The Croatian Climbing Society (HPD) was founded in 1874, which puts the Croats among the first seven nations in the world with a climbing organization. It is of interest that at the beginning climbing in Croatia was directed towards scientific research into the natural features of the mountains, and less towards the conquest of peaks.
The Croatian Climbing Society (HPD) was founded in 1874, which puts the Croats among the first seven nations in the world with a climbing organization. It is of interest that at the beginning climbing in Croatia was directed towards scientific research into the natural features of the mountains, and less towards the conquest of peaks. Thus leading university professors and scientists were members of the society in the last century. However, in spite of this long tradition, the mountains are still the least known part of our country.
Mountain Rescue Service
The Mountain Rescue Service (GSS, initials in Croatian) works and offers help only in inaccessible regions, far from the highways, where the regular emergency services cannot help. The GSS offers its service without any charge to those in trouble, and its members expect to have the full cooperation and understanding of everyone. The GSS can be informed via the nearest information point or via a police station (Tel: 92). In Croatia GSS stations and the GSS Commission are also information points.
Mountain Rescue Service Commission of Croatia Kozarceva 22 10000 Zagreb Tel: / Fax (01) 4824 142 President: Damir Lackovic Tel: (01) 428 596
Hrvatski planinarski savez (Croatian mountaineering association) Tel: (01) 4557 911
Note: Should no one answer, call the police.
Markings in Croatian mountains are quite standard: a red circle with a white dot in the centre. Sometimes, very thin trees are marked with two parallel red lines and a white line between them.
The mountaineering clubs look after the maintenance of the markings, usually those that have their lodge or hut in the mountain, the exception being the Velebit mountain path, which is looked after by PSH, the Mountain Climbing Federation of Croatia.
Mountains far from the climbing clubs, and especially those in which there are no huts, are sparsely marked. It should be added that occasionally careless trippers or shepherds damage or destroy signs at crossways and cut down the trees in mountain regions and so remove the markings.
Hrvatski planinarski savez (Croatian climbing federation) 10000 Zagreb Kozarceva 22 Tel: (01) 4557 911 Tel/Fax.: (01) 4824 142
(Dr Zeljko Poljak: The Mountains of Croatia, a climbing and tourist guide. The Croatian Climbing Federation, 1981. This source was consulted for the whole of this section.)
The mountains of the Republic of Croatia mainly belong to the Dinaric range, and to a lesser degree are an eastern extension of the Alps and a remains of the old Oriental landmass. In the north west part of the Republic both systems meet, in a so-called transitional zone. Although the mountains are not very high, there being no peak above 2000 m, they are very interesting.
The Dinaric range, most of which is in Croatia, is known in the world as a classic region of deep karst. Its essential feature, of possessing an equal richness of both surface and subterranean relief, give Croatian climbing a special character. Climbing in the karst has a lot in common with being in the high mountains. The sharp karst shapes, the domination of bare karst, the lack of water, poverty of vegetation, harsh climate and sparse population require the same efforts from the climber as many much higher mountains. But there are also differences among the Dinaric mountains. Those in the north are lower and milder (in Gorski kotar, for example) and those in the south are higher and more deserted (the Dalmatian mountains).
The mountains between the Sava and Drava rivers are completely different. They are made of older rock, are milder in form, fairly low, rich in water and vegetation, for which they are suitable for hill-walking and gentle hiking.
What singles Croatian mountains out from almost all others in European countries is the abundance of mountains on islands. All of the islands are mountainous, and are actually themselves mountains, belonging to the Dinaric chain. Their material (limestone of the Cretaceous period) and direction (north west to south east) are identical.
The shape of the island mountains is conditioned by their origins and the forces that have created the karst relief on them. Unlike the mountains of the mainland, their foothills have been shaped by the action of the sea. The best such example is the coast of Dugi otok, with its vertical cliffs that rear right up from the sea for over 100 metres. These rocks are suitable for coastal mountain climbing, which is not yet very popular in Croatia. Nowhere in Croatia is the climate as mild as in the islands. The average temperature in January is never below zero which means that the summer climbing season lasts all the year round. The main troubles that the climber will have are in the summer heats and the lack of water. The heat is mitigated by the maestral wind off the sea. A result of the Mediterranean climate is the growth of an interesting and rich vegetation (approximately 1000 species). The hot dry summers and strong sunshine are not very favourable to forests. Most of the islands are covered with maquis, degraded forests of low shrub. Only on the southern islands is there some real forest.
In the climbing world, the islands have not yet obtained their rightful place in Croatian tourism. Exceptions are mountains on the islands of Lošinj, Pag, Rab and Brac.
The Mountains of Dalmatia
The mountains of Dalmatia include Ilica, Dinara, Troglav, Kamešnica, Zmijino brdo on Pelješac, Svilaja, Promina, Kozjak, Mosor, Poljicka planina, Omiška Dinara, Biokovo and Orjen.
The basic feature of the mountains of this region is the fact that they belong to the Dinarides. In Dalmatia, the Dinarides fork into a number of parallel chains. The highest is the one that constitutes the natural boundary with Bosnia and Herzegovina and consists of Ilica, Dinara, Troglov and Kamešnica. A second line runs through Dalmatinska Zagora in which the highest are Promina, Mosea and Svilaja. From the climbing angle, the most interesting are in the coastal chain, Kozjak, Mosor, Omiška Dinara and Biokovo.
The most important feature of these mountains is that the highest mountain regions here do not have the form of a ridge but of a high plateau (up to about 1700 metres), with a very complicated relief, with many gorges and peaks, caverns and spurs. The edges of the plateaux often finish in huge vertical cliffs that plunge into deep, flat karst fields. As a rule the cliffs tend to be found on the south slopes, an exception being Troglov, which has cliffs on the northern slopes. What makes the strongest impression in the Dalmatian mountains is the awesome barrenness of the endless stone wastes on the plateaux. This is the realm of the Dalmatian karst, which has no parallel in Europe, perhaps not in the world.
The climate is very severe here. In summer the sun roasts the stone, and in winter the extremely dry north wind dries up the very last trace of moisture in the soil. This is highly unfavourable to the development of vegetation, and a sparse flora means there is little in the way of animal life, apart from snakes, including the venomous viper and adder.