Durmitor National Park is certainly the most famous and beloved mountain range in Montenegro. The mountains here aren’t the biggest or baddest ever, but they have an undeniably wonderful and unique character, like a combination of the rugged might of the Alps with the wild solitude of the Colorado Rockies. They seem to have a dash of everything I love most in mountains — jagged spires, sculpted peaks, vast green meadows, fields of wildflowers, misty forests, emerald lakes, and the freedom to explore it all in relative solitude. We spent four amazing days last week trekking through the heart of these fantastic mountains.
This was actually my second time visiting Durmitor; I was here by myself back in June of 2004. At that time it was the off season, the mountains were still covered in snowpack, and I was the only tourist in Zabljak, the little town situated at the base of the Durmitor mountains. There was only one restaurant open then, where I ate every evening with some Serbian army guys I met. It rained six days straight and when it finally stopped I used all my pent up energy to walk from town to the summit of Bobotov Kuk (the highest peak) and back in one day, with snowpack and all. Those army guys said it was impossible and didn’t believe me until I showed them the summit photos on my camera!
Eleven years later, in the height of summer season, the town of Zabljak is hopping. There’s people everywhere, lots of restaurants and bars, probably twice as many houses around here, and a general vibrant vibe that was completely absent during my previous visit. But despite the bustle in town, once we hiked past the popular Crno Jezero lake near the park entrance, the crowds quickly thinned. By the time we reached our first campsite we hadn’t seen anybody for hours. This range is small but there’s still plenty of opportunity to get away.
For the first mountain adventure of our Bosnia/Montenegro trip, Claudia and I went backpacking for two nights at Trnovacko Lake along the border of Bosnia and Montenegro. The lake itself is located on the Montenegro side of the border, but is only accessible via Sutjeska National Park on the Bosnian side. Sure enough, while we were camped there a warden came by to check our passports, which is kind of a novel thing to have happen while backpacking!
The heart-shaped, emerald-colored Trnovacko Lake provides a great base camp for hiking up Maglic (pronounced Mag-leech), the highest mountain of Bosnia — which we did, of course. From the summit we had a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and canyons, including the neighboring Durmitor mountains to the south (our next destination).
Last week we repeated a backpacking trip down into the Grand Canyon which we had done several years ago — a “lollipop” loop from the north rim down to Thunder River and Tapeats Creek, along the Colorado River, and up Deer Creek. When we hiked this route the first time back in November 2012, we did it in three days and it felt much too rushed and strenuous. But it was so impressive that we’ve been excited to return — this time with five days to relax and soak in the scenery.
Wetterhorn Peak stands above its surrounding basins like an ancient crumbling volcano. Rising to 14,015 feet, the pyramidal fourteener is not only one of the most photogenic mountains in Colorado, but its steep eastern face holds a classic ski descent that I’ve been wanting to snowboard for years. This last weekend I ventured out into the Uncompahgre Wilderness with a friend to hopefully ride and photograph this beautiful mountain. Continue reading “Wetterhorn Ski Mission”→
In November after our 20-day trek in the Khumbu/Everest region, we headed to the town of Pokhara to embark on yet another trek in the Himalaya — this time a short but strenuous 7-day trek to Annapurna Base Camp, also referred to as the ABC Trek or Annapurna Sanctuary Trek. At 8091m / 26545 ft., Annapurna is the tenth highest mountain in the world. The trek to its south base camp ascends the long and jungly Modi Khola gorge, finally reaching a high basin ringed by soaring peaks including, of course, Annapurna itself.
In October and November of this last year, Claudia and I fulfilled lifelong dreams to trek in the mighty Himalaya of Nepal – the world’s biggest mountains. We spent 20 days trekking the so-called “Three Pass Trek” over three high passes and through the four major valleys of the Khumbu/Everest region. Of course everybody knows about Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain, but often overlooked is the fact that Everest is just one of many other enormous, spectacular mountains in this range. It’s a dream destination for mountaineers and trekkers alike.
There are few things in life finer than soaking in natural hot springs, especially when those hot springs are situated at treeline in an alpine basin surrounded by high peaks and valley vistas! Such is the case at Conundrum Hot Springs, a remote but popular wild hot springs in the Elk Mountains between the towns of Aspen and Crested Butte in Colorado. Continue reading “Alpensoak”→
The lazy melancholy atmosphere of autumn has arrived in the high country… the tundra is golden brown, the air has a crisp edge, and the marmots have either burrowed into their holes or retreated to lower elevations. Yesterday we went out for a quick overnighter at Columbine Lake, in the San Juans of Colorado, to savor some time up high before the winter snows cover the tundra for another nine months.
The Wind River Range forms 110 miles of the Continental Divide in central Wyoming. Notable for its plethora of alpine lakes, its soaring granite walls, and some of the largest glaciers in the US Rockies, the Winds are a supremely majestic mountain range and a paradise for backpackers, climbers, and fishermen.
It’s been eight years since my last backpack treks in the Winds, and I’ve been excited to get back ever since. Last week Claudia and I went up there and did an eight-day, ~55 mile backpack trek through the southern portion of the range.
Earlier this week Claudia and I backpacked for 5 days in the mountains west of Silverton, Colorado, following an improvised route that took us through numerous high alpine basins filled with endless fields of wildflowers. With a weather forecast calling for lots of rain, we almost decided against this trip – but then I considered that bad weather usually equals good photos, so at the last minute we decided to go for it anyways. Although we did have our fair share of rain, we also witnessed some of the most spectacular scenes of the summer so far!