FREERIDE TOURING MACEDONIA

The mountains of North Macedonia are not the first place you would consider a backcountry ski touring or splitboarding expedition. However an enviable snow record, lack of local freeriders and limited tourism combined with it’s stunning food, friendly locals and low prices make it an adventurous destination you should visit before word gets out.

The Snowbusters Macedonia Ski Expedition is a two week trip that explores the best skiing North Macedonia has to offer. We will combine time in ski resort accessed backcountry and remote skinning in four different Macedonian destinations. It will be a ski road trip that helps you understand (and love!) this interesting country that is a melting pot of different cultures.

Touring in North Macedonia is not easy, so you should have previous experience and very good fitness. Below is a rough itinerary, the final plan will vary dependent on the weather and snow conditions to ensure you make the most of your time with Snowbusters. All plans are adaptable to the group's needs so it can be made easier or more difficult.

Day 1 Arrival day
Collection from Skopje Airport and transfer to resort.

Day 2 to 4: Popova Shapka
We base ourselves in the rustic Mountain Hut Konak, which is right on the slopes of Popova Sapka ski resort in the Šar Mountains of northern North Macedonia. It is a small ski area with 20km of pistes and 9 lifts. But while we might make use of the lifts our goals are the surrounding backcountry.

There are several excellent touring locations in the area we can choose from depending on the groups experience and conditions. Tours of 6 to 10 hours with a vertical gain of around 1000m are possible with some great lines to ski. 

Transfer to Mavrovo.

Day 4 to 6: Mavrovo
Another ski resort in the northern part of the country, Mavrovo has around 25 km of slopes and 14 lifts. We will be staying at the basic, but comfortable, Ski Hut Gorica which has excellent access to Mavrovo National Park. There will be a little driving to access the best touring but nevermore than an hour.

The terrain here is easier for touring, with steady approaches to some moderately steep couloirs and interesting features. Nearby is Mount Korab, it is a full day tour but you get to ski one of the best lines in Macedonia – a huge 5km long gully with a vertical difference of 860m and average steepness of 25 to 30 degrees.

Day 7: Rest day
At times this trip will be pretty intense. There will be a lot of skinning every day so fatigue will build up. So we have factored in a rest day in which you can just relax or do some low key cultural activities. However this could be moved depending on the conditions.

Day 8 to 10: Mount Pelister
Next we head to southern North Macedonia and set up base near Mount Pelister (aka Baba Mountain). There are a range of classic tours to reach the 2601m peak, with a prominence of over 1500m it is hugely rewarding. The routes down from the summit are long and varied. As the third highest peak in the country there is often great powder. Lower down there’s excellent skiing through the forest. In bad weather we can visit nearby Ski Centar Kopanki.

Day 11 to 13: Jablanica Mountains
The Jablanica Mountains are on the Albanian border, reaching up to 2,257m they are an undiscovered gem. Even by the low key Macedonian standards this area is below the ski radar. It is sure to become very popular in the future and you can be one of the pioneers! Based in a small village at the foot of the mountain we will stay in either a listed house or mountain hut.

There are some exceptional areas to tour in the Jablanica Mountains with a range of aspects available for all conditions. There are couloirs, steep faces, moderately steep slopes and great tree skiing. We will fit in two excellent descents each day.

Transfer to Skopje Airport.

LOGISTICS
In addition to the scheduled rest day you will probably wish to take it easy on two other days. We will plan this around the conditions and how everyone is feeling. In most places there is the option of a day resort skiing to give your legs a break.

This trip is flexible regarding food. We can either shop for groceries and cook communially or do it all individually. Alternatively there are many cheap restaurants serving traditional food. Macedonia is a cultural melting pot with a wide range of influences on its cuisine and you can get excellent meals without breaking the bank.

All of your transport and transfers are included. In most areas we can start touring right from the accommodation. Sometimes we will drive to reach good starting points, this will usually be just a few minutes and no more than an hour.

SAFETY & AVALANCHES

During the week we spend a lot of time learning about safety in the mountains. Specifically, how to avoid an avalanche through understanding conditions, reading snow profiles and simple snow stability tests. You’ll learn how to perform an avalanche rescue if things go wrong along with some useful first aid.

Although there is some theory, most of it is taught in real life situations on the mountain. Snowbusters will demonstrate how to organize a group avalanche rescue and you’ll take part in rescue simulations. This includes multiple backfilling, digging victims and hypothermic treatment.

 

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN PRICE

12 days guided freeriding / basic avalnache training / technique coaching.

Local transport (FREE CHARGE).

Shared accommodation (FREE CHARGE).

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

Flights, travel, climbing insurance and food are not included. 

ANY EXTRAS

Ski / snowboard rental.

Ski pass if needed.

WHAT YOU NEED

Touring equipment (skis, split board), avalanche kit (avalnche back pack recomended), normal ski and snowboard equipment.

DIFFICULITY

Suitable for advanced piste skiers / snowboarders and comfortable to advanced off-piste skiers / snowboarders.

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN PRICE

12 days guided freeriding / basic avalnache training / technique coaching.

Local transport (FREE CHARGE).

WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE

Flights, travel, accommodation, skiing/snowboarding insurance and food are not included. 

ANY EXTRAS

Shared accommodation in self catering apartment will be organized on demand (20€ - 30€ a night)

Ski / snowboard rental.

Ski pass if needed.

WHAT YOU NEED

Touring equipment (skis, split board), avalanche kit (avalnche back pack recomended), normal ski and snowboard equipment.

DIFFICULITY

Suitable for advanced piste skiers / snowboarders and comfortable to advanced off-piste skiers / snowboarders.