Korab Traverse in Honor of the 1000-Year Anniversary of the Founding of Bigorski

These days, Bigorski was once again the place where a group of mountaineers arrived, who in honor of the great jubilee – 1000 years since the founding of the monastery, passed the Korab Traverse, thus nearly repeating the feat of their fellow mountaineers: Mario Šarevski, Maja Boškovska, and Vojkan Nedkovski, who about two weeks ago delighted our Elder and bishop Partenij, as well as our monastic brotherhood and sisterhood, conveying a beautiful message to the Macedonian public.

We have the honor, through the report of one of the participants, Zoran Todorovski, to fully convey this beautiful and exciting mountaineering endeavor:

“The idea for such a traverse was born last year and was realized. For the year 2020, we decided the traverse should also include the Dešat mountain, with the final point being the Bigorski Monastery ‘Saint John the Baptist’, on the occasion of the great jubilee – 1000 years since its founding.

A group of 11 mountaineers, wanting to contribute to the marking of this great jubilee, decided to embark on a venture across the Korab massif and the Dešat mountain.

Before the start of the march

July 15th was the date we agreed on to start this journey. So it was. The team unloaded at the tripoint between Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia. We loaded our heavy backpacks and set off. Our first goal was the peak Šerupa (2,092 MASL), located right at the tripoint. After 2.5 hours, we were at the very peak, where we took a short rest and continued towards Ziberova Kula peak (2,377 MASL), which we reached in 4 hours at an accelerated pace. While standing on this peak, you feel awe at the sight before you. At that moment, Korab shows all its beauty but also its harshness. There are no words that can truly describe the feelings you experience at those moments! Next was a descent from the peak into the valley, where next to a water source, we set up our first camp.

Peak “Ziberova Kula”

July 16th We woke up at 05:00 AM. The usual procedure of camp gathering, packing, and departing followed. The second day, we all knew would be more intense and much harder. A long path awaited us, about 20 km, but with many steep inclines and peaks to climb. First, we climbed Bel Vrv (2,532 MASL) entering the zone of 2,500 MASL. Bel Vrv is characterized by the fact that to conquer it, the last ten meters require technical solo climbing, hence it is not recommended for those who are inexperienced. The rocks in this part are very crumbly, which additionally complicates the climb. We arrived, took photos, and continued on. Next to Bel Vrv is Crna Čuka peak (2,572 MASL), which we also climbed. From the peak, the central part of the Korab Massif with all its peaks in this area could already be seen. Along the way, we climbed Korabec then Kepi Bard (2,589 MASL) and headed towards Kobilino Pole, which is below the highest peak in our country. After a short break, we headed towards the highest peak, which was climbed in the afternoon hours. Half of the day was gone, and we continued towards the pass Mala Korabska Vrata. The terrain towards this pass is really difficult and complex for movement, requiring great caution to avoid injuries! The heavy backpacks (17-18 kg) call for even greater caution. Passing through this pass, again an invaluable view. Before you stand the Korab peaks with all their impressiveness, mystique, and beauty that takes your breath away. Mal Korab (2,683 MASL) and the incredible Malokorabska Stena (2,732 MASL). After descending from Mal Korab, a change in the weather occurred, so due to the heavy rain, we were forced to set up camp right under the peak, on the meadow with an incredible green color. Thus, this day ended. The weather forecast did not promise much.

Peak “Bel Vrv”

July 17th We woke up early in the morning in low clouds, foggy and damp weather. But regardless, since we were deep in the wilderness, we continued on. We were lucky that the clouds gradually cleared away, allowing us to quickly progress towards our next goal – Boazi peak (2,495 MASL). Right before the peak – again fog that made it difficult for us to find it, but still, we managed thanks to modern technology. The path continued towards the beautiful Izgrevno Lake and towards Ciganski Pass. The weather improved, so conditions were created for part of the group to climb one of the most beautiful peaks of the Korab Massif – Derza peak (Jagotka) at 2,403 MASL. If you look carefully, the peak indeed resembles a raspberry.

Peak “Derza”

Derza is also difficult to climb due to the steep inclines before the very peak, and at the peak itself, there is room for three to four mountaineers. The next stop for us was the place Škrtеc and the water source. Škrtеc is the last place on the Korab Massif, so we had to transfer to the Dešat mountain and set up camp under Velivar peak. But then we were caught by heavy rain, which quickly soaked us to the skin, and in mutual agreement, we decided to skip the part of our journey on Dešat mountain and descend to the village of Žirovnica. The descent lasted 4 hours in heavy rain and storm. In the village, we were welcomed by the host at the mountaineering home Govedarnica. We dried off and spent the night to head towards our final point the next day – Saint John Bigorski Monastery.

Peak “Boazi”

July 18th We arrived at Saint John Bigorski Monastery, where we were warmly and lovingly welcomed by the monks. They gave us appropriate gifts and took us on a small tour of the monastic premises, and while drinking warm coffee, acquainted us with the entire history of the monastery. With hearts full of love and happiness, we left Bigorski, in whose honor we made this great feat, for which we are especially very satisfied.

Arrival at Saint John Bigorski Monastery

Distance covered: 43 km. D + 3635 m.

Great thanks to:

Milenka Šarović, Simona Trajkovska, Vasko Kičeski, Krume Jovovski, Boban Kitanovski, Deniz Mehmеd, Bogoljub Petrovski, Tiho Kačanaklievski, Kirčo Topukov, Saše Gacev.