Modric - Libinje - Sveto brdo: 6.30h
This is shortest route to climb Sveto Brdo but by no means it is easy. Route is still quite long with huge altitude difference. Mostly it moves over open rocky and grassy terrain, without shelter. Because of that it is most panoramic of three with beautiful scenery. If you want to do it in one day be in good shape, it is 6-7 hours of walking up and some 5 hours down. Altitude difference is more than 3.5km!.
Starting point of this route is Modric village on the coast of Velebit channel, 10 km south of Starigrad Paklenica (Zadar direction). The trail begins on the NW side of the Modric cove.
Modric – Libinje: 2.30h
Marks follow macadam road which ascends through the houses and quickly leaves the village. Over the rocky terrain with juniper bushes path gradually ascends above the sea till it crosses over the first step, 20mins from Modric. After a short flat section steep ascent over the next step begins. Path goes over large rocks and walking is unpleasant. After another 20mins you cross over another step. Behind is 10mins over flat (plateau) to Stanici hamlet (250m), 50mins from Modric.
Path passes through rocky fences and turns left going by the next one. After this gradual section it turns right and reaches narrow rocky gully which turns into water channel after heavy rains. At its bottom is a junction where is straight tougher while right is easier variation. Both meet some 10-15mins above. Continue straight through the gully and in some 10mins you reach junction where from right approaches easier variation.
Path is now wide and build, ascending in many zigzags up the rocky slope with nice views towards the sea. Around you is quite low vegetation which doesn’t obscure the view (hornbeams, oaks). After some 40mins you cross over the pass between the cliffs and peaks on first step of Velebit. Altitude is above 600m, 2h from Modric.
Pyramid of Sveto Brdo now gets into view as path gradually ascends over two terraces that lie between first step and Libinje plateau. In next 30mins you cross few meadows, each divided with small climb till you get to pass on the edge of Libinje. Altitude is 750m and you needed 2.30h from Modric.
Across Libinje Plateau: 1h
View of Sveto Brdo and Libinje plateau, with soft meadows of Malo Libinje just in front, is wonderful. On the pastures below you can often see semi wild horses during the summer. They are owned by people from Modric but they let them wander here freely. If they notice you it is likely that they approach you thinking you have food for them. From this point there are no more trees, only open grassy and rocky spaces. Sveto Brdo is still 1000m above but it doesn’t seam that way because of open grassy spaces that trick our eyes. Still 4h to go.
Path goes left, then right making a semi circle around the Malo Libinje field in 10-15mins. On the other side of Malo Libinje path reaches, after a short climb, rocky and grassy flat plateau which stretches between Malo and Veliko Libinje fields. This is not simple flat surface but one with lot of small depressions. Because of this path goes around few of them to avoid going up and down. Panorama is dominated by huge Debelo Brdo (1440m) with Sveto Brdo (1751m) left above it. Further left is Vlaski Grad (1375m). On the pass behind it is Vlaski Grad refuge and where you are heading. In some 30mins you reach Licki Doci field (830m) placed on Veliko Libinje. Over the flat field, where path turns gradually right, you reach gradually rising slopes at the foot of Debelo Brdo, 3.30h from Modric.
Libinje – Vlaski Grad pass (refuge): 1.30h
Over the rocky and grassy slopes path gradually ascends some 30mins to Pecica source. Water is good for drinking but it usually runs dry in summer. In winter it is likely that snow begins at this point.
Above the source there is a steep but not too long climb. On top of it path turns left towards Vlaski Grad. It gradually ascends over grassy terrain. View is wide from here. On the left is large Libinje plateau and valley of Orljaca creek valley. Behind them is sea and islands of Zadar archipelagos.
Behind nice meadow around which is rocky fence is steeper but short climb which takes you by lonely beech tree onto the Veliki Stirovac plateau below Sveto Brdo. Its pyramid is 600m higher on the right. Soon path passes by another source. Water is also good here except when those horses from Libinje come to drink here. I saw them few times even higher above on 1500m. 10mins from the source reach broad Vlaski Grad (1280m) pass, 1h from Pecica source, 5h from Modric.
View that open here towards main Velebit ridge and Mala & Velika Paklenica valleys will leave you breathless. Vlaski Grad refuge (1260m) is some 20m lower than pass on Paklenica side.
Vlaski Grad – Sveto Brdo: 1.40h
From the pass path ascends steeply, over the grassy slope, in many zigzags towards the main ridge of Velebit. Views on the sea and Paklenica valleys are beautiful. After some 40mins of climbing it reaches the pass (1500m) on the main ridge at the edge of Doci basin, which is surrounded by few 1700+ meters tops. In front is Babin Vrh (1744m) (Grandmother's peak, summit not visible from here) while on the right Sveto Brdo. Here is a junction where our route joins Velika & Mala Paklenica routes which come from left via VPP (Velebit Long Distance Trail). We turn right towards Sveto Brdo.
Next 15-20mins are flat, as path traverses slopes above Doci basin, till you reach the bottom of Sveto Brdo. From here to the top is quite steep. At the half way to the top (next 20mins) path reaches beautiful pass and view towards north (continental) side of Velebit and Lika explodes (literally). After another steep 20mins you’ll be standing on the summit of Panorama King of Velebit, enjoying one of most beautiful views Croatia has to offer, 1.30h from Vlaski Grad, 6.30h from Modric.
Debelo Brdo (1440m) variation
When looking from Libinje over it seams that most logical and direct route towards Sveto Brdo leads over Debelo Brdo. It is so but marks avoid its exposed, when Bura blows dangerous, grassy slopes with easier variation via Vlaski Grad refuge. Orientation is piece of cake because of open grassy spaces. If weather conditions are fine, especially if you have good visibility day and you are in good shape I highly recommend this variation which has fantastic views. Difficulty is that you have to carry all your things to the summit and down to Vlaski Grad refuge while if you go via refuge you can leave everything unnecessary there. But, as I said, if you are in good shape it is well worth it. Because of steep exposed slopes crampons are a must in winter. Ice axe is optional and walking poles replace it well.
There is not much philosophy here. Once you reach flat field of Licki Doci (830m) placed on Veliko Libinje it is just straight up the gigantic slope of Debelo Brdo. It is mix of rock and grass, quite steep with angle around 40-45°. On the lower part of the slope rock is predominant while higher up grass takes over. From Libinje you can notice two groups of beech trees. Between them is clear area with only one beech tree below belt of cliffs. Aim towards that beech. Just above it is rock/cliffs belt. Once over it you can continue straight up which would lead you to highest head or take more direct 45° left angle and gradually ascend. This way you’ll shorten the route somewhat and reach the ridge left of main summit and right of left one which is close to Sveto Brdo. From the Libinje you’ll need some 1.30-2h to surmount Debelo Brdo. Once on the ridge it is fantastic panoramic walk to the foot of Sveto Brdo (pass between it and Debelo Brdo) which is some 30mins or bit more away. From the pass it is 1h more to the summit via SW ridge. Last climb is again steep, around 35-45°. Slope is grass mixed with rock.