Local terrain is ideal for tour skiing. Whether is about long and technically demanding cruises of sweaty climbs with steep slopes loaded with adrenaline. Wherever you are in Montenegro, in winter time, at one hour drive at most there is some hill with ascent that awaits the fur on your skills.
Durmitor Massif is the most famous winter destination in Montenegro, with huge potentials for all skiing disciplines. Concerning tour skiing, there are many interesting lines on this mountain; the only question is just how much time you’ve got. Depending on technical possibilities and fitness, you can choose some of the long tours among the peaks of the middle massif or opt for going up and down on skies on one of those peaks.
One of the most popular tours starts beneath the cable-car on Savin kuk and leads through clear side of Šljemen up to the top. From here the return is possible by the same path, through the Mlječni do or the circular continuation across Šljemen cliff and Velika Kalica. The other version is a lot longer and more demanding, it consist of skiing down the curvature between Šljemen and Milošev tok and bracket arm beneath the boulders of Malo Šljeme towards curvature Mala Pljevlja, and from the spring, known as Točak right to the bottom of the ski track. The tour can be done is a day, and in case of slower advancing, alpine bivouac in Velika Kalica is secure and comfortable place to stay one night.
Rounded peaks of Bjelasica provide immense possibilities for different touring, and yet are little used. One of the shorter and technically undemanding lines, which attracts with the beauty of surrounding landscape and which is almost always possible to do, leads to the ski center Jetzerine ( 1444m) across Katun Vranjak on the peak Troglav (2072 m) with a system of light slopes and with several versions of descent. It is, if desired, possible to extend it with bracket arm to Zekova glava (2117 m), along which, you should keep away from the top line on the Troglav cliff because of eventual caves. Three hours are need for this tour.
This is not about Maglič on the border of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, but about one of the Kuči Mountains, between Komovi and Žijevo. Tour starts in Veruša village, at about 1000 m above the sea level ( depending where you leave your car), follows the line across Mokra towards Širokara, some 12 km, and comes out on a curvature on the katun Laković (1820 m). Here it leaves a road, turns north, and keeping along with the line of wide cliff, some 2-3 km, goes to the highest peak Maglič Lumer (2141 m). From there starts the slope which goes either along southwest side to the Bušat curvature and beginning of the Mokra valley, or southeast to Maglički Bigezi and upper part of Mokra. First version is a bit more steep, while the second is longer and more interesting, with more space and different combinations. From Mokra the same road leads to Veruša. Between 6 to 8 hours are needed for the entire tour.
As for the most skiing activities, the season for alpine touring starts from the last days of November and continues, depending on snow quantity, until May. The end of winter and beginning of spring are considered the best, either because of longer days, or because of the thickness or compactness of snow cover. In any case, this activity requires at least favorable, meteorological conditions. Everything else is a question of convenience and skills.
NOTE: World statistic show that the biggest percentage of avalanche-related incidents to skiers on alpine touring. Crossing large distances in off-trail areas brings many dangers and risk, and the biggest on the avalanche. Experience, knowledge and being well informed about conditions on the terrain must be the most important segment when planning your mountaineering and ski tours, since these incidents happen usually away from the ones who would come to the rescue. Therefore, get to know both, yourself and a mountain, do not go to the wrong place at the wrong time, learns what to avoid and when to give up. Avalanche will not chase you. It is you that can be in its way.
SKIING ON UDEVELOPED PATHS
In all Montenegrin ski centers there are great possibilities for skiing outside arranged paths, relatively near cable-car as an easiest and fastest way to upturn. These terrains often provide more space for various ski adventures than the existing ski paths, therefore skiers who can ski very well in frozen or deep snow can enjoy the slopes along the length of natural monuments lines. The other, incomparably wider category of ski fields outside the arranged paths, are mountains with no ski infrastructure at all, but with slopes that look as they are made for free ride. They require more effort and organization, danger is greater and help is more distant and harder to reach, but the feeling of adventure and pleasure is such that every risk seems worth taking. Book of winter fairytales has so many chapters on skiing in solitude and silence, the question is which one you prefer.
The most popular off-trail skiing lines on Durmitor are those on Savin kuk, whose peaks is only few hundred meters away from the last cableway station. Skiing down to east side, so called clear side, is possible from there, as well as skiing along the corridor between the posts upper cableway or skiing down Mesna Lastva to Velika Kalica. The other two versions have very steep and demanding slopes, with a slant of around 45˚, and they are only for good and confident skiers. There is a clear side Šljemen, but since there are no ski lifts on this peaks, uprising is possible either an alpine skis or on foot, with skis on the back. The slant of this mountain is about 30˚, and in good snow conditions it really provides real enjoyment. In Velika Kalica under Šljeme is the residue of an ancient glacier, known as Veliki namet, where it is possible to ski even in summer. Although the slope is relatively short and undemanding, it s a special feeling to ski while others are watching you dressed in shorts sleeves T-shirts.
Bjelasica is known by gentle and long slopes, pastures during the summer, and ideal spaces for skiing or snowboarding during winter. For those who are not ready to carry skis on their shoulders for long in order to go down the slopes through the snow powder, the most accessible cliffs is on Bjelasica that leads to south-west from the peak Ključ. From here, it is possible ( for good skiers) to go down to the ski track line in several different ways. Whichever you choose, take care of eventual caves of the cliffs. The difference in height is around 300m.
The best skiing conditions is Montenegro are from mid-January until mid-March, but the season sometimes beings much sooner or can be extended to the last days of April. Even here, global climate changes cause disruption in temperatures and rainfalls quantity, but the annual high point of snow thickness and its quality is exactly during this period. If your goal is on the higher altitude, the reason expands. Some lines are already formed in November and can last to the end of May. Of course, the most ideal skiing conditions shouldn’t be expected then.
NOTE: Although it doesn’t belong to particularly demanding, the slope down the so called “clear side” of Savin kuk on Durmitor is classic of local skiing outside the arranged tracks. Pitch is about 30-35˚somewhere even 40-45˚, around two kilometers long at starting altitudes of 2313 m and bottom altitudes of 1480 m. While you ski, the plateau of Jezerska Visoravan ( Lake’s Upland) opens in front of your eyes showing the mountains of middle and northeast part of Montenegro, as a wide elusive space. The access is easy, by the cable-car all the way to Savin kuk, and then few hundred meters by foot to peak’s outlet. In the upper part the path follows the line of the cliff above Velika Kalica, than slow separates towards south and gradually, depending on the snow, drags to the regular ski track. Because of the south and southeast orientation of the slope, snow is often not good enough for skiing but when it forms, this line gives an unforgettable enjoyment.
There are no specialized services in Montenegro that deal with avalanches, therefore, if you wish to ski outside of the usual paths you should check the state of the snow drift and its eventually tendency to avalanches. You should avoid slopes with exposition and orientation that can cause avalanches movements, which are located in the layers of snow caves on the cliffs and lead to concave relief shapes, especially after larger rainfalls or temperature rises. Do at least rough avalanche testing on very slopes; those 15 minutes can save your life.
Montenegro Hostel Team