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Published: October 6th 2018
Summit and Border Marker
Right on the border with Macedonia. RK, Republic of Kosovo.
Velika Rudoka @ 2658 meters ASL (8720') definitely lived up to its name. I summited the recently designated high point in Kosovo, and my last Balkan high point on the tick list, yesterday at 15:38 local time.
When I looked at the map and read the trip reports (not many as most peak baggers seem to go from Macedonia), I thought summiting would be fairly straightforward. The mountain is just a few kms from the end of the road at Hotel Arxhena. However, the vertical gain is ~1100 meters (3600') so I knew I was going to have to motor especially considering that I was doing this as a day trip from Prishtinë in a rental car that I could pick up no earlier than 9:00.
Departed the capital just after 9:30 and after innumerable white knuckle moments driving out of town, I got on the highway towards Prizren and promptly bypassed it on the way to Dragash. The road got very narrow and windy as it headed up over the mountains on the outskirts of Prizren where there seemed to be some sort of traffic snarl. Even after that cleared it was slow going uphill following a mini
convoy of construction vehicles. I had planned to grab lunch on the way but skipped it as it was taking much longer than I thought it would to get to the start of the hike. Eventually got to the hotel where I could leave the car no problemo
Headed out from the hotel at 12:13 and immediately noticed a sign stating that Rudoka was 5½ hours. I was hoping that was round trip. The first obstacle was passing a herd of sheep and their psychotic dogs who hold a well deserved reputation in this part of Europe. I had nervously encountered one in Albania years ago but did not have a problem. Not so this time. Two of them fiercely barked at me so I stopped and their owner got them to stay put. But one, presumably a wild dog, decided to run full bore at me. I took off back down the trail until the shepard intervened and threw a bunch of rocks at the scraggly mutt which seemed to ward him off. I grabbed a few tennis ball-sized rocks just in case and continued.
After the canine incident, the already sparse trail markers seemed to disappear
Summit Finally in Sight
After a couple of hours of cross country hiking and finally abandoning the trail markers which seemed to be leading me to Macedonia in the distance.
entirely. I only had the GPS on my mobile and a vague recollection of the route to guide me. The trail continued upstream and, according to my GPS and intuition, further from the summit. I looked back and could see another faint trail heading up a prominent side valley in the direction I knew was towards The Great Rudoka which was still way out of sight. I followed the track (could have been a sheep path) along the valley's small creek and eventually regained the trail markers although they did not appear to be heading anywhere towards the summit.
At that point it was getting close to my designated turn around time of 16:00 (sunset ~18:20) so I backtracked to the base of what I was ~90% confident was the peak. There was no more trail to speak of and taking the direct approach straight up the uneven 30° slope just about killed me. But the GPS was spot on and after ~40 minutes I reached the saddle between Great Rudoka and its satellite summit, presumably The Merely Pedestrian Rudoka. Topped out at 15:38, photo documented the summit, ate my one Clif Bar, hydrated a bit, and headed back
Other Side of Summit Marker in Macedonia
Not PM, Cyrillic RM, Republic of Macedonia
down which was equally difficult as going up due to the nature of the terrain.
Fortunately the sheep and their intimidating guard dogs were nowhere to be found on the return and I got back to the hotel at 17:43 which was amazingly 5½ hours round trip to the minute. The drive back to Prishtinë went faster as there was no traffic and I dropped off the car in the parking garage ~20:30, about a 10 min walk from the hostel.
Capital of one of the world's youngest countries. After the torrid pace of the first 2 weeks of this trip, I'll spend an extra night here chillaxin after getting thoroughly knackered on Great Rudoka yesterday. Accommodation and food
Moon Hostel runs €8/night in a 4 person dorm that I shared with one other American. The hostel was a bit chilly as it has been unseasonably cold and the heat is controlled by Big Brother who turns it on mid October. Good breakfast included except for the instant coffee situation. However, that can be easily remedied at any of the infinite number of cafés to get a cheap espresso or macchiato although the prevalence of cigarette
Even Former Communists Like to Shred Fluffy Pow-Pow
Hotel is the base of a functioning ski resort in winter.
smoking here is nearly on par with the epidemic levels in Serbia. Gorged myself at Taunita Foods, cafeteria style but pretty good, near the hostel, ~€3 for a huge plate of food. Transport
Hertz car rental is located at the central Grand Hotel Prishtinë which was very convenient and saved me a €15 one way taxi ride to the distant airport which is where all the other international car rental agencies are located. Car ran €30 and I had to pump in €19 in petrol (€1.20/liter) after the nearly 300 km round trip to the start of the hike and back.
Only other transport of consequence for me is the minibus to Skopje, Macedonia. Departures are every half hour or so for €5 + €0.50 terminal tax. Bus station is a 20-30 min walk to central Prishtinë.
Tot: 0.481s; Tpl: 0.048s; cc: 12; qc: 33; dbt: 0.0196s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb