Winter sports in the Balkans
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 and winter sports in the Balkans are 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 Shar Mountain 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.
In general the popularity of freeride skiing and snowboarding as part of winter sports in 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 winter sports in 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.