After a long break my wife Elena and I decided to spend our summer holiday in mountains. Small heights, marked paths, visa not needed, were the main reasons for chousing Montenegrin Durmitor. Thanks to SP we could see the beauty of Durmitor long before we visit it, but we could hardly find there any concrete information for planning (routes grades, objective dangers, necessary equipment). Authors usually refers to the guidebooks available in Zabljak, so we hoped to get needed information on the place. Two guidebooks we bought in Zabljak appeared to be more advertising then real guidebooks. “..we strongly advise you against climbing the mountain without a professional guide….Durmitor paths are marked, … but any wrong tern can put you in hopeless situation…”, so you can go anywhere but the information you can get only from experts and guides. Wonderful! The only informative gear we could get in Zabljak was mountaineering map “Durmitor” 1 : 22000. It was really good and we used it so intensively that after 2 weeks we spend in Durmitor in some places of the map appeared holes. So with the map in our hands we started Durmitor investigations by our selves. Durmitor appeared to be a very strange mountain area. First of all there are no rivers in Durmitor!!! We haven’t seen anything similar anywhere. The water drain does not form springs and rivers but in many places immediately escapes underground. It appears on the surface only in canyons of Tara and Piva rivers, approximately 20 km apart from Durmitor borders. That is why there are no valleys in the usual sense in Durmitor. Mountains are formed not by ridges and rivers as usual, but by funnels – craters and there borders. In the center of small funnels there are holes where water escapes, in the center of big lakes are formed. The sizes of funnels from several meters, to several hundreds meters. All these funnels are scattered in monstrous chaos.
Big funnel in Northern Durmitor
The moment we realized, that Durmitor is a giant gate to UNDERGROND we have been simply shocked !!! Absolutely fantastic, not a conceivable terrain!!! Why nobody of SP Durmitor residents even hasn't mentioned about it? So the structure of Durmitor mountains can be characterized in one word – chaos. To make a good track in such terrain is very difficult. While planning hiking and climbing tours in Durmitor one should realize that it will be a constant ascending and descending from one funnel to another so descent won’t be lighter then ascent. One more feature of Durmitor which we seldom face in the big mountains – abrupt grassy slopes. It seems to me that Montenegrins like grassy slopes more then rocks. Even if there is no need they choose grass (Uvita Greda).
Uvita Greda. Red – the marked route through grassy slopes.
Blue - a direct absolutely safe way through 2 small rocks:
As I already sad we could not find any information which of the marked routes to the summits were simple hiking and on which you need some safeguarding gear. From the very beginning we planed only hiking ascents. So it was a mistake to choose Prutas from the West. It appeared to be a real alpine route, approximately II/III UIAA grade, objectively dangerous for unroped climbing, so we had do descent to starting point. We also saw a party of two climbing Istocni Vrh with a rope, about II/III-III UIAA grade (marked rote).We ascended to Meded ridge in the middle of the marked route it is about II-II/III UIAA grade.
Prutas. West ridge. We were not ready to climb further without a rope:
Traditional climbing without rope in big parties up to 20 people is cultivated in Durmitor, we have seen such parties on Meded, Istochni Vrh, Bobotov Kuk. I don’t think this way of climbing is good for everybody. So if you plan to climb summits of Durmitor safely, and you don’t know definitely that it is hiking route you should have a standard gear for middle grade alpine routes (a single 10mm or possible 11mm rope, small selection of hexentrics, spikes and flakes, ice exe for abrupt grassy slopes).