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ICE CLIMBING


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Frozen waterfalls are present in all regions of Montenegro, from the coast to the northern mountains, but their forming time and duration, as well as the ice quality, are far more suitable in higher and colder areas. In the canyons of Morača, Mrtvica, Tara, as well as in the mountains valley like Komarnica, most frozen waterfalls are formed or not so easily approachable places. Except few routes which have already been climbed, possibilities for climbing for the first time and leaving the personal trail in ice crystals are huge. Whether it is still unclimbed route on the existing or completely new waterfall, every location where they are formed is still a treasury of undiscovered adventures.

Bar

Even though unusual, even a coastal town has the conquest of frozen waterfalls in its tourist offer. On the south sides of the Rumija mountain, on the road which leads across Sutorman towards Virpazar, 15 minutes from Bar, there are two little waterfalls around 30 meters high and of WI 2-3 difficulty. Their exposition and geographical-climate position are not suitable for long duration and creation of sufficiently thick ice-shell, but still represent an extraordinary experience-swinging tools into ice, with the Adriatic Sea as the background.

 

Podgorica

The capital city of Montenegro is more known by summer heats than by ice. Podgorica’s surrounding abounds with potential for this discipline, especially the canyons of Rivers Morača and Mrtvica. Waterfalls in Morača Canyon are easily accessible ( except for a few lines under Dragovića polje, on the right bank of the river), and are in the vicinity of the asphalt road, with few of them in the close vicinity of the main road. The area with waterfalls are marked by jumps and variations in difficulties and the ice quality, which is the consequence of water freezing on weaker courses that don’t  have a constant water inflow. Waterfalls like Svetigora, under the Morača Monastery, partly because of strong flow, and partly because of their exposition, rarely form lines suitable for climbs. Three waterfalls on the line Međurijećje-Morača Monastery  (WI 3-5), are frequently formed during the season, as well  as those under the turning on Mioska ( WI 2-4), and here are numerous ice or mixed lines between Dragovića polje and the source of Morača River ( WI 3-5, M6 and more difficult). In the Mrtvica Canyon , known by the hiking road, carved in a boulder on the left rivershore by Yugoslav National Army soldiers, flows down the sharp canyon walls enable only short periods of sunbathing, even on the sunny sides, these lines have relatively good quality and sufficiently thick ice shell, with a pretty difficult, long-lasting access and withdrawal. By now, not a single one of these routes was climbed in the canyon, and are hundred meters highs. In direct vicinity of the city, on the way to the Kuči there is a cascade waterfall Vodenica on Fundina brook, which relatively often freezes and gives good conditions for easy and interesting cascades are around 15 m high. Waterfalls difficulties are in the range WI 2-3.

Šavnik ( the valley of Komarnica)

Considering the discipline, Šavnik surroundings are the most visited and attractive region in Montenegro, especially areas of villages Boan and Komarnica. Waterfalls in the Boan village are easy (WI 2) and are tenths of meters high, but the situation is changing as you approach Šavnik. At few kilometers away from the village above monastery Podmalinsko, the ice line “Francisco”, WI 3, 50 m high, is being formed, while, on the other side of the river, a whole little ice park, consisting mostly of icicles and stalactites, is being formed by a stream overflowing by the right bank and leaking down the rocks. No routers are climbed here; everything is untouched nowadays as it was centuries ago.

In the Komarnica valley there are three interesting waterfalls, with Skakavac as probably the most climbed one in Montenegro . It is situated on the Grabovica streamlet, in a little amphitheater before the river mouth, at the Nevidio Canyon’s entrance. The exposition and the relief in the backgrounds enables this relatively strong river flow to form attractive ice structure, where especially attractive is characteristic alcove in the upper half of the route. Through larded stalactites, like the fringes of some fairytable baldachin, opens a view to the dark kerfs of Nevidio and a mystery of its cliffs. The second waterfall is, situated on Mokra Ploča at the end of Komarnica village. Its difficulty is WI 4+/5; height is about 60 meters and freezers very rarely in climbable form, with thin and fragile ice. The third, WI 5, 20 m, is few kilometers further up the valley, hidden in the forest below the Boljske Grede.

 

Tara Canyon

The biggest in Europe and the largest in the world, Tara Canyon is also home to numerous frozen waterfalls, but none of them have been climbed up to the very end. Since the approach to the crags and routes in the highest parts of the canyon is very difficult and long, we will limit ourselves only to the entrance part, from Dobrilovina to the bridge Đurđevića Tara.

In a big amphitheatre, on the left side, only few kilometers away from Dobrilovina towards the bridge, there is one of the most interesting and attractive waterfalls in Montenegro. Those who has enjoyed pictures (or climbing) on Fanga or Pilsner Pillar in USA, will find something here for himself –grand stalactite which ultimately touches the ground forming a pillar which is 30-40 m high, with ice that reaches at least the same height over the cliff. For the ones that feel at home in the climbs rated in difficulties around WI 5, this line is more than a good reason for an early rise. Depending on the season, waterfalls that go down to the very road can be found in the whole of this area. Their heights, difficulties and quality vary-from wide and light curtains ( WI 3), 20 meters high, to the long and periodically mixed combinations in the bevels and lurking-places that characterize that boulder above the road. Down the cliff over Tara’s right bank, in front of the bridge, streamlet brooklet‘s waters fall down and form the waterfall of great attractiveness in its structure and also by the scenery around it. It is about 70 m high, with difficulties that don’t go under WI 5. Because of the south exposition, sun warmth will represent a worthy prize for the effort of the fist climbers, whenever they show up.

 

Season

Although waterfalls in Montenegro freeze over almost every year, due to the relatively low sea-level altitude, mostly southern exposition and, above all, closeness of the sea as reservoir of war air, which melts them, ice climbing season is very short.  Low temperatures, on which they are formed, mostly begin at the end of November and last until March, but the period from the mid December to mid of February is considered as the best, although as usually takes two to three weeks of low temperatures for most of them to be regarded as climbable. Yes, these periods of cold times are hastily and rapidly changed or interrupted by significant defrosting, that melts and overthrows formed ice structures. So, it is always necessary to watch weather forecast and plan the climb accordingly. Sometimes the season offers only a few suitable days for climbing, and due that, organizing longer climbing activities is impossible. Global warming, whose consequences are increasingly felt, also contributes to the season’s reduction.

 

NOTE: all mentioned waterfalls are located on public property, therefore no special licenses are needed for access and climbing outside the national parks. For climbing waterfalls in the Tara Canyon, besides the usual tax of the NP “Durmitor”, no special taxes were required so far, but the fact the Park guards don’t have much understanding for this sport should be considered. Although there is no specific rule, they often demand from the rope teams to stop climbing and move away. You should be especially cautions on the lines that go directly down to the traffic artery, where the safety of climbers and the other traffic participants is jeopardized. Rope teams that are climbing in such places should mark their position with standing signaling, in other to avoid, not only the traffic penalty, but also any serious incidents that is completely unrelated to climbing.

Camping during winter makes sense only if high quality equipment for bivouac is used: winter sleeping bags, good pallets and four season rents. Yet, the question is: are you able to enjoy the waterfalls after a night spent on serve minus degrees, particularly when the goal is not only rising the limits of toughness, but spending free time in a way that will charge your energy. So it is better to choose an indoor accommodation, even if it a bit far, to save more energy for tomorrow’s climb and lessen the possibility of some unwanted outcome caused by inadequately organized bivouac.

 

Montenegro Hostel Team

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