PEAK 37: Serbia – Midžor

Serbia’s highest point Midžor lies on the border with Bulgaria in the Stara Planina mountains near the ski resort Babin Zub. The mountains are known for grassy plains similar to Romania. The hike to the top of Midžor is not particularly steep, and therefore great for winter ascents on snowshoes or back country skies with a minimal risk of avalanches. How did I get to the peak?

Date of summit: 30th April 2019 14:55 
Traveling mode: Hiking
Height of the peak: 2170m
Hiking distance: 7.59 km 
Time to ascend to Midžor: 2 hours 28 minute 
Elevation climbed: 714m 
Map of my hiking to Midžor: Movescount
Personal rating of the mountain: ***  (6 stars maximum) 
Beer on the peak: Zaječarsko Pšenično *** (6 stars maximum) 

Finally the Balkans. Traveling across the countries of the former USSR was interesting but it was a tough time for my liver. I was looking forward to new mountain challenges and the Balkans definitively offer them. This time I was traveling with my mum. Our previous summit in Romania wasn’t successful so we wanted to improve our reputation.

My mother picked me up by car at the Vienna airport where I landed after my flight from Moldova and we drove through Hungary to Serbia. We passed the large Pannonian Basin after the city Niš, which is by the way the birthplace of Constantine the Great, and headed to the mountains.

My mum and I took dinner in a very interesting tram café in Niš

In the evening we reached the mountain village Babin Zub, the starting point of the hike to Midžor. We were welcome by a pleasant receptionist waiting at the door of the hotel Babin Zub. She quickly earned the nickname Nema Problema (In Serbian: No problem). We had a lot of questions and we always got this answer. At first we suspected that she did not understand our questions at all. But she really fixed everything. I must admit our stay was very pleasant.

We didn’t get up early in the morning because the weather forecast was bad. We rather enjoyed a great local breakfast in the form of a buffet full of all possible salads, cheese, sausages, eggs and other local delicacies.

It was a good decision because it started to snow heavily during our breakfast. Who would expect that from the Balkans at the end of April? In the end there were ten cm of new snow outside before we finished our breakfast. That will be a hike!

Fresh snow on the hill seen from our window

The snowfall passed but instead a thick fog covered the Serbian mountains. We would have liked to postpone the hike for the following day but it wasn’t an option. We had to save extra days for more challenging mountains. We had to conquer Midžor even in these bad conditions.

Hotel Babin Zub
Hotel Babin Zub

Most of the route was along an off-road path so it was easy to follow it even in the current fog. The hike was a bit boring in this weather but we soon got lucky. After an hour of walking the fog disappeared and we could finally see the beauty of the Serbian mountains. We also found out why the local village and our hotel are called Babin Zub (Grandma’s tooth). A large rock in the shape of a tooth rises above the village.

View over the Babin Zub rock and small local ski resort

This weather wasn’t suppose to stay good for a long time. We saw dark clouds approaching us. When we reached the summit the clouds just arrived. We again found ourselves in a dense fog, this time accompanied by strong winds and heavy snowfall. The snowflakes were even mixed with hail. The icy particles were big and frozen. They were hitting our faces so hard that we had to cover them with our scarfs. These were the harshest conditions I had ever experienced on any mountain. That’s how I imagine conditions when conquering the North Pole. Who would expect this from Serbia at the end of April? If similar weather would have met me in Iceland, Mont Blanc or another difficult mountain, I think it would have been a fight for life or death.

My mum and I frozen on Midžor

My tips for climbing the mountain Midžor:

  • In winter, take snowshoes or back country skies with you to summit Modžor. After the successful summit you can also enjoy skiing in the ski resort Babin Zub.
  • Don’t forget to enjoy local food and drinks in Serbian restaurants or mountain huts. The food is delicious and cheap.
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