Thursday, 10 July 2014

Republika Hrvatska

How that gets to be pronounced as Croatia beats me. Maybe not the most precipitous range of hills but the Dinaric alps are fine to look at and ascend. I have had a go at a handful recently.

Croatia's highest point is Dinara (1831m P782) although it is not its most prominent one (that comes later). There is a small road towards the trailhead that leaves the village of Kijevo on the D1 road  at N43.96677 E16.36487.
Like other people I started from the unused bus-stop near Glavas hamlet N44.00556 E16.42150 - once upon a time there was a sketch map of the mountain on the side of the shelter, however, this is no longer legible.
The route is waymarked, though, all the way. If you are cheeky enough you could probably drive up through the hamlet to the end of the track by a blue building at 44.01105 E1641936.

From that point onwards the narrow path passes a ruined fortress and negotiates through rocky karst limestone and often through dense vegetation.

At one point I stood on a venomous horned viper - as it hissed and raised its head to seek revenge I whisked it away into the undergrowth with my walking pole. There are a couple of water/voda points and I found a trickle of water coming out of a pipe at N44.02806 E16.40670. I took a risk by drinking some and have lived to tell the tale.
Higher up the vegetation becomes more subdued and the limestone rougher. A number of large sinkholes have to be circumvented before eventually reaching the final pull up to the badly damaged trigpoint on the summit at N44.06251 E16.38288. The effort is well worth it with extensive views into nearby Bosnia i Hercegovina and further away islands in the Adriatic.
I descended more or less by the same route keeping a watchful eye out for the viper. However, all I met was the two very friendly dogs from the hamlet and they accompanied me back to the motorhome. These two dogs have been mentioned in other reported ascents of Dinara.

Svilaja is probably the least visited of the three Croatian Majors of this trip. It has the fanciest trigpoint with the mostest information - no mention of the prominence, though. I suspect there are easier routes of ascent than the one I took. The true summit is several metres to the northwest west of the trigpoint at N43.79070 E16.48474.

I left the tarmac road at N43.75106 E16.52328 and drove up a rough track as far as the closed Dom na Orlovim at N43.76891 E16.52381. Shortly further up the track two routes were indicated to the summit. I took the one that left the track and headed up into the trees and karst rocks.

It was obviously not a commonly used path, but I persevered. The route perversely ended up being a switchback ride as it went through the middle of a series of heavily vegetated and deep sinkholes.
The disadvantage of all the vegetation was that it made the going a bit tiresome at times. The advantage was that I had the pick of the plentiful wild strawberries to myself.
Possibly in days gone by these sinkholes could have been cultivated but there was little evidence of that now. Finally the path broke out on the easier upper slopes and then on to the broad ridge, pocked by large sinkholes.

For the return journey I went back to a junction of paths at N43.78405 E16.49425, turned left and descended by a steeper but much more straightforward path through the woods on the northern (allegedly still land-mined) face of the mountain to meet the gravel road at N43.78558 E16.50286 where there was space to park at least one vehicle. There followed a trudge back in the hot sun  and no strawberries round the mountain to the start.

Sv Jure mast
Sveti Jure

Sveti Jure is Croatia's most prominent mountain - 1762m P1164. I thought I would not be able to get to the summit (N43.34204 E17.05384) because of fencing around the comms mast and no excuse about climbing over the high gate as the warning sign said no entry in five languages. However, someone had kindly dug a tunnel under the fence round the back. To tell the truth - the rest is a drive-up, where any exhaustion comes from frequent turns of the steering wheel at the many sharp turns in the road for 21 kilometres.

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