Trip Report Cat Ski Montenegro - Kolasin

Discussion in 'Europe' started by seefarr, Mar 21, 2017.

  1. seefarr

    seefarr Active Member

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    This year we went on a cat skiing trip to Montenegro because who else do you know that's been to Montenegro? The company that runs it is called Freeriders Montenegro:

    http://freeriders.me/

    Unfortunately, 2017 has been a really poor snow season all through Europe, so our trip was rescheduled from early Feb to early March due to a lack of snow. We flew into the capital Podgorica direct from Stanstead airport (UK) on some really cheap RyanAir flights not knowing what conditions we were going to get. The airport was quite new with some of the vehicles less so:

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    We were picked up from the airport and dumped at a shopping mall in town and were told that the guy would be back in 4.5 hours to collect us as there was another airport pickup to make. We had a very long lunch and some beers whilst everyone around us was smoking in the shopping mall(!). And then we took photos of taxis:

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    The drive up the winding canyon roads in the dark was completed in 1:30hr without anyone getting too sick. The accommodation was in chalets here and really high quality:

    http://chalet-montenegro.com/

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    We were shown through the wood-fired sauna and swimming pool and were greeted in our chalet by a huge 3 course home cooked meal brought in which was pretty tasty even though nobody was hungry. Despite there not being snow on the ground where we were staying (~1000m) we were assured that there was snow up high. We caught a taxi into town and had him wait for us (€3) whilst we did a shop for the essentials. Like an €8 bottle of plum brandy and 2L of beer for €1.50:

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    Breakfast was huge - fruit, yogurt, burek (a sausage roll the size of a dinner plate) and strudel:

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    View outside from the breakfast table: [​IMG]

    At the same time they delivered our lunches in plastic bags - a sandwich the size of my head, fruit, juice and a chocolate bar. We got a choice of breakfast and lunch each day but dinner was fixed.

    It was raining outside so we were in high hopes that this would be snow further up. The 15 minute drive up to the mountain was behind the snow plow, which was clearing a good 10cm of snow off the road by the time we made it to the cat. It was parked just outside the Kolasin 1450 resort and consisted of a Pistenbully with an ex-military cabin on the back.

    [​IMG]

    We met up with our guide Zeljko our guide (we had been told we would have a second guide, but that didn't happen). When we booked we had informed them that the other two guys I was with didn't have any avalanche gear and were told it would be provided. At this point we found out that this wasn't the case. Zeljko gave a beacon to one of the guys but neither had shovels and probes. There was no safety briefing but he did check beacons were working that first day. One of the German guys lent the other guy a spare analogue beacon that he had brought the next day. We never saw anyone digging a pit but the snowpack was very stable. We had a couple of quick goes at stability testing through the week but we were generally on fairly low-angle terrain anyway.

    We had no where to put the lunch bags in the cat so we just hung them on whatever hooks we could find inside. They gradually exploded their contents over the interior as the they swung around which was a bit disappointing. We ended up double bagging them the next day which mitigated the problem somewhat. It was a bumpy first 20 minute ride along a rocky path but the next hour to the top was as smooth as I guess these things ever get.

    Up the top it was windy and cloudy which was to be the theme of the whole week. The southerly wind was scouring the face we were due to ride pretty well so we stuck to small culoirs which held windblown powder. We were told all the best riding is on the North faces because of the prevailing wind but that the cat can't access them.

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    The run itself was only about 800m and ended in a summer holiday village before the 20 minute run back to the ridge:

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    We ended up doing about 7 runs the first day. The next day was more of the same but included some fun little gullies with trees with snow falling the whole time. Waiting for a pickup here with the resort in background:

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    On the third day, we were taken to the resort to ride. Kolasin 1450 goes up to 1850m and during the week they run one lift and a tow on the bunny slope. After some more fresh snow and 5 other people (all learners) on the mountain besides our group we had essentially a private ski resort with a lot of terrain through some well spaced trees. It was clear nobody had been riding off piste for the last 2 days!

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    For days 4 and 5 we went back in the cat riding the same faces as the first two days. We were told that they had another zone that they can ride ordinarily but it requires a lot of snow to fill in so it just wasn't in good enough condition this season. Conditions were warm and slushy on day 4 but we still had a lot of fun. We dropped a nice wind lip a few times until I went very large and had a big tomahawk when the nose of my board dug in on the run out and ended up breaking the ankle strap on my bindings! I rode the last two runs with a Lonsdale knee brace doing service for the strap which worked surprisingly well. One of the German guys had a nosedive-to-tomahawk moment too but he got nailed by his riding buddy and injured his neck, so he sat out the next day.

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    Day 5 was cold, windy and snowy again. One of the guides lent me some bindings for the last couple of days. The slush with our deep canoe tracks had frozen to lumpy concrete so the first run was very uncomfortable. As more snow fell, it covered up the sins of the day before but we were all pretty happy at the end of the last run. Ice beard with ice pipe:

    [​IMG]

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    TBC...
     
  2. seefarr

    seefarr Active Member

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    Snow kept falling that night all the way down to the village so for the last day (Saturday) we ended up back in the resort. There were a few more people around but never a crowd - some were even riding off piste under the lifts. They were still only running the one lift - our guide suggested because conditions on the other side were dangerous. The resort was more wind effected that day so 15cm deep powder would sometimes give way to 1cm of dust on crust but the trick was you couldn't see where the transition would happen. It kept hammering down with snow that day though so it ended up really nice. We had a different guide (Dragan) who didn't know the off piste as well and we ended up hiking out of a few spots and bush bashing across a couple of creeks but it was still a great day riding with some lovely light snow.

    Hiking out of a run:
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    Hiking up to a run
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    The material we received when we booked said we would be eating in town every night (all meals were included) but we ended up getting food delivered every day at 6pm. These were more home cooked, 3 course weals and were always huge and generally delicious. The last night's dinner was soup followed by a whole fried trout (or similar), sausage, bacon steak and pork loin with cabbage and courgette. And then dessert

    [​IMG]

    Not going out to town every night was a bit of a shame and after eating such a vast quantity we never felt like going out afterwards. We did go to a pub in town on Wednesday night but we were the only customers! We were taken out for dinner on Friday by some Lithuanians who were also riding with us (who paid for a delicious dinner and the wine and wouldn't accept any money) and they took us to a club afterwards which was loud, smoky and packed but I understand it's pretty dead every night but Friday and Saturday.

    The drive back to Podgorica in daylight was through a beautiful canyon.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Was it good value at €250 /day? I feel like I spent pretty much the same amount for my week in Switzerland at Zermatt this year (30CHF burger anyone?) so it wasn't terrible value given that everything was included. Over the week we spent less than €100 on beer and snacks and tipped the guides €50 and that was it. The days in the resort should give us a 35% discount but we are still in discussions about that...

    How do I feel about the trip overall? The snow conditions were terrible all through Europe but we got a lot of snow over the course of the week. Only having half of the terrain open to the cat was a bummer. But at the end of the day it was a crazy adventure with friends and powder and it doesn't get much better than that!
     
  3. Heinz

    Heinz Old And Crusty
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    A bit different from Iwate then?
     
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  4. seefarr

    seefarr Active Member

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    Hey Heinz! It was a bit different but then again, powder filled tree runs at a small, empty resort felt somehow very familiar...
     
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  5. benchives

    benchives Part of the Furniture
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    Fantastic thank you for posting this
     
  6. Kletterer

    Kletterer Addicted Member
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  7. person s

    person s Old And Crusty
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    probably more than you think
    I drove through there in late Spring 1976, from Greece via Skopje and down through the mountains to then-Titograd, now-Podgorica
    I recall being extremely impressed with the steepness of the mountains, and especially the snow covers on the roads
    great report!
    I like a story with great food
     
  8. Mike Pow

    Mike Pow Dedicated Member

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    Great TR. Thanks.

    Shame you didn't get the goods at Kolasin. It's a great little resort with nobody skiing it.

    I toured above the lift when I was there and there's some magic terrain



    Also Savin Kuk a few hours north is another great place

     
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  9. seefarr

    seefarr Active Member

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    Thanks guys. :)

    Different food is half the reason I go travelling!

    Thanks Mike. It was your TR that convinced me to go. :cheers:
     
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