Ascent of Korab on 2006-09-09

Climber: Scott Cockrell

Date:Saturday, September 9, 2006
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Location:Albania/North Macedonia
    Elevation:9068 ft / 2763 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a fabulous experience! The members of the Golem Korab climbing club of Macedonia have conducted this climb each year for some time. Korab is in a controlled military zone, and the only conventional way to climb it is to join the club on its annual hike commemorating Macedonian Independence Day, which is September 8. This year it was on Saturday to accommodate people who might not be able to come on a week day.
Consult the club web site at to find out about climbing Korab. This site is in both Macedonian and English. The site seemed to go down occasionally, or the English translation disappeared, but it always came back. I sent an e-mail to the people several months before the climb, and received a gracious reply from Boge, one of the leaders of the event. He corresponded with me for several months, and even came to pick me up in Skopje when I arrived!
If you are traveling from far away, I recommend staying at a small family-owned hotel in Skopje. After the climb, I stayed at the Hotel Kapistec, which has a nice web site -- my impression is that there are many similar hotels in Skopje. This gave me a chance to explore Skopje, which I found exotic enough to be really interesting. Another possibility is staying at Matka Hut, which is outside Skopje but not really that much closer to Korab. I stayed at Matka Hut the night before and the night after the climb -- it is much cheaper than staying in the city. The trouble with Matka Hut is – it is far enough outside the city to be hard to get to, but not really much closer to the mountain. The public buses seem to run on a somewhat unpredictable schedule. Either way, the organizers from the club provide buses to collect the climbers and take them to Korab, at a reasonable cost. If you stay in Skopje, you will be able to walk to a collection point, if you need to. The bus traveled past several towns and made a last-minute stop at a store where we picked up some extra water and snack food for the climb. Then we traveled up some very rough mountain roads, including a passage through the bottom of a spectacular steep-walled canyon, to the start of the hike. With 1000 people participating, everyone just started for the top as they arrived. Boge had introduced me to Gerhard, who had come from Austria, and we hiked together part of the way to the summit and part of the way back down. We also met someone named Tony, who came from Holland but ran a business in Macedonia, and hiked part of the way with him. We passed a lot of people on the way to the summit. There are many pictures on the club web site, including a couple of Gerhard and me at the summit monument -- everyone is crowding in to get in a picture! There were also a few soldiers with machine guns guarding the border. It looks like the approach from the Albanian side is much rougher. I made sure to walk all around the monument so I was in both countries.
Back near the end of the hike, Tony alerted us to something I would have missed out on otherwise. In front of a stone farm house, the hike organizers had put up a large tent. After waiting in line for quite awhile, I received a handsome "Korab" certificate in Macedonian with the Macedonian flag and my name on it. I was able to bring this back and have it framed, and it is a wonderful souvenir.
If you are interested in visiting Korab, I highly recommend checking out this event. I am not particularly experienced in visiting foreign countries -- but I had a really good time attending this event, climbing the mountain with all of the people, and getting a look at Macedonia and Skopje.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail

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