The shift of the last ice age combined with karst erosion, left a specific mark on Durmitor. The impressive legacy of the glaciers is reflected in the unique relief forms of the peaks of Prutaš, Šareni Pasovi (“Colourful layers”), Sedlo (“Saddle”) and a glacier cirque of Lokvice.
The highest peak of Durmitor is Bobotov Kuk at height of 2523m, but Durmitor is home to as many as 40 peaks exceeding a height of 2000 meters. Its network of well-worn marked trails is exceptional for the Balkan region.
It is possible to walk from one end of the mountain massif to the other during summer, but what does that look like in the winter, when Durmitor’s peaks fall into deep winter slumber, under the burden of snow and ice, far from the world? Or – more simply – how can someone who isn’t an extreme climber experience this mountain during winter?
Two such adventures are presented in the sequel: First one goes straight to the heart of Durmitor winter fairy-tale, while in the latter one, Durmitors most prominent peaks are observed from close yet safe distance.
Black Lake to Lokvice on snowshoes.
Lokvice is a popular hiking destination during the summer months, especially for nature lovers without climbing ambitions. Summer “picnic” hike from the Black Lake is a chance to feel the might of the Durmitor mountain massif without climbing some its more challenging peaks.
Pace is of course, much slower during winter, when Lokvice represents a “legitimate” mountaineering goal, in conditions of fresh snowfall. Between three and four hours will be required to hike from the lake ramp to the bottom of the glacier cirque of Lokvice.
The terrain is undulating and elevation gain is slow. It is a good opportunity to try out snowshoes – special hiking footwear for navigating deep snow.
Snowshoes don’t only minimize the depth of stepping into snow and thus save energy, they also prevent footwear from coming into direct contact with snow and become wet at some point. This is an essential feature for full-day or multi-day adventures in snow.
The first part of the ascent curves through the dense pine forest positioned above the Black lake. After breaking out of the forest, the track goes through a small passage between the slopes of Medjed on one side and Čvorov bogaz on the other.
At one point, a powerful scene will emerge: a deep cirque with a mountain shack above it, in untouched virgin snow. This is Lokvice.
Out and back to Lokvice we covered 15km with 800m eelvation gain. We spent fantastic 12 hours in the wild.
Ski-Touring along the ridge of Savin Kuk.
For the morning after before heading back home, we went for a brief ski-tour along the ridge on top of Durmitor’s ski resort. Since we were based in fantastic wooden homes of Family Farm, only 250m from the small resort, we departed on skis literally out of bedroom.
What is ski-touring and what are the tour skis alike? Is it the same as nordic skiing?
Ski touring is neither Nordic nor Alpine skiing, but rather their common denominator and historical precursor. The skis themselves are alpine (with an emphasis on light weight rather than board hardness), while the connectors are nordic-alike (the heel is raised on ascent and fixed on downhill).
Both nordic and alpine skiing require prepared trails. In contrast, touring skis, as the name implies represent traditional means of transport through wilderness. Ski touring roots date back in ancient times in the Alps, long before ski-lifts emerged on mountains.
Savin Kuk is recommended for everyone trying this sport for the first time. Physically fit mountaineers eager to train will begin their ascent bottom-up via ski slopes.
Others can sleep in a little longer and leave most of the effort to the ski lift of the resort. They will only have to conquer last 200m of ascent from the top of the lift to the top of the mountain.
Despite the proximity of civilization views from the ridge are breathtaking.
Downhill from the top is free choice, but depending on skiing skill level. Experienced skiers can go direct down across Čista strana, while others should go down via regular ski slopes. The upper part called Kotao is very steep and snow quality usually problematic.
Snowshoes gear: TSL Outdoor Ride 305
Lodging on Durmitor: Family Farm