Ascent of Maja e Valamares on 2016-09-13

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Maja e Valamares
    Elevation:7785 ft / 2372 m

Ascent Trip Report

After climbing Pelister in Macedonia, we 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.

Easily across border, exiting Macedonia they check car green card (we have arranged clearance for Albania); the Albania border guard just wants passports; we get them stamped.

Albania a very different feel to Macedonia, people everywhere on the streets, oddly frequent car-washes! Equally frequent petrol stations, often not co located. Brief stop at town en route for cash, ATM, very easy, wary of parking infringement we leave driver with car.

Turn L at Elbasan, very busy place, little shops, goats sheep and chickens penned at roadside - live meat for sale!

Continue along road to Gramsh, climbing up into mountains, nominally tarmac but a bit rough, steep and winding. We are misled by our paper map; best alternative is to stay in valley taking the 'minor' road (yellow on the Freytag & Bernt 1:150k map). Gramsh a bustling place, quick fruit stall stop. Obvious peak ahead is Maja e Tomorit 2416 p1449 a much more interesting looking peak than our target P1526 which is hidden away. Beyond tiny village of Kodovyat we cross a wide almost dry river bed (modern bridge) then leave tarmac road, taking 2nd left, on a stone road initially ok to drive but in time deteriorates and we need our high clearance and eventually, above Grabove e Poshtme, low range 4wd. At one point we drop a wheel into a drainage channel and are lucky that a local in a Landrover is able to tow us out. We make it to Grabove e Siperme, a quite large village considering how hard it is to reach, but with good fertile land.

We know from Petter Bjorstad's 2007 report there's a hotel above the village, but the remaining 0.5km of road is too difficult for our Suzuki Grand Vitara so we park in the village and walk the obvious track to the large mountain hut visible above village. This is known as Grabova Hotel: contact details we're later given: Todi Buso, tel 00355 686436978, cell but not sure if it is correct! Evidently the proper procedure is to phone ahead and book.

There's barely time to hike the peak this evening and we're unsure of the hotel arrangement. The village know we want to stay but when no one arrives we walk down. We find someone talking on a mobile phone and eventually, finding someone who speaks a little German (no one has any English), we learn the hotel key keeper is away in the city. However we agree we'll camp outside the hotel and they kindly offer to bring up some food and beers later.

Almost dusk when our friends finally arrive, with food and news the hut key's now available. In fact they break in, but no evident damage and we enjoy food, beer and especially raki. Chat mostly via Karen who has reasonable German and good Italian.

Next morning we leave 0630 with hut guardian who takes us partway to show us route (before returning to the village to take a school class). Petter Bjorstad's 2007 report describes lower route which initially follows L side of river before climbing steeply. We take higher route, initially climbing up L to reach main mule trail from village; we turn R on this and follow it gently uphill. Pass small stream (water source) then just before first side valley on L the main trail zigzags steeply up L before levelling off near top edge of forest and boulder hopping across large stream. Trail climbs rocky grassland, curving R to gain ridge which is then followed L, continues grassy to little rocky summit ridge.

Barely a cairn but a fine view down over small lakes to nearby summits and ridges, too hazy for distant views. The distinctive 'broken mountain' above village clearly visible. Up in 2h30, I jog down in an hour as hut guardian is to meet us at 1030 so we can retrieve our gear from hut. He was insistent we shouldn't leave them outside although stated reason 'vulpi' (wolves) seemed unlikely, at least in daytime (maybe means sheepdogs). Notable though that cows and sheep are taken down off hills at night. As I descend, the cattle are coming up trail, I love how they stand aside, sensible well trained cattle!

We have a beer in the sunshine with the hut guardian then drive back out to the main road, this time uneventfully. Then longish drive to Tepelene where we meet Adrian and Ayako and plan tomorrow's ascent which will hopefully be Nemercka.

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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