Written by Liam Goldsworthy
On the 3rd October, 12 intrepid Acre explorers will be taking on The Accursed Mountains of the Albanian Alps, trekking and scrambling through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro.
This is the second entry in a 5 blog mini-series as we count down to the challenge, focusing on the trek itself, the peaks and the challenge ahead! For those who are yet to read the first blog authored by Acre Foundation co-lead Gavin Coates, you can acquaint yourself with the background and our intentions around the challenge here:
Our adventure starts on a Thursday, where we meet our guides and transfer to Valbone, nestled in the Accursed Mountains of Albania. A challenge brief and an early night will see us through to the first day of the challenge.
Day 1 – Valbone à Zla Kolata à Cerem
Starting early morning in Valbone, the Acre team will commence with the toughest day of the itinerary. From Valbone we make an arduous climb to Zla Kolata, the highest peak in Montenegro. Standing at 2,534m (over twice the height of Snowdon), we will ascend over 1,500 vertical metres to reach its summit, and along the way will have to scramble steep sections. At summit, we’ll be greeted with a panoramic view of neighbouring limestone peaks and dramatic Albanian Landscapes.
Our descent to the remote village of Cerem will be a huge test on the knees as we wrap up our first day to some local food and an early night!
Day 2 – Cerem à Doberdol
After another early rise, with sore legs after a tough first day, we begin our 1000m morning ascent from Cerem to the village of Doberdol. Sitting at the triple-border point between Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro, we’ll be without mobile signal, electricity and roads.
On our way to Doberdol, we’ll expect more scrambling and tough terrains, but will be rewarded by scenery in the Gashi valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, home to stunning glacial lakes, the Sulbica Plateau and inhabited by the Gashi Tribe.
Day 3 – Doberol à Mt Gjerevica à Gropa Erenikut
On our final day where we expect to be very sore and tired, we cross the border into Kosovo. This particular border used to be one of the most protected and controlled borders of the Cold War, separating Albania and former Yugoslavia. We begin our trek through two shepherd villages in two different countries; villages that share the same culture and language but were disconnected by political borders for many years.
We then tackle our final peak of Mt. Gjeravica, Kosovo’s highest peak at 2656m, passing beautiful glacial lakes and finish The Accursed Mountains in Gropa Erenikut, a village destroyed by the Serbian military during the war.
After 53km of mountain trails and over 3,600m of elevation, our challenge through the Accursed Mountains is complete. With the stunning Rugova mountains as a backdrop, we take a short transfer to Peja, the main gateway to the Peaks of the Balkans.
For those reading this blog who are new to Acre; as part of our Foundation, we host a charity challenge annually, raising money for our main charity partner. This will be the 6th year we have done such a challenge. Like last year, all money raised will go to Plastic Ocean’s UK, who do an incredible job in educating, advocating and researching innovative solutions to solve the plastic pollution epidemic.
For now, if you haven’t already, I’d urge you to view the documentary that inspired us to partner Plastic Oceans UK. A Plastic Ocean reveals the devastating causes and consequences of plastic pollution, but also offers hope and solutions amidst the crisis: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zrn4-FfbXw
For more information about the Acre Foundation or if you would like to make a Donation, please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/teams/acrefoundation2019