|As soon as we woke up, we could see the shepherds were all agitated. One sheep was missing. The explanation was quite obvious – we all heard that howling wolf the previous night.|
Besides that, one other sheep grabbed our attention from the very beginning. She always grazed alone close to the settlement and never went up the mountains with the shepherds. We called her luda ovca – the mad sheep.
The decision were to go was practically made the night before, now we only confirmed it. We left Maja Popluks for the following day. Now, after the efforts of climbing the roof of the Accursed Mountains, we deserved a nice and easy walk. Like the one along the meadows on the ridge that leads to Maja Kolacit.
|We had a quick snack and set off for the base of our chute. As we thought, there was grass and scree in it. Nothing left to do but go up. The beginning was even easier than we thought but still everything was falling from under our feet.|
It got much steeper further up, exceeding 45-50 degrees, and not any more solid, but we were still gaining altitude pretty fast, climbing on all four legs. But higher up the scrambling became really evil. The relative safety of the chute ended and we entered an open slope, or rather a steep face of more than 60 degrees, consisted of loose rock mixed with vegetation. Rare bits of solid rock were covered with pebbles that kept falling down at the slightest touch. Perhaps it was not harder than I-II UIAA but can we use any grading for a choss pile that hardly holds together?
|Just a few more metres to the ridge. I waited for Gord and Azra as they climbed the nastiest bit. Finally on the ridge, couple more metres to the left to the summit. Nah, not yet, that’s only a false summit.|
The worst was behind us... hey, what’s that? We ain’t going much further. The true summit was another couple dozen metres of a knife-edge ridge away, with almost vertical walls of several hundred metres on both sides. A tad scary but perhaps alright to solo. But...
...between the summit and the next peak there was a gaping hole. We had no rope so we could not abseil. To go up the other side we would need gear too. And on that next peak we could see our meadow, looking at us with a mischievous grin. Indeed it looked like it was going all along the ridge to Maja Kolacit! Livada koja ne postoji...
|What are you afraid of, ya eejit? – asked the adventurer in me – you free soloed V+ before! That was years ago – answered the chicken – you ain’t climbed in ages... But it turned out to be not that bad. Sometimes with legs on each side of the ridge, sometimes a hand traverse with feet on a slab, once using only friction, with no real footholds. Then a few metres with no difficulty, just walking along the ridge. Then some climbing again. Loose rock at times, with big chunks ready to fall out under too much weight. And the air below, on both sides. Od višine se zvrti... the song by Siddartha sounds in my head. Maybe II+ UIAA in the hardest places, more difficult psychologically than technically, only the air and the choss give some extra adrenaline.|
Just below the summit there was a large yellow rectangular slab. From a closer distance I could see it was better to avoid it, too chossy and too much air below. I went a bit to the left from the ridge, into a small depression. Also chossy but not that steep. Double-checking every hold until the end, I climbed the peak. It was 12.30pm.
|I waved at Azra and Gord. Having left my camera, I could only count on their shots. Had anyone been here before? I looked at the further part of the ridge. Several metres of a scree slope and then a steep wall going down. Behind the deep col, another wall rising up. Then the grassy ridge, perhaps all the way to Maja Kolacit. Livada koja ne postoji. The meadow that is not there.|
Adrenaline dropped, for a while I forgot I still had to come back, enjoying the summit.
On the way back it was a lot easier as I already knew every move. We again congratulated one another, after all we came here together and I would not have been here without them.
|We looked at the map. Our mountain had to be the one marked as 2333 m. The first significant peak in the ridge beginning at Qafa e Pejës and leading to Maja Kolacit. Has it got a name at all? There seemed to be two more peaks between it and our peak, each next a bit higher, but unmarked on the map. Maja Kolacit was hidden behind them. The summit of Maja Jezerce also seemed to be hidden.|
We built a small cairn at the false summit, putting off that shitty descent for as long as we could. The summit ridge, a bit chossy as it was, at least had bomber holds galore. But here there was not much choice, we only had loose stones and grass to grab and stand on.
|We all felt quite knackered, perhaps more mentally than physically. We could not even be arsed to go bathe in the lake below Qafa e Pejës, although we had planned to. It was still early but we decided to go straight down to our camp.|
We went down almost the same way. Gord and me also went to the little peak on the side that hangs above the lake and the Qafa e Pejës pass.
The same steep slope was quickly leading us down to the valley. Our mountain, although not being the main peak in the ridge, looked really impressive from where we were.
|The dogs barked at us, like on the first day. From a distance we saw an older couple on the path from Thethi. They were travelling the ‘traditional’ way – the guy was bravely riding his donkey, with the woman following him on foot.|
Soon we said hi to Afrim and all the family. The very top of our peak could be seen from there, so pointing at it and using single words in different languages we tried to explain to him where we climbed. We wanted to know the name of our mountain.
|While we were away, someone brought a few cows from Thethi. Only too bad that thousands of midges came with them. They were biting us for the rest of the day. Azra professionally dressed Gord’s battle wounds from Qatat e Verlla.|
We planned to descend to Thethi and drive back to Koplik in two days so only the next day was left for the mountains. Our choice was obvious – Maja Popluks. Azra was feeling completely knackered, she told me and Gord to go without her. We still tried to twist her arm to go with us. Anyway, there was still a lot of time till next morning.
We cooked a big dinner, using whatever we had in our supplies. Soon we were all sleeping like logs in our tents.
* * * * *
In the wee small hours of the morning I was hit by the Curse of the Accursed Mountains.