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recaro94 Durmitor Nacionalni Park - A travel report by Cody
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Durmitor Nacionalni Park,  Montenegro - flag Montenegro
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recaro94's travel reports

My Time On The Durmitor Massif

  7 votes
Durmitor National Park is without a doubt one of the world's most spectacular mountain ranges. Given it's small size, it packs quite a punch of tall peaks, glacial lakes and deep valleys.


Looking back outside of the park over the road, from Prutas. Our initial climb
Looking back outside of the park over the road, from Prutas. Our initial climb
Durmitor National Park is relatively small. Instead of doing as my guidebook recommended (a complete loop through the park`s highlights) we decided to hire a cab and take it to the opposite side of the park, where we would start and hike back, through the mountains, to the town of Zabljak. Any trip to Durmitor begins in Zabljak, a small Montenegrin ski town that caters to hikers in the summer. Buses here were maddeningly infrequent, and so we hired a cab from Podgorica in order to save precious time for 50 euro. I would recommend picking up a map from the tourist center here, easily spotted next to Zabljak`s town square (parking lot). Most hikers simply walk from here to the park gates, which is how our hike ended in reverse. From Zabljak we cabbed around the mountains. This cab ride took place on a tiny winding road, that rose and fell at the mountains whim across Durmitor's backside, but it only took 45 minutes. This ride showed us the mountains that extended beyond Durmitor's borders and had me transfixed, nose glued to the window at the way the rock was churned and wrapped in tight coils to form these megaliths. The sun and cloud shadows put butterflies in my stomach. Though the ride was short, I knew our hike back was not going to be easy. It seems when I incorporate mountain hikes into my trips it never goes as easy as anticipated...

Favourite spots:
Škr?ko Jezero and the massif. During our foolish descent
Škr?ko Jezero and the massif. During our foolish descent
My favourite spot was probably right at the start; Prutas. After the cab dropped us off we hiked up the back. Alongside as we climbed ran the mountain's protruding ribs; huge lumps of white rock that run from base to peak. This mountain wasn't included in any of our guidebooks hikes but I knew that the impressive massif on the other side of the Škrcko Jezero was best viewed from the Prutas peak. From here the view is unmatched. At your feet, what feels like inches is actually thousands of feet below to the shores of Škrcko Jezero, the most secluded of Durmitor's 18 glacial lakes. Across the valley is a wall of decaying rock, spewing gravel into the valley below. You are looking across at Montenegro's tallest peaks, standing in line for you. Bobotov Kuk, the tallest, stands to the south-east and the peaks get successively shorter and more contorted as you look north. In front of Bobotov Kuk lies what I came to Prutas to see; Stit. This mountains rock is twisted beyond belief.

What's really great:
Susica Canyon from the top of Prutas
Susica Canyon from the top of Prutas
We were quite alone for the duration of our time in Durmitor. It's possible this is because I had planned to be there in the middle of the week, but being alone wandering among these giants made the experience all the more surreal. Of course this meant that besides our guidebook, we were completely on our own. Along most major paths though are these small painted red and white bulls-eyes to guide you. I don't know who climbed these paths with buckets of paint, backwards and forwards and ensured that from every spot on the path the next dot was easily visible, but without them this journey would have taken days longer at best, and been impossible at worst. Also special was the weather. It was warm and sunny, with clouds sparse enough to throw beautiful shadows across the valleys and mountain faces. We were here in late August so I can't speak for the rest of the year, but it's a given that when mountain climbing, weather and the time of year you visit deserves some consideration.

Sights:
Škr?ko Jezero and it's valley.
Škr?ko Jezero and it's valley.
The mountains here are remarkable. Growing up in Banff and Jasper National Parks I'd thought that mountains had been spoiled for me but I was dead wrong. Durmitor is beyond a spectacle, with views and mountains I couldn't have imagined before seeing them in person. In addition to the peaks and valleys, we attempted to explore both the Tara River canyon and the Susica River canyon. The Tara can be viewed easily from many points along its edge, but we chose to arrange a rafting trip through it. Pressed for time and out of rafting season, we were left with a slow meandering two hour tour. Doing the length of the canyon, through the impressive parts, takes days and is fastest and roughest in spring. The Susica canyon was only a half hour hike from our camp at the Škrcko Jezero so we decided to take a look. While the canyon was breathtaking from the top of Prutas, the hike was not worth it. Unfortunately, the allegedly spectacular waterfall had dried up when we were there.

Accommodations:
Looking up at the Samar Pass. Beside Stit, Bobotov Kuk ahead
Looking up at the Samar Pass. Beside Stit, Bobotov Kuk ahead
Though there are two huts (one at the staging area Lokvice and one on the shores of Škr?ko Jezero), and though I am told each has beds for travellers I would simply recommend to do as we did and bring a tent and sleeping bags. Though these added to our pack weight, the ease of being able to camp anywhere is a worthy trade off. When descending Prutas me and my girlfriend lost the trail laid out by the painted dots. Instead of going down either side of the mountain, we foolishly wandered straight down it's face toward the lake. This was doable for the first half until we had trapped ourselves in a tiny meadow, surrounded below and above by cliff. If needed we could have camped here! Instead, with the sun setting, I tried my best to scale down a small crack in the cliff face. With only the pressure of my arms against the crack walls keeping me up, I twice clipped my backpack on the rock and nearly fell to my death. It took me about half an hour to descend only...

Nightlife:
South face of Prutas. The shadow just to the right of center is the crack we descended.
South face of Prutas. The shadow just to the right of center is the crack we descended.
...50 feet. (Continued from accommodations as there is no nightlife here). Then it was my girlfriends turn. I told her to take a different route for fear her legs would be too short for the crack, as mine nearly were. She attempted to climb down one of Prutas' spines like a ladder, and was nearly stuck at the top. In her panic she caused a small rock slide which split my left hand wide open. After talking it out, we decided it was best she abandon her backpack and throw it down to me. With one hand gripping the cliff and my feet loosely dug into the slippery gravel, I managed to stop it with one arm from falling the remaining thousands of feet into the lake. After climbing up to her to ensure her route was indeed possible, she followed my left-hand-blood-stains down and we arrived lake side just as the sun disappeared. After the cliff, we had to continue for about two hours down another shallower cliff and through thick under brush, but given our tent we could have stopped at anytime

Hangouts:
More twisted rock, with Zupci, Durmitor`s `Teeth` in the background
More twisted rock, with Zupci, Durmitor`s `Teeth` in the background
Excellent views are a dime a dozen here, you begin to take them for granted at the end! The best were from Prutas, the Samar Pass, and the Lokvice campsite. The two toughest climbs here are up to the Samar Pass and up to the Trojni Prevoj pass. Samar is steep, but marked. Never continue if you can't see the red paint! It's there! However Trojni Prevoj is not marked, which caused us many problems. Having started our trek at Prutas, we were following the guidebook backwards. Except for the debacle on Prutas this hadn't caused us problems yet, but with no trail markings up or down Trojni Prevoj, we were left to wander and try to interpret the guidebook in reverse. This left us to stumble among boulders and fields for much longer than it should have. We did this trek in 2 and a half days, but with more time I would definitely do this in the conventional direction. We didn't have time to summit Bobotov Kuk or hike to the ice caves, but these are at the top of my list for next time.

Other recommendations:
From Lokvice, looking back over the valley we descended from Trojni Prevoj, at the top
From Lokvice, looking back over the valley we descended from Trojni Prevoj, at the top
I brought along with me "The Mountains of Montenegro" by Rudolf Abraham. It has excellent maps and is a good guide, though if you plan on using this guide you must follow it exactly. Following it in reverse, as I learned, does not work. We also stocked up on food (peanuts, pineapple, buns and cookies. I know, I know...) at the local grocery store before leaving town. We also managed to find a hotel that would hold all the belongings we didn't need to bring along. This was a huge help as it lightened our load considerably. I recommend setting aside lots of time for Durmitor, depending on what you hope to climb. Our two and a half days were not nearly enough time to fully experience this magnificent park.

Published on Tuesday October 11th, 2011


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Wed, Nov 16 2011 - 08:16 PM rating by louis

This report is so different than the others published here, but I must say that I loved it. It shows that sometimes a real adventure costs us a lot of efforts and strenght.

Wed, Oct 12 2011 - 04:10 PM rating by mistybleu

An awesome read.

Wed, Oct 12 2011 - 08:52 AM rating by krisek

Excellent read and fantastic photographs! What a near-death experience!!Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and observations.

Wed, Oct 12 2011 - 05:00 AM rating by porto

What an adventure! Pity about the waterfall, but most important you made it back in one piece. ;-) Thanks for sharing.

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