Scenic Sport Climbing in Montenegro

Montenegro is a small and interesting country, popular with tourists for the beautiful coast. As well as the coast, Montenegro has lots of beautiful mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers. This makes it a great choice of destination for outdoor enthusiasts. There is plenty of great climbing developed in the country already, with the potential for much more.

Beautiful nature in Montenegro

Before you go

Montenegro is also known as Crna Gora, which translates to black mountain. The country has an average elevation of around 1000 meters and roughly 80% of the country is mountainous. When you visit you will be surrounded by a plethora of rocky outcrops and mountains.

The power of water

Much like other Balkan countries the rock climbing here is largely undeveloped and has a massive potential for new routes. When exploring the country you will see lots of great quality rock, not far from the road, that is just waiting to be climbed. When we visited (May 2021) there was no guidebook, however, we found most of our information here. This website has a lot of useful information about all the climbing areas in the country. The photo topos for Smokovac were great and we found it easy to locate the routes.

Ostrog Monastery

Climbing recommendations

We were quite unfortunate with the weather, it was torrential rain most days of our trip. We only managed around five climbing days during the two weeks we were in Montenegro. Because of this, our recommendations will be fairly limited. We did really enjoy our days at the main sport climbing venue in the country, Smokovac, which is just 5 km outside of the capital city of Podgorica.

Smokovac

There are three sectors, with over 100 routes. The sectors are on both sides of the valley with different aspects, so it is possible to climb throughout the year. The most popular sector at Smokovac is Smoki. This sector is North-West facing which makes it good for climbing in the morning on a hot day. The parking is just off the main road and has approximately 10 minute approach. We used the topos on the website we have linked to but it is also possible to the match the route names on the “community list” on 8.nu / the vertical life app to the ones written beneath the routes.

Steep crag which is covered in tufas and is very featured.
Sector Smoki

Most routes are between 20 and 25 meters long, and they often look easier than they actually are. The climbs here feel stiff at the grade, so whatever you climb you’ll feel you’ve earned it. There are a lot of tufas on the crag and the style is really nice, technical and pumpy climbing. We found that the routes generally stayed dry, or were quick drying but that it wasn’t ideal to climb while it was raining.

Durmitor National Park

Anyone who enjoys the mountains and hiking should visit Durmitor. The national park is stunning and there a lots of great walking trails. There is climbing here, however, the routes seem quite tricky to find. Coupled with all the snow around, we opted for some hiking on our visit instead of climbing.

Panoramic photo of the mountain range over in snow. Bobotov Kuk summit is striking. The craggy summit is emerging from the snow.
Hiking towards Bobotov Kuk

Bobotov Kuk

We didn’t realise how much snow there would be here even in May which will be something to bear in mind if you want to hike or climb in the National Park. We attempted to walk up Bobotov Kuk, however we had not come equipped for so much snow. We decided not to go all the way and save ourselves some snow wading. Eventhough we didn’t summit the walk and the views were fantastic and we even saw a lone wolf!

Woman travelling along the deep snow on Bobotov Kuk in Durmitor National Park. There is snow resting on the ledges everywhere.

Crno Jezero

Crno Jezero, or the black lake, sits the shadows of the looming peaks of the Dinaric Alps. There are two lakes which joins to form a large “8” shaped lake together outside of the dry season. We walked around the two lakes on a circular walk which was around 3.5 km. We were lucky enough to witness the cascades which is a phenomenon which occurs due to the vast amount of snow melt in the Spring. The tributaries of the lake burst which floods the path with a series of mini, icy cold cascades which is just beautiful (shoes and socks off required to cross the footpath!)

The Dynamic Alps in the background which is reflected on Crno Jezero, black lake, in the foreground. Between the peaks and the lake is a thick alpine forest.
Crno Jezero

Tara Canyon

Not too far from Durmitor national park is Tara Canyon which claims to be the deepest canyon in Europe. There is also apparently climbing here but we failed to find any meaningful information about it. Here there is a historic bridge, rafting, zip lining and practically anything else you could think a tourist would want to do.

The Tara River canyon

Rest day activities

Kotor

Kotor is one of Montenegro’s most famous and most popular area. The bay of Kotor is a beautiful inlet of the sea, sometimes dubbed ‘Europe’s most southerly Fjord’. Kotor has a charming old town and a historic fortress. The short walk uphill to the fortress rewards you with stunning views of the bay of Kotor and the surrounding mountains.

A historic town of Kotor sat in the valley by the water's edge. There are mountains set all around the town with a striking old fortress wall rising from the old town like a spine of a dinosaurs' back.
Along the fortress wall, looking down to Kotor

Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos

Statues guarding the Mausoleum

The Mausoleum is around 35 km from Kotor, up a panoramic serpentine road, in the Lovcen National Park. Both the mausoleum and Kotor can be visited in a day trip by car from Podgorica. Built in the 1970’s for a nationally beloved Montenegrin poet and leader the Mausoleum is elaborate, created from solid slabs of stone, with giant statues. It has breathtaking panoramic views down to the sea and you’re high up among the mountains on the viewing platform, with the birds flying amongst you. It was well worth the visit.

Panoramic views of rock and mountains everywhere into the far distance.
Panoramic views from the top

Ostrog Monastery

This is one of the most important Orthodox monasteries in the Balkans. The monastery should have some lovely outlooks and is built into the side of a cliff. As climbers we wondered what the possible routes would be like! Obviously climbing isn’t permitted near the monastery but on the drive down there is so much rock and bouldering, most still awaiting a first ascent.

White Church of Ostrog Monastery set into a steep cliff face. Dramatically there is fog covering the view.
Inside the Monastery

Summary

Montenegro is a beautiful country which packs a punch for its size. For the outdoor enthusiasts there is a lot on offer here. The coast is stunning, but we preferred the mountainous areas inland. Climbing here will surely increase in popularity and with that so will the number of routes. We have met several different people that want to travel through Montenegro and into Albania for climbing, they will not be disappointed.


Relavent links

Topos for climbing in Montenegro

http://www.montenegroclimbing.net/en/where-to-climb

Information about Ostrog Moanstery

https://www.visit-montenegro.com

General information about Montenegro

https://www.montenegropulse.com/ostrog-monastery.html

https://www.montenegro.travel/en/objects/nature-and-public-areas

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