image1 image2 image3 image4 image5 image6 image7
logo

50 shades of mountain...

While looking at the street lights through a window I remember how I as a boy, some twenty years ago, used to impatiently wait for the large rain drops to become first snowflakes… They used to announce dropping of the white curtain which makes all the city noise disappear… Today, I go to the mountains in search for that feeling, to feel the silence and snowflakes falling on my face, the life which happens with full intensity for us who give up the warmth for the freedom and unpredictability of the next moment…

While packing my backpack and listening to The Doors, in my thoughts I am already in my world… It is always located beyond the hills, clouds and ephemerality of the thing we call reality.

IMG 0068

Once again, I think about whether I should take my camera with me or not…

The backpack is already too heavy, leave it at home…

But I know that somewhere there are people who share my thoughts, and I want to share the moments that are only mine with them…

.............

History repeats the night before the ascent… I lie in bed and the thoughts of snowflakes disrupt my sleep I delay every half an hour… I saw the wall clock for the last time somewhere around 3.30 am, I guess I fell asleep soon after.

I enjoy the warmth of bed for a short time because the wake-up call starts at 6 am… While trying to find my phone in the bed to snooze the alarm, I’m trying to remember the path I need to take… It is very dark outside and cold out of bed…

I listen to good Jimmy’s All Along the Watchtower, get dressed and leave the house…

 

IMG 2633

I pick up Slaven at 7.15 and together we continue to Kuči mountains…  The recent snow narrowed the choice for peaks due to local road impassibility. I can always set off on a journey to the unknown with Slaven, because we always get somewhere in the end… Even if we get only halfway, we make the best of it. It’s snowing at Medun, we leave the city behind us and continue to Kržanji… There’s ice on the road, I drive slowly…

IMG 0077

They told us the road was clear to Kržanja, which meant that we could only go to Žijevo, but we wanted to go to Treskavac instead and it just had to be done. We get to Kržanje, the car spins on ice while entering the bends, and my only wish is to come closer to it… Fortunately, a snow blower passed this way the day before so the road was clear to Gornje Stravče! We park the car and prepare ourselves to move start the adventure.

It is -9˚C outside.

IMG 0085

In the distant 2012, I started ascending the peak with my best man from the very same place, which later turned out to be a very long adventure. Now we are hoping the snow is better, especially because we didn’t take snowshoes with us.

I remember saying I would never do such a thing again back then, but we never know where the thoughts and wishes, along with the thing we call destiny, will take us.

So, here I am once again, on the road to Treskavac.

G0010676

We follow the local road and power lines, and the first shortcut brings deep and soft snow, just like we needed it today. 

This road leads down the slopes of Treskavac to Bukumirsko lake or further to Mokra and Veruša. It’s passable to all types of vehicles when there is no snow.

We are aware that there is a long road to the peak ahead of us, but we still give ourselves a chance to succeed.

IMG 0087

We always take a break at this place in order to admire the view of peaks to our right – Žijevo, the peak which bears the name of the massif known as Kuči mountains, Šila and Treskavac to our left, which is our destination today. The weather started changing, and the mountain started showing its real face… We forget about the clear sky at a certain moment and become a part of a new reality, the one considered to be vanished with the “advancement of civilization”. The cloud is getting down and we are becoming so small in comparison to the mountain. Our plans stay behind the cloud, the cold takes away our thoughts and we remain naked with only things we carry inside of ourselves and a wish to get as far as possible.

IMG 0090

We follow the road above Kastrat katun where the path for the ascent to Šila begins. Once a beautiful path is now attractive only snow-covered, because the fire which broke out a few years ago destroyed old trees, leaving ashes and causing landslides.

The peak Treskavac, deep in the clouds, became visible in front of us.

G0030691

G0040697

We walk quite slow through snow to the south slopes of Treskavac, aware of the fact that we should’ve been here much earlier. It’s snowing hard and our feet sink through the snow under us so we move on very slowly.

G0060712

IMG 0110

We follow down the south side and snow covered road, and the goal is Guzevalja katun, which is the starting point for the ascent to our peak, as well as for Surdup and Štitan peaks. We take a short meal break by the first house we came across and leave the things we won’t need for the ascent. During this short period of time our frostbitten toes begin to hurt and for the first time in my life my fingers are completely numb. Our gloves are completely frozen so I put my hands along my body in order to move on… It’s late… We need to ascent the peak immediately so we could return to katun before dark… The summer zigzag path leads right from katun to a pass, and therefrom it takes you around 20 minutes to get to the peak. We didn’t have enough time for that.

IMG 0137

We go directly to the peak from the first house. We made a new path through snow at the beginning and very soon the snow becomes hard and we need crampons. We ascend relatively quickly and enter a steep slope. The only thing we are thinking about is getting to the summit.

Slaven tells me to turn around and look at the Sun breaking through clouds above the mountain behind us… What a magical sight… What looks like a monotonous mountain in summer, now snow covered shows all its features… It looks so strong yet quiet… I see it as a sleeping secret which brings back memories of old times and reminds us of the ephemerality of everything around us…

G0100730

We continue uphill… I stab an ace axe into hard snow and see only a narrow field in front of myself, trying not to think about frostbitten fingers and the fact that it’s slowly getting dark…

G0070720

I left my camera in the katun, and the battery of Slaven’s phone is dead… We get to the rocks where the slope becomes narrower, Slaven chooses his own way and I choose mine…

I’m really tired and sleepy…

G0110735

We need to pass ice covered rocks on top of which there is around 30 cm of very bad snow. Slaven is above me, I’m trying to find an alternative road and go right. I’m halfway across the rock in soft snow and realize that my only prop is the ice axe I stabbed into rock, and my legs are barely trouching it. While we were progressing further we didn’t pay attention to the inclination which requires the use of rope in these conditions and I realized I should somehow ascent this part in order to get down to an area covered with hard snow where I can get some rest. I can no longer hear or see Slaven, but I know he’s above me and that there is a rock separating us.

After a while, I hear his voice, but the words he’s saying sound too indistinctive… I realize he’s telling me to turn on the radio station. I draw myself close to the rock trying to take off my backpack to get it. I hold the station with my frostbitten hand and talk to Slaven… I am feeling nervous. I want to tell him to go back so we could get down. We set our stations for the repeater on top of Lovćen and I soon hear Slaven talking. I realize he doesn’t hear me because I am behind the rock which blocks the signal…

I cannot feel my hands anymore, I yell so he could hear me and start descending, and then I hear a female voice coming from a warm room, saying hello and introducing as Ema…

God damn it… But then I hear Slaven yelling and telling me to switch to simplex and repeating numbers… Finally! He tells me he’s coming down and asks me to wait for him… I’m feeling nervous because it’s getting dark and a fog is coming down… Crazy thoughts started coming into my mind that we should come down a little lower and go around and try to get to the top… But we first had to come down from the rock to the snow covered area… I focus on my every move and slowly descent the rock while the snow slides down and then I realize how steep it is… In moments which seemed eternal to me I found myself standing on hard snow trying to get some rest while waiting for Slaven…

He finally shows up and the only thing I want in this moment is to get down to the katun because I cannot feel my hands anymore…

It’s getting really dark and we are finally getting to the bottom of the mountain… We take the stuff we left there and go back to the car… The paths we made in snow earlier were now covered with new snow so the story repeats itself on our way back…

I turn on my headlamp and walk mechanically, I’ve lost all my strength but I know we must go to the end. We are all alone in the mountain, and the only thing that we can hear is the sound of snowflakes falling on our jackets… I focus my eyes to the beam of light in front of me and for the first time in my life I start noticing surreal shapes of snowflakes… They fall on my jacket and shine under the light, merging together and thus creating a magical cover moving us to a world of dreams…

We get to the road and go unwillingly to the car… We turn around to see Treskavac and enjoy the beautiful sight of Moon we barely even notice daily… The clouds allow us to see it shortly while it draws silhouettes of the frozen landscape… Just like in a dream…

IMG 0144

The car is right where we left it 11 hours ago, but the temperature fell to -14. We change clothes in the cold air, clear the car windows and try to warm up… There is ice and snow on the road, Slaven demonstrates an instant installment of car snow chains and we head to Podgorica where we arrived to 10 hours later…

We leave the mountain behind us, keeping it to ourselves as a dream changing reality and carrying a part of it deep within ourselves which puts a smile on our faces every time someone asks us why the hell we enjoy this…

 

 

It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. Right? And this bag was just dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in.

- American beauty

2020  Radonja Srdanović - Mountain guide