I spent ten years of my life snowboarding every winter at east coast ski centers. I thought I was a veteran. It wasn’t until my first backcountry ride in Montenegro that I realized I never really snowboarded a day in my life. When you feel that weightless feeling of floating across real, dry snow for the first time, everything changes. A primordial scream of joy burst out of your lungs as you surf down the slope. If you too share a love for snowboarding, there is no better place to lose your backcountry virginity than Montenegro. The terrain is breathtaking, the snow is plentiful and most importantly, it is accessible to every wallet size.
WHERE TO STAY
With a wide range of terrain to choose from and snow from November to May, Bogicevica National Park, located in the Prokletije mountain range, is where all the best snowboarding takes place. This park is accessible from a stay in Plav, Montenegro. Plav is a small mountain town located in the Northeast section of Montenegro. It has a wide range of affordable hotels to stay in. To mention a few local favorites, there is Camp Hotel Lakeviews, Apartmani Timm, and Holiday Park Aqua Resort. From here you are about a 20 kilometer ride to Bogicevica National Park. If you want to make the most of you trip and gain the full backcountry experience, I highly recommend staying in a cabin already located in the Bogicevica National Park. This way you can make the most of your days in the backcountry. It’ll save you the hour trip from Plav in the morning and offer a well needed disconnect from society. Leaving you with only one thing to focus on, snowboarding. These cabins are plentiful, but most are not commercially advertised. If you want to go the safe cabin route, the best option is The Three Peaks View House. This cabin is located near the most famous lake in Montenegro Hridsko Jezero. There are many other cabins available, but you will have to ask around in town to find a connect. I know this sounds different, but Plav is a small place. You can ask any stranger on the street and they will connect you to who you need to contact.
YOUR LOCAL GUIDE
The priceless reward that resides in the backcountry comes with an equal amount of risk. That’s where your local guide comes into play. I stress local because if your guide is anything other than that, then you are wasting your money. You might think you can go without a guide, but this is a terrible idea. You simply cannot not go out on your own. You need the help of an experienced guide to make sure that snow conditions are safe and to bring you to where the best lines are located. With a lifetime of experience in the Montenegrin backcountry, the legendary Esad Redzematovic is the only ski tour guide I can recommend in Plav. Not only for his depth of knowledge in terrain and safety, but for his endless love for the sport. If skiing was sure to kill you like smoking, there is no doubt in my mind that Esad (Eso) would continue to ski until that day finally came. This is the type of person you want to follow into the backcountry. The right guide will make or break your trip and with Eso there is a guarantee that you will have the trip of a lifetime and return home safely to your family. You can contact Eso on Instagram @esadredzematovic or WhatsApp +382 069 628 071.
HOW TO GET TO BOGICEVICA
The road to Bogicevica National Park is an adventure in itself. This road begins after exiting the neighborhood of Korita in Plav. Type in Komoraca into your GPS and it will take you to the start of the road to Bogicevica. Once you cross the first bridge in Komoraca take a right and follow this road until you reach Katun Bogicevica (marked by a sign). The journey is about 20 kilometers of rough road. If you do not have the right vehicle for the trip do not attempt it, you won’t get far. Snow is endless in winter and this makes things more difficult. I recommend hiring a local to drive to to and from because the road requires experience to navigate. My buddy Faris has the vehicle, skill and experience to take you up in any conditions. You can reach him on WhatsApp +382 067 733 505.
MY EXPERIENCE BACKCOUNTRY SNOWBOARDING IN MONTENEGRO
I risked a lot to have the opportunity to spend a winter skiing in Montenegro. I quit my job and left my future up in the air. That being said, I would not go back on this decision for any amount of money or security. I found myself on those ski tours. I saw things that one can only dream of seeing in a lifetime. I rode lines that people search their whole life to ride. I made friends and memories that I will never forget. My first ride in real snow was difficult. The hike was tough and when riding I could barely stay on my feet, but I accepted the challenge with open arms. Now, I can tear up the slopes like I have been riding the backcountry for years. I went from a kid in Connecticut figuring things out to a man of the backcountry in a few short months. There is absolutely nothing better than earning you turns. Every second riding after a long hike is golden. If I were in your shoes right now reading this blog post, I would start planning my trip immediately. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. It is the experience of a lifetime.