The Alps are dumped with fresh snow. The borders to all Alpine countries are practically closed, due to Covid-19. Looking at trip reports from countries around is like waving a candy in front of a child’s eyes that is just out of reach. Is there a better time to explore the Balkan mountains in winter? We head to Velebit mountain range in Croatia and a couple of mountains in Bosnia in search of some ski touring.
Balkan Ski touring Day 1: Velebit (Croatia)
Krasno Polje is normally our meeting point for all multiday Velebit hiking expeditions. Rolling hills connecting plateaus and hiding one of the wildest parts of Croatia. What makes for stunning 3 season trekking also made for a stunning ski touring location.
We launch not far from one of the Dairy farms in Krasno Polje.
Past the small countryside houses…
And up the steep forest terrain.
The route follows a steep summer hiking path that brings us up on one of the plateaus.
Up on the plateau, stunning views of the thick forests that stretch as far as your eyes can see. Not far today, but come on a sunny day and the landscape just goes indefinitely.
Our original route goes to Mali Rajinac, place with great views of the seas. We skip that peak. Firstly it is overcast and views will amount to nothing. Secondly, we are keen to get as much continued (and steep) verticals for a continued downhill. We head to Robinac instead (marked in green).
Robinac peak (1587m) may not win any beauty contests nor compete for views with nearby peaks, but it provides for first class (steepish) forest descent.
A cold day like this keeps the snow far from powdery but still pufffy enough to turn the forest into a playground. Day one of our trip comes as just what the doctor ordered: snow, powder and steep terrain. If all goes like this, this will be epic. Now we need to cross the border to Bosnia.
Balkan Ski touring Day 2: Jahorina (Bosnia)
With lockdowns in place, I craved for mountains in search of some normality. That we found. But, crossing the border in Bosnia, it felt like we entered a parallel universe. Restaurants are open and most venues keep impeccable Covid-19 procedures communication: mandatory masks, a limited number of clients in venus…it all stops there. As a message.
We made a stop somewhere on the way to have a portion of čevapčići and ambitiously entered armed with face masks only to find we were the only ones wearing them. Life here is equally relaxed and, had it not been for the Covid-19 posters, you couldn’t tell life is any different.
Good thing is we tested for Covid-19 before returning home and were all negative. Now we can laugh about it. 🙂
What happened in the mountains? Read on.
I am ashamed to say, this is my first time in Jahorina. Picturesque, cozy, well maintained. Sure, tons of snow helps, but I can see how my family is coming here for holiday next winter. 🙂
We arrived in the night when temperature was minus 14 Celsisu and same temperature was forecasted for our day 2 of the Balkan road trip.
Entire forests frozen and snow covered.
And slopes meticulously maintained.
We ambitiously started with a plan on where to ski tour and explore some cliffs west from the ski resort. After 40ish minutes we reached one of the peaks.
Snow was soooo good, offpiste options so abundant that we ditched the idea of a skitouring day. We bought the day pass and hit the forest.
Plenty of drops and pretty much no crowds beyond the slopes.
Neven finding a new line far from the slopes.
Aco scouting his route.
Neven using every bump for some air time.
Balkan Ski touring Day 3: Treskavica (Bosnia)
Thanks to our friends from Bosnia, we received a few tips for longer ski touring routes and we opt for Pašina Planina from Turovo village.
A pretty long approach had multiple ascends and descends. It did have a cozy little bridge, just wide enough for your skiis.
Treskavica mountain range is well known for its lakes and a mountain hut based there. We reached a saddle just above the lakes as the wind picked up and the weather worsened a bit earlier than planned.
A selfie and then we split the group.
We kept on climbing, knowing that we reached this point much later than planned.
So, we turned in one of the couloirs, climbed it and just 100m under the Krajačica klanac started our ski back. After all, the return to Turovi village has multiple uphills.
This is where my part of this short Balkan ski touring trip ended. Return back to Zagreb brings me to a total of 1.060km of driving over 4 days. It feels a lot less knowing that there is snow to be skied mountains to be discovered in the Balkans.
Complement this piece with a photo essay about a powder day in Slovenian Alps from earlier times. Read more about our ski mountaineering climb on Mangart mountain range. For something altogether different take a look at a winter sea kayaking trip on island Hvar.
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‘Moving your limits’ isn’t necessarily about the highest mountains, biggest caves, deepest canyons, or oldest ruins. But it is about great adventures. It’s about that constant pursuit of the world’s secrets – cultural as well as natural. It’s about how we move in nature and raise our expectations about each and every place in the world, moving our mental and physical limits on the way.