Ascent to Nemerçka-Summit ridge on 2016-09-14

Climber: Rob Woodall

Date:Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Point Reached:Nemerçka - Summit ridge
    Elevation:7382 ft / 2250 m
    Remaining Elevation:761 ft / 231 m (9% left to go)

Ascent Trip Report

After a fairly long drive from Valamares the day before, we started a bit too late from Tepelene and didn't quite have time to summit, but the experience of the summit ridge was very impressive, not to mention the infamous sheep dogs!

Tepelene has 2 petrol stations on main road, each with a hotel, one with a restaurant, so is a useful base. As per Petter Bjorstad's 2013 description we drove south through Gjirokaster and drove the reasonable unmade road (4wd advisable, rough and muddy in a few places) via Suhe, through the dramatic gorge to Polican and Skore, but we drove a little further S from Petter's start point, taking the Mclellans' 2011 route from road highpoint 0.5 km before (N of) Skopic, which seems to have fewer sheep dog issues (but is a little longer). A small trail soon joins a good mule trail which follows a low ridge then zigzags up onto a broad spur with large cairns. Here was a flock of sheep with several dogs (they apparently keep to the higher ground at this time of year before the snows start to arrive). The shepherd was in control but even so two dogs approached fairly closely, barking at us. We skirted L of the flock and felt in no serious danger but we were glad to get above them. Black clouds and thunder so we ascended a reentrant while the storm moved away R, then climbed up L towards the summit. Suddenly reached a clifftop with a huge drop to the R, extremely impressive. The clouds cleared further revealing the summit. We were separated from it by a steep notch then a steep climb, not technical as the Mclellans subsequently confirmed, but needing more time than we had available; also there was still thunder rumbling around the summit and a couple of sheep dogs were telling us we ought to leave.

Reluctantly we headed back down with an extra diversion to avoid a sheep flock before getting back to the tall cairns which marked the top of our mule track which we followed back down. Back at car by 5pm with 2 hours daylight, just enough to get back to the paved highway. Then back to our Tepelene hotel. This being Albania there is evidently no restaurant in Tepelene other than the small one at our hotel so we head back down the road 10km to find one. Then north next day for the Korab trailhead.

Alternative approaches for Nemercka would be the same trailhead from the south ie from Greece, which OpenStreetMap suggests ought to be feasible, or a potentially longer hike from N, with a good looking track coming from Gjinakar above Pemet (but possibly scrambling /climbing involved?).

23 Sept, Pete Ellis and I try to access Sopik from the Greek side. Looks v promising with excellent road approach. However, border policeman explains no vehicles are allowed across, and foot traffic is restricted to local villagers only as this Albanian valley is effectively Greek, as we'd noticed from the road signs the previous week. All rather political.

He explains that the Greek part of the Nemercka ridge can be walked from the south end i.e. from xxxx. It would also appear possible to access the ridge from near the border, at Drymades where a track leads partway up to the ridge. Maybe it would be possible to follow the ridge into Albania to the summit. Presumably no border guards on the ridge? but plenty scope for sheepdog encounters.

Given our need to get back to Skopje for homeward flight we have to give up on this peak for the time being.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:7382 ft / 2250 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:7382 ft / 2250 m
    Start Trailhead:0 ft / 0 m
Descent Statistics
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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