About the trip
In late March we had the luck to find like-minded people, and push further in the mountain for steep and fresh lines. All of us absolutely love skiing, and working in the active segment of freeride and skitouring in Macedonia and the Balkan is a dream come true. But there is always the next line, the region further, the fresh white peaks that call to us. The great thing about Shar Mountain is that the massive terrain is mostly consisted of pastures, that gently rise up, and precisely that is in the foundation of the so-called Drive&Ride, the snow cat assisted ski touring. In fact, with this product, we use the snow cat to go deeper in the backcountry and approach closer our chosen lines. The usual day would look like this, early rise, breakfast. Sort the gear we need for the day, skis, split boards, skins, and crampons for the boots, crampons for skis, beeper, shovel, probe and backpack that has a good system for carrying skis/splitboards.
We take some slings and ropes, get in the snow cat and enjoy the drive. To access the far peaks it takes us about one hour from Popova Shapka, our current base.
On the second day of our tour with Stephane Pfeuty and his gang, we had in mind to try the area of Borislavec (Brustoec) peak, nested in the southeast area of Shar Mountain. The area has rarely been skied; we can only count several ski touring groups that have been on Brustoec, and even less that have tried any of the other peaks. We arrived to the ridge of Djini Beg and made a final decision to try the steep lines of Trpeznica peak. The ridgeline of Djini Beg peak 2610 masl, was sligtlhy wind effected, and we decided to boot pack to the peak. From there we skied down to the plateau of Trpeznica. Our snow cat and our driver Goce drove to the opposite ridge, so we can have a fine visual and be able to stay as safe as possible. We toured to the peak of Trpeznica 2590 masl, which looked from the far looks like a flat dining table, bringing its name.
Scouting the area we decided to ski down to the east facing couloars, which had obvious two entries. The main entry is wide and looked to be quite stable to ski. The other entry, we can easily call it the Swiss version, because Stephane and his group come from Switzerland, and it was he who was immediately affected by the looks of the narrow entry corridor. We descended to the entries of the lines. The wide one was fine, around 35-50 degree angle that was slightly more toward the mid-section. The narrow one was a straight line about 50 degree and around 3-4 meters wide. It went on for about 35 meters and then was taking a right turn in a wider north-facing gully.
The group split in two. Georgy, our friend and colleague from Bulgaria’s Free Mountain Association. He is one of the most experienced guides with IFMGA certification in the Balkans. Descended in the wide gully together with three of the clients. Stephane, the twins and me stayed above the narrow one. We prepared an anchor and Stephane abseiled down in the gully. The twins followed, and I stayed up to retrieve the equipment.
I had radio contact with the crew, and waited to hear that they all made it safely down. The snow in the narrow gully was great, powder almost all the way down. Adrenaline rushed, and I could hear the excitement in the voices bellow. I retrieved the equipment, and went up to the wide entrance. No place for mistake here. I was alone and it would take a long time for anybody to come to me if I made some mistake. Deep breath and I skied in. The snow was soft and gave good support. I could turn easily but with caution. In the middle part, I found some nice powder stash, and made the best turns I could. After the exit from the gully, I skied on nice 35 angle steep slope, with some sun-effected snow that was not the best. Although the whole area would be an amazing ski down with good conditions, excellent width, continuous angle and total backcountry. I joined the group, and we were all quite happy with the ride. Short brake and we started touring back. We passed some amazing terrain on the way back, and it gave us a fresh view of the area….so much more riding possible, so much hidden possibilities, and so much possible first descents.
We had another ski down to our Snow Cat. Sat in to enjoy the drive back to Popova Shapka and our Hotel Scardus, to enjoy a well-deserved beer. We contemplated on the fine day of ski touring and freeriding in Macedonia, and started to make the plans for the next days, with the magnificent Korab mountain awaiting.