What is the highest mountain in Montenegro still remains a big mystery to us. At least we climbed both Zla Kolata and Dobre Kolata (2 out of 4 candidates) to increase the probability that we had set foot on the highest point in Montenegro.
After a successful hike to Deravica in Kosovo, we spent the night at Lake Plav in Montenegro. Early in the morning we drove the short stretch to Vusanje, where we parked our car at an abandoned army barrack (elevation 1010 meters). It was cloudy weather and we were really not looking forward to yet another rainy hike. Even more worrying, Lars had got infected by a stomach bug and he felt like crap this morning. But it would take substantial more than that to stop us.
We started to hike along a logging road, although this turned more into a mule track higher up. After 5 km we left this road/track at approximately 1700 m.a.s.l, then continued on a fairly good trail heading directly south towards Kolata. This fork is not obvious at all, we just found it because I had a handheld GPS device with a pre-downloaded track from Kolata. Shortly after this fork, Lars started to vomit on the trail. His pace had been dropping gradually during the last hour. After the nasty vomiting scene we had to take frequent breaks.
The low clouds started to disappear and the sun greeted us while we made fairly good progress toward a distinct pass slightly above 2000m. Instead of crossing the pass and border into Albania, we turned sharply east into the basin between Zla Kolata and Dobre Kolata. We were surprised to find a well marked trail here. The last 400 meters gain of elevation was really tough on Lars, his pace got painfully slow but he never gave up. He said this hike was much tougher than his summit day on Kilimanjaro due to his condition.
Weird GPS readings on the summit
Lars almost collapsed on the summit of Zla Kolata, and he fell into a fetal position next to the cairn. We were surely at the highest point of Zla Kolata, even though both our GPS devices showed a substantial lower reading than the official height (only 2522m compared to 2534m). We then descended back down to the saddle between Zla Kolata and Dobre Kolata, loosing 100 meters in elevation. We wanted to make sure that we had been on the highest peak in Montenegro, hence we decided to climb Dobre Kolata as well.
Lars literally staggered his way to the top of Dobre Kolata, almost in a coma, while I went ahead to measure the elevation of the summit. Both GPS devices surprisingly showed that Dobre Kolata was 3-5 meters higher than Zla Kolata, while my Suunto barometer showed the opposite, that it was 5 meters lower. We were confused about the readings, but at least we had made sure to climb both summits in case a future survey will switch the position of these two peaks. Who knows, it might be even so that the formerly known highest peak of Montenegro, Bobotov Kuk (2523m), will re-emerge to 1st position.
If it was not because of Lars health condition, we would have climbed the main Kolata peak as well. Maja Kolata (2552m) is without any doubts the highest of them, but this peak is more than 1 km inside Albanian territory, hence it can never be regarded as the highest point in Montenegro.
Lars had become very dehydrated, so I donated all my water to him before we started to descend. Lars was doing better in the downhills and it took us 3+ hours to return to our car in Vusanje. We had a long drive ahead of us to reach the country highpoint in Bosnia (Maglic), but we decided to leave most of that drive for the next morning.
Kolata at EveryTrail