TGR Hits The Former Yugoslavia
By | March 28th, 2011
After skiing in Croatia last year and filming for Light the Wick we realized that we had just barley touched the edge of what the Balkan region has to offer. Subsequent to meeting us and seeing what TGR is all about, our now close friends and European travel guides told us that some of the other countries near by had bigger mountains that would better suit our needs. After a culturally colorful experience in Croatia and with the drive to always be exploring new off the grid ski locations we decided to head back to the area and go deep into the former Yugoslavia.
We started our trip in Zagreb, Croatia where the crew consisting of myself, Dylan Hood, Erik Roner, and camera crew met up with our native Croatian friends who were waiting for us with fat smiles, open arms, and their two rigs in which we would be country hopping in for the next 20 days. A few of the boy’s bags didn’t make it through so we were able to enjoy a few nights driving down the coast to intercept the luggage in beautiful Dubrovnik. It was a delight to be able to eat fresh oysters and other extravagant seafood while we let the snow pile up in the mountains of our next destination; Montenegro.
As we left Croatia and headed into Bosnia the rain really started to come down. We then pushed through part of Serbia and into Montenegro where we began to wind up skinny mountain roads through the hills and slowly into the mountains. It was very dark and when the rain gradually turned to snow we knew we were getting closer to the part of the trip we were all anticipating. The next morning we woke up to what seemed to be about a foot of snow in the wobbly little town of Zabjak. We made our way to the hill to find some old rickety chairs going up into a dense foggy storm. It was great to ski around in the dark and feel freshies under our feet. With the snow stacking up and the crust layer below we then realized the avi danger was high. We kicked off multiple slides while skiing around the base of these new mountains. After realizing that the people running the resort had no intentions of opening the upper lift , we cashed in our chips and decided to take our chances at the next resort which was only a quick three hours away.
It was hard to know if we left something good behind because the mountains were so big. It stormed the next few days and we skied pow into the fog filled trees. When the storm finally opened up and the sun came out we were able to put an eye on the mountains of Montenegro. It was cool to see that there are enormous mountains with a lot of potential for making sick shit go down. We spent the day doing everything we could see with in a reasonable walk or traversing distance from the top chair of the resort in Kolasin. Knowing that we had seen real mountains, we left the town on the premise that a heli was coming to pick us up the next day in the coastal city of Budva. Moral was high amongst the boys, we skied our first blue day and the weather was looking good for our up coming fly day. Due to technical reasons with the helicopter, language barrier, and all around lack of communication, we were forced to shut it down and move on. I was really bummed out and was blindly resilient to push a round peg into a square socket. Dylan Hood being the voice of reason, was trying to explain the improbability of us getting our wish of heli skiing in Montenegro. I told him “don’t be a negative Nancy” he then turned with authority and said “I’m not, I’m just being realistic Rick.” Realistic Rick put me in my place just as he has many times before and within the hour we again found our selves enjoying a sunny day on the Adriatic Sea drinking champagne at the Hotel Splendid.
We packed our bags for the 5th time in 10 days and prepped our selves for what we were told would be a 7 hour drive on the worst roads in Europe. 12 hours later after driving through Montenegro, the corner of Serbia, and all the way through Kosovo we arrived in our destination country of Macedonia. Upon our arrival we planned to go cat and heli skiing at Eskimo Freeride. Day one and two of Macedonia were totally socked in and all the terrain we wanted to get to was above tree line. We skied some free laps but for the most part it was nearly impossible to see anything. The weather was calling for a clear morning so we decided to do a sunrise cat mission. That turned out to be a gorgeous morning and we got to ski some decent lines for the first time in what felt like a month. We had been promised a helicopter multiple times on our trip and still hadn’t seen a sip of heli fuel burned. By the last day we had given up our grandeurs of aerial exploration and were now ready to start our multi day trek back to Zagreb. At the moment we had made our decision to head out was when we got the call that a heli would be arriving in twenty minutes. We all looked at each other in awe and said, “well, I guess we better suit up!” We rolled into the parking lot where the bird was waiting and saw two cops and a gigantic police helicopter. This time there was no crying wolf and we actually were able to put skis on with camera gear and get’r done. I laughed my way through that afternoon as we flew around and got dropped off on un-skied faces with two officers of the law in a marked vehicle. That day we ended our trip as the first people to ever heli-ski in Macedonia. Translation = “Winning!”
In this post: Dylan Hood Dash Longe Location: Europe Film: One For The Road Keywords: Premium Content Teton Gravity Research Featured Ski Athlete Blog