism along the coast, progress gradually reached the slopes of Učka too. The local tourism office would advise visitors to take a cruise on Kvarner Bay or a “highly rewarding mountain tour” to Učka’s peak.
This is how Učka, previously of interest only to scientists, geologists or botanists, became popular among hikers and day-trippers and the tourists who were spending their holidays in Opatija.
The Poklon pass and the whole of Mount Učka became a favourite destination of tourists from the whole Opatija Riviera. The Poklon Mountain Hut provided comfortable shelter and was a starting point for climbing the peak, where one could enjoy a magnificent sunrise, the most spectacular moment of any ascent to the peak of Učka.
It is interesting to mention that in 1852, Avelin Ćepulić from Rijeka published an article entitled “Dawn at Učka”in the Neven magazine. This article, describing the ascent of some mountaineers from Rijeka to the peak of Učka, represents the first account of a hiking trip in Croatian literature.
SOME IMPORTANT YEARS IN THE HISTORY OF MOUNTAINEERING ON UČKA
1874 Founding of the Croatian Mountaineering Society, which made Croatians the ninth nation in the world to have their own alpine club, even before some “alpine” peoples.
1885 The Viennese architect Ferdinand Brodbeck, a member of the Oesterreichischer Touristen Club (OTC), founds the Club Alpino Fiumano (CAF). In the same year, the OTC opens a new route to Mount Učka (Opatija – Veprinac – Učka).
1887 150 day-trippers from Vienna climb Mount Učka. In the same year, the first mountaineering facility on Učka is opened on the Poklon pass – the Kronprinzessin Stephanie mountain hut.
1888 Founding of the Littoral Alpine Club. Two renowned personalities of that period, Frano Supilo and Vladimir Nazor, used to visit Učka.
1911 Construction of the stone tower at Vojak peak, on the initiative of the Oesterreichischer Touristen Club.
1913 Guido Depoli (president of the CAF) publishes the hiker’s guidebook “Guida di Fiume e dei nostri monti“, in which he describes climbing Mount Učka.
1912 The CAF takes possession of the Poklon mountain hut, renaming it “Rifugio Duchessa d’Aosta”. After World War Two and the establishment of further alpine clubs in Rijeka and Opatija, hikers begin to regularly climb Mount Učka.
1965 Opening of the new Poklon mountain lodge.