About the Balkans
Balkan is the perfect region to visit for those who are always hungry for new backcountry adventures, freeride skiing & snowboarding or mountaineering. The ski freeride in the Balkans is becoming more and more popular for the locals but also for the people all over the world. Ski touring & splitboarding in the Balkans is quite interesting because region is covered by mountain ranges running from the northwest to southeast. When it comes to freeriding in totally remote areas the mountains in Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Montenegro are the ones you should visit. Shar mountain is spreading thru Macedonia, Kosovo & Albania and it is the biggest mountain massif in the central Balkan area. Together with Korab mountain and the Albanian Alps they are the sanctuaries of the local freeriders. This mountains with their shape are perfect for cat skiing and ski touring and they give the opportunity for amazing extreme skiing. From riding steep couloirs , visiting the highest peaks ( Titov Peak – Shar Mountain 2747m ), ( Golem Korab Peak on Korab mountain – 2764m ), ( Gjeravica Peak – Albanian Alps – Prokletije – 2656m ) and more. Skiing down long lines thru wide open oval faces. Riding playful forest to touring thru villages and sheep farms & exploring the different traditions and culture of the region while experiencing the force of the nature. The main points to start the adventures are few places on the mountains which some of them are local Ski centers / villages. When it comes to Freeride in Bulgaria, Pirin and Rila mountains are ones you should visit. Musala ( 2925 ) is situated in Rila National Park and it the highest peak in whole Balkan peninsula.
Popova Shapka in Macedonia
Popova Shapka is a ski resort on Shar mountain which is the most used mountain when it comes to ski touring in Macedonia and it’s located above the town of Tetovo. Easy reachable by car ( only 1h drive from Skopje – Capital of Macedonia ) and hour and a half from Skopje Airport. The local peaks around Popova Shapka ( Ceripashina 2450m, Karabunar 2600m, Blue Peak 2500 ) are great for daily backcountry skiing. Popova Shapka is also the starting point when it comes to reaching the highest peak on Shar Mountain ( Titov Peak ) while passing thru Bakrdan 2704m and Karabunar 2600m. The skiing down from Titov Peak to the Lesnica region will give you the feeling of extreme loneliness and inner peace. Popova Shapka has one mountain hut and few hotels where you can find good accommodation. One of them is Hotel Scardus ( new hotel with nice spa & food ). Also the ski resort of Popova Shapka is great for off piste skiing, wide open face which gives you many opportunities.
Brezovica in Kosovo
Other starting point is the ski center of Brezovica which is located in the Kosovo part of Shar mountain and same as Popova Shapka is easy reachable by car from Skopje airport and Pristina airport with a 1h drive. Located on 1650m it is the popular place for Freeride in Kosovo and its perfect starting point for going to the backcountry wilderness. From here there are multiple options for touring, some recommendations are touring to the peaks of Piribeg and Crn Kamen. Ski touring in Kosovo is also great because from here you can reach quite nice peaks on Shar mountain. One of them is the peak of Ljuboten ( 2498m) which is the northest peak on Sharmountain and it can be approached from both, Macedonian and Kosovo site.
Rila mountain in Bulgaria
Ski touring in Bulgaria is quite popular. Rila and Pirin mountains have a lot of mountain huts and its great for multiple day ski touring, splitboarding and snowshoeing activities with licences guides. Popular ski resorts are Bansko ski resort on Pirin and Borovets ski resort on Rila mountain. They are good for piste riding but there is also great off piste skiing around them.Both are only couple of hours driving from Sofia Airport.
Valbona valley in Albania
In Albania you can find Valbone Valley National Park which is part of the Albanian Alps in North Albania. The Albanian Alps are one of the most impressive and notable topographic features of Albania. Being the southernmost continuation of the Dinaric Alps. The Albanian site of Korab mountain gives plenty of opportunities for ski touring in Albania.
Winter freeride in the Balkans
The ski resorts in Popova Shapka in Macedonia and Brezovca in Kosovo offer great opportunity for daily ski touring and freering, the surrounding peaks require moderate experience in doing backcountry skiing / snowboarding and on a good weather conditions which this mountains has during mid February to end of March and mid April it gives opportunity in one day to tour up and ski down several peaks with altitude more than 2500m.
When it comes to going further into the sacred depths of the mountain you will need to think more to the logistics because of the loneliness of the mountain. There are no Mountain huts nor Villages in the depths of the mountain where you can sleep over, so if you are planning multiple day adventure with ambition to climb up and ski down the true gems of the mountain you will need to sleep over in a tent or make a shelter out of the snow.
Hidden treasures of Macedonia
Other interesting mountains in Macedonia to visit for your powder freeride or snowshoeing experience are the mountains of Jablanica & Baba mountain with the peak Pelister (2601) which is part of Pelister national park. Korab mountain is the paradise for ski touring & splitboarding. One of the most remote places on the balkans holds great potential for ski touring. The highest peak Golem Korab (2764) is the highest peak in Macedonia and Albania. Sharoutdoor guides provide tours where you can hike up from one side (country) & ski down to the other side ( country ). There are also other interesting ski touring & mountaineering routes which demand crossing from one country to another. Just south of Korab lays the pearl of the Macedonian mountains when it comes to landscapes, wildlife and macedonian village tradition & culture. Bistra mountain is not that high like Shar and Korab but there you can find Mavrovo National Park together with the ski center Zare Lazarevski. Bistra mountain holds nice opportunity if you want to spend your holiday with combination of easy going touring or mountaineering mixed with visiting different villages and experiencing macedonian tradition and culture. In the southeastern part of Macedonia between Ohrid & Prespa Lakes you will find the mountain of Galicica with the Galicica National Park. Galicica is a good destination if you want to visit the town of Ohrid and the local villages and in same time doing some outdoor activities. The peak Magaro is only 2255m high but will give you amazing view over both lakes.
About the team
Based on Popova Shapka, the team of Sharoutdoors guided by the everlasting respect and love of the nature are here to guide you thru your adventures. They provide guided freeride tours, ski holidays & ski touring holidays in Macedonia, Albania, Greece, Kosovo, Bulgaria & Montenegro. Their team of guides are always willing to show you the secret places and to make your ski freeride experience both fun and safe. From daily ski touring guiding and full service packages offers to multiple day adventures thru the mountain with combination of touring and use of a snowcat for more effective approach to the remote areas. The use of the snowcat is great to reach vast places which are far from the ski centers & villages but being there and skiing down this areas gives this special feeling of satisfaction and admire. They also provide snowcat skiing in Macedonia ( Popova Shapka ). Also they are collaborating with the other snowcat operations which are in the region like Dane Brezovica ( Kosovo ) and Lynx Freeride in Albania based on Prokletije ( Accursed Mountains ). Cat skiing in the Balkans is becoming more and more attractive because the shape of the mountains allows the snowcat to climb peaks and thru reages to cover huge areas that are perfect for powder skiing.
In general the popularity of freeride skiing and snowboarding on the Balkans is growing because of the huge untouched area waiting to be explored.
Pack your equipment and get ready for amazing free riding, speechless scenery, delicious food and the warm hospitality of the locals.
If you are willing to experience something new, to shred powder on places only dozens has ever been, taste delicious local food and feel the warm hospitality of the local people. The Balkans are waiting for you. Explore the mountain ranges in Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Montenegro while Ski touring / Splitboarding or book you seat in the snowcat of one of the snowcat operations running there. Guided tours can be booked thru Sharoutdoors agency which has many offers, but also they provide custom made tours based on your needs.The Balkan is full of mountains which are remote powder bombs waiting to explode.