/ Djeravica - Kosovo

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Babika 11 Feb 2020

Has anyone climbed this mountain? 

I'm planning it in late May and there seem to be a few potential issues such as lack of maps or online info, access, bears, aggressive sheep dogs, late snow, stove/fuel purchase ease in Kosovo, landmines.....

Any tips, particularly on the access and navigation appreciated - thanks!  

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Babika 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Babika:

> Has anyone climbed this mountain? 

I guess that's a No then......:/

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Frank R. 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Babika:

Bears - we did not see any bears in Prokletje (Bjeshket e Nemuna) mountains on the Albanian side, even somewhat off the beaten track. Might have been just lucky, or I guess they could be wary of people when everybody and their ten year old son has a rifle ;)

Navigation - the main hiking trail (Peaks of the Balkans) and others with the most traffic (i.e. the easier ones) were pretty well marked. Others - not so much, some virtually non-existent, few forest ones totally overgrown (ended up bushwhacking through small trees or heavy juniper overgrowth on a slope quite a few times) and some marked ones lead elsewhere then the maps showed. We used Windymaps app (basically offline OSM maps, but nice), as they show even the small local trails, but don't follow them blindly, the trail could be 20 years old  Up higher in the Alpine terrain some cairns and occasional markings. Use common sense.

Borders - you can get an inexpensive mountain border crossing permit in advance, if you need to cross the borders in the mountains and finish in different country than you started.

Cooking & fuel - good luck finding screw-in type gas cartridges anywhere in Albania and possibly Kosovo. Even in Montenegro they are very hard to find. Locals use these piercing cartridges with a dedicated small stove that you have to keep on until it's empty (these can be had very cheaply at most markets and stalls, but they are not the lightest or most practical, and it's just summer butane). Get a liquid fuel stove or plan for it.

The only reliable source of screw-in cartridges I found was in Podgorica (Montenegro), only after a very thorough search of albanian and montenegrian websites and a few phone calls - Okov (a big hardware store chain), they even had 4-season mix (isobutane/propane).

If you need any more details, feel free to PM me...

Post edited at 13:57
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Babika 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Frank R.:

That's really helpful - many thanks. 

I'll certainly check out the windymaps app. - sounds useful.  I have one Balkans 1:60,000 map but it's not great. And another I bought this morning puts a Montenego mountain Maja Kolata in Albania - so its redrawn the border totally!!

I had a hunch about the gas cylinders and have dug out my 30 year old Gaz Bluet stove. Failing that I shall buy one out there. 

Glad to hear that some trails in Kosovo around Djerivica are well marked. Let's hope they're not still under snow in late May, which is always possible.....

Thanks again!

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Frank R. 12 Feb 2020

Regarding your maps, I do think Maja Kollates actually is fully in Albania - you might be mistaking it with Zla Kolata and Dobra Kolata, two lower subpeaks which are on the border. Although I am not sure - some of the peak heights could a bit "disputed" for national reasons

I don't know much about the Peaks trail on the Kosovo side - I've been to the more rugged karst western part of Prokletje, I haven't been in the Deravica/Gjeravica area. Snow could still be a real possibility in late May, though. Or it might be completely dry

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Mark123 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Babika:

I climbed Djeravica in winter conditions a couple of years ago. I made a short video of the route.  Fascinating region, with lots of climbing potential. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAduNnE8AIE

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Frank R. 12 Feb 2020
In reply to Mark123:

Nice! I've been only to BiH in the Balkans [1] during winter and many times in Summer, plenty of climbing, hiking, ski-touring or snow-shoeing opportunities there as well, but I can't wait to get back there! I guess it's needless to say I like the whole region quite a lot

[1] it would be quite unfair to bunch up all the lovely countries and mountains there into just a somewhat condescending "The Balkans", since every country there - even geologic formation or mountain range - is very specific, different and interesting on its own

Post edited at 22:43
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Babika 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Mark123:

Wow! Great video - it looks very beautiful, unspoilt and unravelled which is definitely part of the attraction. 

How long did it take you? How far did you manage to get a vehicle in winter conditions? 

I'm hoping to get a vehicle to Erenic and camp/bivi but failing that leave at Jasic quarry and spend an extra day walking to Erenic. 

Hoping not to get too disorientated trying to navigate forest!

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Babika 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Frank R.:

Totally agree about the individual culture, geography, language etc. Its a fascinating part of Europe. And I really enjoyed BiH as well

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L intheshed 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Babika:

Can't comment on the mountaineering, but I was an aid worker in Kosovo 1999-2000, and then in Montenegro a couple of years later. The mine threat along the Kosovo/Albanian border was high, particularly in the Decan region which was a KLA stronghold during the war and therefore a target for the Serb paramilitaries. The Humanitarian EOD guys did a fantastic job of clearing mines and sub-munitions (a lot of aid money was thrown at Kosovo), but keep in mind that they would have focussed on agricultural land rather than out of the way tracks and trails. Obviously, it has been a long time since I was there and I'm sure most of the area you want to treck in has been inadvertently 'cleared' by wildlife, shepherds, Albanian smugglers etc. However, if you did want absolute peace of mind then it might be worth contacting UNMACC for maps of the 'cleared' areas?

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Mark123 13 Feb 2020
In reply to Babika:

Thanks. I'd been working in Kosovo, and had 3 spare days at the end. I'd no-one else to climb with, an inadequate map and there was  lots of fresh snow hiding all the tracks, so I used a guide. The trip was 3 full days in February,  there and back from Peja. This included one day climbing another peak called Maja e Bardhe (2415m), before climbing Djeravica (2656m) the next day . We seemed to be the only ones in the mountains. The company wrote a blog about the trip giving some other details -  https://bnadventure.com/climbing-gjeravica-in-winter-conditions/.

Kosovo is a fascinating country, the people immensely friendly and the mountains fabulous.  The company I used are based in Peja and were very good.

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Frank R. 14 Feb 2020
In reply to intheshed:

Thanks. Unfortunately it seems Kosovo has been declared pretty much “cleared” but there are UXOs and mines found - usually the hard way - still. Gjeravica west side has been mentioned among the mined areas on summitpost, but the UN mission maps are quite old. Could not find anything newer.

Probably much better than BiH, though. Last time in the mountains around Sarajevo I was very careful to stick to the trails...

I’d check with the locals and the few remaining demining ngos. It’s a border area after all.

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