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VIRTUAL MOUNTAINS .CO .UK
VIRTUAL MOUNTAINS .CO .UK

Mountains of Croatia -

Gorski Kotar:


In these tours you will be able to visit HPO's in Croatia's Gorski Kotar, Kvarner.

Whilst I have walked many these HPO's at various times, only the tours of Tuhobić and Kamenjak are fully complete. A tour of the Grobnik Alps that includes the peaks of Crni Vrh, Fratar, and Obruč is currenty under developement, and near complete. You can explore the work in progress, climbing through the adrenaline pumping Mudna Dol canyon or hiking in from the hamlet of Podkilovac or from the resort at Platak.

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Tuhobić1109mHPO 8.14Gornje Jelenje
Risnjak1528HPO 9.6No tour
Snježnik1505HPO 9.7No tour
Jelenc1442HPO 9.8No tour
Crni Vrh, Grobnik Alps1335HPO 9.9Platak, Halić, or Podkilovac
Fratar, Grobnik Alps1353HPO 9.10Halić, Podkilovac, or Platak
Obruč, Grobnik Alps1376HPO 9.11Halić, Podkilovac, or Platak
Kamenjak837mHPO 9.12The hamlet Kamenjak


Let's Go:


Float cursor over picture button below to view start location, allowing time for Google Map to update. Click the picture button to begin tour.


Grobnik Alps:


The Grobnik Alps lie at the south western edge of Gorski Kotar, their grassy slopes make them clearly IDentifiable, from as far as the Istrian Peninsular. Traversing these peaks provIDes broad views not only of the neighbouring mountains, but of the coast and islands, views often absent from the forested slopes elsewhere in the region.

The Grobnik Alps from Grobničko Polje
The Grobnik Alps from Grobničko Polje.

Perhaps the best approach is from the south, is to start from the hamlet of Podkilovac. There is parking here for half a dozen cars, and it is the final stop on bus route 16A, 35 minutes from the city of Rijeka. Expand

It was from Podkilovac that I started my hike up Obruč one hot sunny day in July 1997, aiming for the prominent peak that I had spied from the beaches of Opatija and Lovran. I knew little of what to expect, my map a black and white photocopy of a document near 25 years old. As expected it was a satisfying ascent; the route frequently waymarked by the traditional red and white targets painted on trees, the occasional sign with timings to the peak and hut helping me on my way. The final climb along fractured limestone blocks was extremely enjoyable, the views magnificent. On the descent I stopped by planinarski dom Hahlić, more out of curiosity rather than necessity.

In 1997 dom Hahlić was a smaller hut than that stands their now, an extension having since being added to the rear, and the facade re-clad. The elderly guardian (quite a legend I later learned) invited me to drink a cup of what I believe he called a "mountain tea", perhaps some blend of herbs and rose hip, I had passed many beautiful flowering examples of the latter within the last hour. And then it happened. My understanding of the Croatian tongue was, as it proved to remain, very poor, yet determined to share his local knowledge and ensure I dID not miss out on something special, the guardian, suggested I make the remainder of my descent via Mudna Dol. With finger he pointed the way on my map, gesturing with his hands the sIDes of a canyon, and producing a collection of rubber control token stamps that gave further clues of what might lie in wait. So with thanks I went and followed his advice.

Planinarski dom Hahlić in 1997.
Planinarski dom Hahlić in 1997.

That first journey through Mudna Dol was full of trepIDation. The sIDes of the canyon slowly closed in, steepening into cliffs. The first drop, not sheer, okay. Then some boulders, this was fun, but always at the back of my mind a warning from others; "beware of snakes". But there were no snakes, and never have I seen any in this area. If there were any, I suspect they heard me coming and retreated into cover. Suddenly ahead of me, a long vertical drop where the disappeared waters have wormed themselves into the limestone rock. It's almost like potholing but with daylight and a view of the sky. Thankfully there is a ladder, elsewhere wires. I clamber down, alone and nervous, but yes, excited too. Finally the longest drop, possibly ten or fifteen metres down a wIDe cliff face where, perhaps after heavy rain, there must be a spectacular waterfall. There is frayed wire rope to assist. Lowering myself down, my heart is in my mouth, far easier to climb up than down I reckon.

Mudnal Dol on my descent in 1997.
Ladder and cable in Mudnal Dol on my descent in 1997.

And so this proves to be the case. When I return one cold and foggy day in February 2000, already delayed because I had taken a late autobus to the town of Grobnik and walked many miles extra, the ascent was exhilarating. The walls of the canyon keeping me on course, but when I emerged from the underworld and joined the waymarked trail through the forest, it was only with patients and skill that I found my way to dom Hahlić. The fog was thick, the fallen leaves of the trees covered any trace of a route on the ground and somewhere I went of course. Constant checking the map, compass bearings, and estimates took me to the hut. With no signs of the weather clearing, I descended the forestry track to Podkilovac and continued on to the village of Dražice from where there are more frequent buses back into Rijeka.

The 360º panoramas for the tours here were shot on yet another trip, this time in August 2015 with my teenage son. He had grown out of going for walks with his parents, but I had promised him something different on this trip, something adventurous. In truth I had been waiting years to take him on this route, and now he was big enough, physically able to handle the climbs and mentally ready to handle the space beneath his feet.

I had to wait until August 2016 to climb Crni Vrh and Fratar, the remaining HPO peaks of the Grobnik Alps. An early start found me crossing the two meadows, Mali and Veliki Pribeniš, heading north away from dom Planik along the route of the neglected “Riječka planinarska transverzala”. The open expanse provIDed great views of peaks to the east; Snježnik, Guslica, and Planina. Wild horses roamed free in the larger meadow, and at it tip I was greeted by a pair of massive dogs, snarling and barking, daring me to go closer to a shepherd’s compound a few hundred metres or so from the track. Braving their approach I continued along the track into the trees and the views disappeared from sight.

Much of the “Riječka planinarska transverzala” follows forestry tracks with shortcuts down narrower paths, the route marked from time to time with the faded red letters "RT", and the freshly painted letters "RPO" of the new 166 Km "Riječka Planinarska Obilaznica" that aims to supersede the older route around the skyline of the Kvarner bay from Lovran in the west to Crikenica in the east.

The ascent of Crni Vrh, my first peak of the day, is an optional diversion on the "RPO", and on the route of the "RT". On this hot summer's day I was thankfully that my ascent of was from the forested and shaded eastern approach. Breaking out towards the summit the views east, south, and west were fantastic; the mountains of Gorski Kotar, the sea, the islands of Krk and Cres, the sea, and then the mountain massifs of Učka and the Ćićarija. With a quick stop to stamp my HPO log book, the descent of the peak's south facing rIDge was begun. I had not known what to expect and was thrilled by the easy scrambling, the down climbing that often required both hands and feet to scale the white limestone rock. With a pause for some route finding, the red and white markers entered the forest once more to be lost and then found as the path here appeared to be rarely trodden.

The summits of Crni Vrh, Fratar, and Obruč 2016.
The summits of Crni Vrh, Fratar, and Obruč 2016.

The route to Fratar followed forestry tracks and paths, passed through forest and meadows. I joined tracks that I recognised, having walked them before on my ascent of Mudna Dol to Dom Halić. Then a quick change of direction, tacking back on myself but heading slightly northwards and uphill in the brilliant sunshine and with views all the way if one paused to look around. This southern approach to Fratar throws interesting challenges at the hiker, loose rock slopes, boulder fields, and small cliffs. Nothing too challenging, all good fun. At the summit time was made for photos and the log book stamp, then the descent down a rocky path along the fine western rIDge before turning south into the forest above Dom Halić.

I would visit Dom Halić later, but first there was time for bagging Obruč the third HPO of the day. Whilst I had summited it successfully in 1997, I had neither the log book stamp nor the photos for the tour. Memory plays tricks, and the peak was further than I thought. I drank the last of my water and arrived at top with its cairn and stone cross. Then quickly, it was back to Dom Halić to refill my water bottles. But the hut was closed, the outsIDe water tap broken. The bar at dom Planik when I returned three hours later was very very welcome.

The photos for the Mudna Dol tour were taken in 2015 using an iPhone 4S using Microsoft's Photosynth app. Those of the Fratar, Crni Vrh, and Obruč were taken in 2016 using a Ricoh Theta S.Minimise


Kamenjak:


Kamenjak is greater than it's 837m would suggest. Multiple route provIDe interest, whilst the views from the summit are expensive. For those with only a little time on their hands, a morning or afternoon perhaps, it is well worth exploration. Expand

My first visit was during the spring of 1996. Miro, and I had taken a coach from Rijeka and disembarked as the road first bends between Kamenjak mountain on the right and the higher mountains on the left. The day was gorgously sunny, dare I say a little too hot, for our route to the summit was an exposed scramble up the bare, white ribs of the mountain's western flank. Here the limestone bolders give way to steep white faces, carved by errosion into sharps flutes that provIDed excellent grip and hand holds that made tiny abrasions such that when one finally reached the summit, our hands where quite sore. On that route our way was barred by an unexpected gap in the rIDgeline, a voID that could only be crossed by some serious back tracking, or by a leap of faith from one exposed crag top to another.

Understandable when I returned to Kamenjak in 2012 with my young two sons, I took them on the easier, unexposed route that starts its way from the north and the heads up the mountains eastern flank. This route had once been a wIDe, well constructed trackway. Miro had explained to me that it had been built during World War II to a gun placement near Kamenjak's summit to guard the road. Which army built it I do not know.

The fluted limestone scramble up Kamenjak's western rIDge
The fluted limestone scramble up Kamenjak's western rIDge.

The photos for the tour were taken on an iPhone 4S using Microsoft's Photosynth app.Minimise

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