As with the majority of my potential high points, I’m always on the lookout for cheap flights to nearby airports which can potentially lower the cost of my trip considerably compared to having a preplanned list of specific high points to climb per year. Therefore the flight price usually dictates where I climb and travel to next.
Having only ever been to Montenegro briefly before (around an hour while climbing Maglic in Bosnia Herzegovina) I was looking forward to finally having the chance to see more of the country on this trip.
Another trip to the Arctic circle. This time I ventured even further north to climb Halti, the highest point in Finland and the most northern country high point in the world.
Sweden’s highest point Kebnekaise lies in the very north of the country inside the Arctic circle. During the summer months the sun doesn’t go down leading to 24 hours of daylight. During the winter months the sun doesn’t rise meaning 24 hours of darkness.
Despite Liechtenstein being one of the smallest countries in the world (25km x 12km), It’s the highest point Grauspitz is not what you would probably expect! It’s a stunning 2599m tall mountain with very impressive ridges and steep cliffs.
Since starting my 100 country high points project I had simply assumed along with many others that Djeravica (2656m) was the highest point in Kosovo. This claim was backed up by the majority of websites and high point lists available on the internet. That was until I saw details regarding a mountain on the border with Macedonia claiming to be the new highest point of the Republic of Kosovo. This was very intriguing news indeed and my position was simple, this needed researching in a lot greater detail.
Every aspect logistically was perfect from my previous attempt so it was just a matter of re-booking the trip which I did from my hotel room while still in Bosnia three weeks prior. I flew again from Luton to Tuzla where I spent a few hours before walking to Zivinice, a town about 8km from the airport. From there I caught a bus which took me to Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina in around 2hrs 20 minutes. From 1992-1996 Sarajevo was heavily involved in the Bosnian war including the siege of Sarajevo.
Earlier this year (2017) Belarus finally removed the need for a visa if visiting for less than 5 days and flying in and out of Minsk international airport. This was great news and I quickly started looking into the logistics to get to the countries high point. Flights direct to Minsk are always quite expensive so I needed to find a cheap way of getting there. The flights I booked were to Minsk via Vilnius in Lithuania which reduced the price by a considerable amount.
Logistically just getting to the foot of Balanesti was going to be my biggest hurdle with this particular high point. Moldova is the poorest country in Europe which is certainly evident in its poor public transport infrastructure. My plan was to fly to Iasi in Romania and from there go by train across the nearby border with Moldova at Ungheni and onto Pirlita a small village in Moldova, leaving myself a long walking day to the high point and back to the train 48km (30 miles). On paper, it certainly looked doable so I booked the flights and a few weeks later I was in Iasi ready to catch the train to Moldova.
The weather forecast leading up to my trip said there would be a fair amount of snow around with a wind chill of -17c. So warm gear was a must. I flew from Liverpool to Riga arriving late and spending a pleasant evening in the airport which was warm and had free WiFi. I could see deep snow outside and knew that the 13km walk tomorrow and the same back the next day would be more of a plod.