Ascent of Pelister Vrh on 2016-09-11

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Sunday, September 11, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pelister Vrh
    Location:North Macedonia
    Elevation:8533 ft / 2600 m

Ascent Trip Report

Straightforward ascent from NE on good trails, YDS 1 by easiest route, easy scrambling YDS 2+ on NE ridge. OpenStreetMap shows most trails and summits, also town streets. 5h up, 4hr down. See 24 Sept report for summary of routes.

With Richard and Karen, flew Luton - Skopje, collected SUV rental from Sixt with cross-bordering (green card) prearranged for Albania. Skopje a good venue with cheap WizzAir flights and ability to rent cars into Albania and Bulgaria - which is trickier than might be expected.

2.5 hour drive to Bitola which is at the foot of the peak, Hostel Domestika xxxx a good budget choice with friendly owner, decent wifi and short walk into nice city centre, enlivened this evening with colourful festival, some complex choreography.

Next morning 1hr drive to northeast trailhead xxxx Hotel Molika. The alternative route starts at the sharp bend below, xxxx, slightly longer but easier terrain and would be quicker. The locals drive the track to shorten this route by several km.

From the Hotel Molika we continue hiking the gated continuation of the road, soon forking right at info board onto a good trail, well marked with red and white paint, roundels or occasionally bars; also small blue Rocky Trail signs. Even so there are 2 places where it's easy to go wrong; at top of ski lift (ruined Kopanki mountain hut) the trail is signed L just before the ruin (turning R here descends gently 130m to tourist trail); it traverses for a while then a slightly obscure turn R before a double stream crossing, marked by a faded blue sign xxxx. We missed this, as did Petter Bjorstad according to his 2013 description.

From the R turn the trail zigzags up thru steep pine forest (colourful fungi, a few flowers) to emerge at a wooden viewing platform. From here the trail ascends the rocky NE ridge which is quite long with a lot of easy bouldery scrambling, some exposed bits are cable protected. It is well marked with red roundels; we're following a local hiker, one of only two seen all day. Trail leads to the rocky summit Stiv 2468m P70m then we are soon on easier rocky terrain with view of Pelister beyond another sub peak Ilinden 2542 p15m. We meet the local climber who ascended ahead of us; also one who has come up the easier route from the N; both speak English; we ask about routes.

Trail leads easily to Pelister summit which seems to be ground S side of ugly comms building xxxx but could be cairn at xxxx (memorial to first Macedonian who summitted Everest, sadly died on descent), or bump midway xxxx.

Soon head down, initially the way we came, to first col xxxx where a small wooden post marks an obvious trail junction where we turn L (N). Locals we met here earlier both confirmed this leads back to Hotel Molika, and is an easy trail, likely quicker than scrambling down the ridge we came up.

Stony zigzags lead down to a boggy stream crossing; trail exits obliquely L and is obvious once relocated, red and white paint marked, zigzagging down into forest, quite a few shortcuts, trending N to eventually join a vehicle track which serves the summit buildings. Several locals' vehicles parked, track driveable with car and gate at road is open with padlock seized. So we could have driven in and gone up and down the tourist route, much quicker but less interesting than our round trip hike. Nice water source beside track - spring out of boulder field.

Back at paved road we turn R and a 0.7km hike with 100m of ascent leads back to our Hotel Molika trailhead. Brief unsuccessful attempt to get takeaway coffee from hotel, then we drive west thru Ohrid towards Albania. Spend night in Struga, a few km before Albania border. Hotel Royal xxxx just W of town centre a comfortable budget stay with good wifi and breakfast. Odd town with a lot of new buildings, nice lakeside location but no tourists to be seen; drizzly evening.

2 weeks later I get to climb the peak again, this time descending the Rocky Trail, good fun if you like boulder hopping.

Pelister photos:
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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