Ski Club 2.0 Home
Snow Reports

Mail for help.Help!!

Log in to snowHeads to make it MUCH better! Registration's totally free, of course, and makes snowHeads easier to use and to understand, gives better searching, filtering etc. as well as access to 'members only' forums, discounts and deals that U don't even know exist as a 'guest' user. (btw. 50,000+ snowHeads already know all this, making snowHeads the biggest, most active community of snow-heads in the UK, so you'll be in good company)..... When you register, you get our free weekly(-ish) snow report by email. It's rather good and not made up by tourist offices (or people that love the tourist office and want to marry it either)... We don't share your email address with anyone and we never send out any of those cheesy 'message from our partners' emails either. Anyway, snowHeads really is MUCH better when you're logged in - not least because you get to post your own messages complaining about things that annoy you like perhaps this banner which, incidentally, disappears when you log in :-)
Remember me:
👁 durr, I forgot...
Or: Register
(to be a proper snow-head, all official-like!)

TR: Western Balkans Part I - Popova Shapka, Macedonia (January 2011)

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
With most of the Alps dry throughout January it was time to look to the far corners of Europe for some powder.

As I was trawling the interweb, this article appeared in the Guardian newspaper in the UK

Snowboarding the Balkan Bloc

Snow forecast was calling for over 1m of fresh in the coming week at Popova Shapka, Macedonia and after looking at a few websites and getting replies from the forums the flight was booked and I was on my way.

Exploring Macedonia

Popova Shapka (in Macedonian)

Popova Sapka, Macedonia ... High above Tetovo on the Sar Mountain, there is the Popova Sapka ski resort (Popova Šapka, Popova Shapka), a major winter destination in north-western Macedonia. Popova Sapka is part of the wider Tetovo region and minucipality.

Popova Sapka is just the ski resort, a district including Popova Sapka hotels and other accommodation, a refuge (called Smreka) & the weekend settlement that rises on the opposite side of the ski slopes & lifts.

The Popova Sapka ski resort, represents the most visited tourist destination allover the Tetovo region. The road is in the middle between the settlement and the ski terrain, that rise up on the opposite sides.

The resort Popova Sapka can be accessed by the local road from Tetovo (18 km) and on to Skopje (48 km).

The ski slopes in Popova Sapka are first class & start at 1,690 meters above the sea level. They are connected by chair and drag-lifts.

Popova Sapka is home of military base of the Macedonian Army & meteorological station.

According to certain sources, a legend exist, how this area of Sar (Shar, Šar) Planina was named Popova Sapka (Popova Šapka). The legend says an orthodox priest exerting the evangelical mission, was killed like a martyr (and the body remained to be torn asunder by the wild animals), while visiting the orthodox-macedonian homes through the villages.

At this district, where only the priest's hat (on macedonian "kamilavka") was found - was named in his honor, Popova Sapka (English - Priest's Hat).


Return bus travel from cardiff to London Gatwick - 63 euros
Return Air Austria flight from Gatwick to Skojpe, Macedonia - 238 euros

The flight via Podgorica, Montenegro was an absolute pleasure.

Arrived in Skopje airport around 8pm with nothing open in the arrivals lounge. As soon as you go through customs you're on the street and trying to work your way through the throng of families, friends, and taxi drivers meeting the flight.

Walked in to the departure area to get money changed and then waited for a guy to approach me asking 'taxi? you want taxi?'

55 euros o/w to Popova Shapka. 20 euros o/w to Skopje city, so a bargain. And that's for the car not per person.

Pissing down with rain all the way to Tetovo, and as we climbed out of the city the rain quickly turned to sleet and then snow.

Got about a third of the way up the mountain road before the city taxi's tyres failed. Reversed back down to the nearest junction and back in to Tetovo to swap to a taxi that had winter tyres.

First driver tried to bamboozle me with the payment but once he knew I was wise to him, it was all good.

The new driver drove up like a legend.

House / techno all the way up even though he was in his late 60s. English language radio programme from somewhere in the Balkans. Nocturna. Shape shifters.

Rain, to sleet, to snow again although the freezing level had dropped since the first attempt.

By the time we got to Hotel Slavija there was 5-10cm on the road.

I sent an email the day before to the hotel saying I was on my way. Fair play as soon as I arrived, they put 2 and 2 together and had my single room booking ready for me.

26 euros a night single B&B. Free wifi throughout the hotel including my room.

One of the two resort / energy company / government owned hotels.

A little worn, but clean and warm. Staff were great. Food solid and cheap.

Hotel Slavija, Popova Shapka

Had a chicKen sandwich and a a 20cl bottle of T'Ga Za Jug Vranec, Macedonian red wine. Fabulous. Sat with two policemen / security watching a Macedonian variety show and then an English language show nature about tigers in the background.

Just three people staying in the hotel tonight. Met one other, Joe. From N California originally, most recently just outside of Washington D.C., working in Pristina, Kosovo. Here for the weekend with a friend, Erin. Another American working in Pristina.

Emails done it was time for bed.

Snow was continuing to fall outside the window and balcony, and my first day skiing looked very promising.


Slept really well. Very quiet room and hotel, hardly surprising really with just three guests!

The sound of the plow, a beautiful scraping noise to wake up to. Men talking, shouting beneath my window. The light gradually beating the battle against the dark. The snow falling steadily and softly, straight down. Each shovel stroke moving medicine ball size cakes of light snow.

Met four different guys (staff) this morning. All friendly, all said good morning with a smile. Eastern European lack of service a myth for me.

The music in the dining room took me back:

Back on the Chain Gang - Pretenders
Luka - Suzanne Vega
Strong Procession of Love and Hate
Everybody - Blues Brothers
slavic rap a la Linkin Park

Breakfast today was black coffee, goats's cheese, boiled egg, two sausages, white bread, butter, marmalade, honey.

Chatted over breakfast with Joe and Erin. She originally from Connecticut. Both working for Deloite. He privatising energy company. She getting Kosovans to pay taxes.

Erin is also a writer. Her latest project on the Hormel "Spam" family. Very interesting.

Walked down to the t-bar and skied a couple of runs with Joe and Erin.

Day pass 800 MCD (approx. 13,5 euros)

Not much visibility. Snowed lightly throughout the day with fog rolling in every so often.

The base was old snow and submerged foliage with the odd rock thrown in for good measure. And yes I was thrown a good few times. Where the new snow had settled on a good base the skiing was great. 20-40cm of light powder depending on aspect and wind transport.

Some good terrain with a very accommodating pitch.

By day's end it was chopped and hardening crud where people had been skiing.

Met up with and skied with Vihren from the TGR forum and his three Bulgarian friends (viktor, Aleko) and a couple of Macedonian lads.

I was 1 of only 6 who were allowed to the top of the mountain today courtesy of Rasho from Skopje and his connections. It's who you know, not what you know.

Pretty ropey up there though. Like skiing inside a golf ball.

Great company and a great day.

Finally got my first day on the new gear.

Was most recently skiing Full Tilt Bumblebee Pro boots on 173cm Blizzard Titan Cronus (123-88-115).

Changed to Dynafit TLT-5 Performance boots, and Dynafit FT12 bindings mounted on 173cm Movement Jams (136-85-117).

One word. AMAZING

Best first day in new boots by a country mile.

Stiff as I need and better performance than my Full Tilts.

Felt like I could turn on a sixpence. Pivotting was a dream. So too laying the skis on edge and carving on-piste.

No blisters or skin rub. One hot spot on my right foot on the top most part of the arch. Easily rectified once I can get the liners sorted.

It was about -2 C and this is the least my feet have sweated in any boot. Normally soaked by days end. These liners felt a little damp and that's it.

Also love the upright cuff. Suits my skiing style.

The walk to and from the lifts was a breeze. Thank you Dynafit. Highly recommended.

Movement Skis were excellent. Light, turny.

Spent the evening at the Hotel Konak with Joe, Erin and the Bulgarian boys eating pork chops and drinking home made wine and raijki. Great night.


30cm approx of new snow overnight.

The view from my balcony looking down towards the lower mountain

Looking up to the off piste terrain off the top lift

I skied with the Bulgarians again

Viktor outside the Hotel Konak (ski-in, ski-out hostel. 4 to a room. 10 euros a night)

Popova Shapka's tagline is "We have snow", and they did.

Went to the top and skied some great terrain and snow.

Aleko on our first run from the top


Yours truly

On our second lap we came across two boarders one of whom, Elena, had hurt her back landing on a rock.

We had to use her snowboard as a backboard and called in the piste basher to take her to the base.

There was no ski patrol at Popova Shapka to organise and undertake her transport off the mountain.

Elena was conscious throughout and in great pain.

Vihren translated and I immobilised and supported her neck as we first carried her to the piste and then took the trip on the piste basher to the base where we were met by an ambulance and a man from Mountain Rescue for that part of the world who had been called in.

She turned out ok. A crack in her pelvis & cocyx, internal bruisng, and bruising of the bottom two vertabrae.

1 week in hospital and a month of recovery.

Thankfully our actions on the mountain prevented further damage.

After a quick bite to eat we headed back up the mountain and skied some great snow in the sunshine.

Our tracks from the morning

Vihren (pic taken by Viktor)


Yours truly (pics taken by Viktor)

Dinner at Konak with the boys. Pork chops and loads of wine for 20 euros a head. Excellent.

The head of Mountain Rescue called in and got the wine in for our efforts which was much appreciated.

I was the only person staying at Hotel Slavija that night.
latest report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person

Another 10-15cm overnight.

The top lift was closed because of wind, so we did laps on the t-bar. Knee deep and face shots.

Last day for the Bulgarians. Great guys. Hope to ski in Bulgaria with them soon.

? (pic taken by Viktor)

Aleko (pic taken by Viktor)

Vihren (pic taken by Viktor)

? (pic taken by Viktor)

Yours truly (pic taken by Viktor)

? and Aleko at Konak

Viktor and Vihren at Konak

Had dinner at the Hotel Slavija.

The hotel is owned by the electrical company. It was built in 1987, and no real work done since it opened.

Breaded karchkavall cheese with mayo, olives, lemon and cucumber. Excellent

T'ga za jug vranec wine.

Steak, mushrooms, chips and mixed veg. Nice to see green and yellow veg. Good but I'll go with pork next time.

For the second night I was the only person staying at the hotel.
snow report
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Looks interesting, but only 10km of pistes if this link is to be believed - is terrain a bit limited?
ski holidays
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Pistes are varied and interesting but not many of them.

Loads of off-piste terrain. Untracked all day, and the next day after that, and the next day after that Smile
ski holidays
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
How much hiking was required to access the off-piste?
snow conditions
 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
None to 1 hr to access all the front side
snow report
 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Superb Mike - Great write up and adventure.
Though did I see a pole plant Wink

I had a friend who went ski touring in Albania and rated it highly.
When the weather lines up the right way they can apparently get a lot of snow off the adriatic.
You obviously scored!
snow report
 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!

From the Bulgarians, definitely Smile

Yep snowforecast was spot on. Western Europe was hurting at that time.
snow report
 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.

0cm of new snow overnight.

A beautiful sunrise this morning.

The view from Hotel Slavija

Hotel Slavija

Hotel Bora, HQ for Eskimo Freeride cat skiing operation

Broke the remote control for the camera early on so scenics only as I was skiing solo today.

The terrain looker's left of the highest chairlift

The terrain looker's right of the highest chairlift (with the Eskimo Freeride cat skiing access road far right)

I managed to make two laps into the bowls looker's right of the highest chairlift before the guests from Eskimo Freeride butchered it.

Great pitch with decent vertical. Plenty of surface sloughing though.

Sunshine all day. Great powder. Hiked for about an hour above the highest chairlift and skied a line no one had managed all winter (according to the guys in the hotel). Due to snow conditions, not ability.

At the peak I met two Macedonian mountain guides out on a hike. One bought me coffee and raijki back at base. Top bloke.

The terrain on the backside of the mountain looked superb and would offer weeks of touring possibilities.

But with no skins on me today I was heading back to base.

Looking down the line

The line (far left) from below dominated by Ciripasina (the big rock) which Erik Roner and Nena, head guide for Eskimo Freeride, ski base jumped off.

I'd skied the line far right the previous lap.

On the way back to the hotel I visited the church that's beside the piste and next to Konak.

Amazing interior and the first time I'd seen a building so ornate on the slopes

After a big day a big dinner back at the hotel.

Pork stroganoff, mixed veg, special sausages (zule) and chips.

The Macedonian Special Forces rocked up at the hotel this morning. 30 of them. All in black combat gear with sub-machine guns. Sentries on duty 24/7.

Friendly bunch though.
snow report
 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads

0cm of new snow overnight.

The wind woke me up before the sun and with the chairs swinging on the cable I thought the top chairlift wouldn't be running. I was right, it didn't move all day.

So I skinned the mountain at sunrise.

2.5 hrs to get to the top. Amazing terrain off the backside. That's where Eskimo Freeride should be going.

Skied off the telegraph peak, then above the rocks and round past the couloir I skied yesterday. Epic.

Got back in time for breakfast and then chilled all day.

Took a walk around the residential part of the resort. Some nice properties. Will have to see how much a season rental costs.

Tried to have dinner at Bora and catch up with the Eskimo crew, but no pasta /pizza Wednesday.

Walked around to Nomi. A new place. Open a couple of weeks.

Owner was in Geneva (spoke with him on the phone). Staff are Macedonian and Italian.

Great service, lovely restaurant.

Penne with mixed seafood. Macedonian merlot. 2 bottles of water. Espresso. 700 MDR. About 12 euros.

Older Macedonian fella showed me around the rooms. Very plush. 40 euro per person per night. 30 if I'd booked the week.

He'd worked in the Sheraton, Arlington Heights, Chicago for 7 years. He remembered visiting Popova Shapka in the 70s (76 I think) and all that was here were the two hotels (Shapka and Slavija).
snow report
 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.

0cm of new snow overnight.

The top chair opened today. Sunny for a while with wind affected powder.

But still plenty of untracked and unaffected powder all over the mountain.

Lost my left ski at the start of the day. Found it an hour later over 200m away from where I lost it. Phew.

Did the traverse skier's right off the top chair to ski the Ciripasina area and thankfully got in ahead of the Eskimo Freeride crew.

Eskimo Freeride head guide Nena waiting for the group to catch up

The terrain beneath the top chair

Bluebird, no wind and not a cloud in the sky at 11am. Dumping and 200m vis at 2pm

It's coming down Smile


Snowing and blowing all night, light bitty snow. But around 30cm by 10am

From my balcony I can see two Macedonian flags. Depending on the snowfall and wind I can determine what the day will be like and whether the chair will run.

No lifts running today.

Talking with the hotel staff after breakfast I found out the resort was built in 1956 - no accommodation, just barracks for the army.

It was earmarked for 1982 Winter Olympics but that went to Sarajevo.

The Hotel Shapka opened in 1983 and Hotel Slavia in 1987.

No real investment since then hence no development.


No new snow overnight but 30cm or more of untracked up there from the last 48 hrs.

Last day on snow and with the possibility that the top lift might not run again I booked a day cat skiing with Eskimo Freeride last night.

Eskimo Freeride

195 euro for the day, lunch included.

Cold, sunny and clear up top. Luck was on my side.

Met the guides Nena and Siggy at Hotel Bora and after a quick transceiver drill we were off up the hill.


We made two laps on the front side with Nena ski cutting the wind loaded bowls and outskiing the slough, before spending the rest of the day skiing the trees on the backside of the mountain.

The top section is open bowl skiing running into mature conifer forests.


Great operation. Very relaxed with a good group of 8 in the cat.


Early start for the airport.

The hotel ordered the taxi for me and the driver was there bang on time.

Smooth as silk changing money, checking in and heading home.

Fabulous area with some great terain and when I was there great snow conditions.

The biggest problem with the resort is if the top double chair is not running then the terrain is very limited. It's liable to wind closure. Much like Las Lenas, Argentina when the Martes lift is closed.

Then it's definitely worth doing a day catskiing with Eskimo Freeride if they have spots.

But you don't know if they're going to keep the lift closed until after 9:30am which is 30 mins after Eskimo starts for the day.

However, if the lift is running then my experience this week has been that I've been skiing most of the terrain that Eskimo uses AND hiked to stuff they haven't been hitting.

Even though the chair is slow I've still been able to get 4-6 laps of the upper mountain each day the chair's been open (typically 10ish to 2 ish). As the weather improves I'm sure they'll run it longer.

The lift ticket is 15 euros and 1-day with Eskimo is 195 euros. Although the cat is faster than the chair, they're not getting 13 times more runs a day than I am.

If you're experienced off-piste with the appropriate gear, working out where to ride will only take a couple of runs.

Was hoping to hit Brezovica, Kosovo on this trip, but unable to organise cheap transport for the day.

This is a great overview of what you can expect in Macedonia.

Lift, skinning and Eskimo Freeride

Bon Appetit : Mission Macedoine
snow conditions
 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Cheers for the write up. Sounds tempting.
ski holidays
 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Pleasure. Highly recommended.

Doing the second TR, this time Kosovo and Montenegro.
snow report
 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Not great news:
ski holidays
 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Mike Pow, really enjoyed your report and pictures. looked like an amazing trip. Another Snowhead directed me here after I mentioned that I was thinking of heading out there to do some cat-skiing with Eskimo. Interesting that you covered so much ground without using Eskimo's services.. though personally, I wouldn't have the confidence to do much of that on my own.. am a bit lazy too so would be glad of the Cat, I think Wink Really beautiful pics.
snow conditions
 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Thanks. Great place. Highly recommended.
snow report
 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Best thing i've read on here in years, thanks for making the effort to post in such detail
ski holidays
 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
My pleasure. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Part Two

TR: Western Balkans Part II - Brezovica, Kosovo; Savin Kuk & Kolasin, Montenegro (February 2011)
latest report
 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Thanks Mike. Really enjoy the read. So many places to go. Did you go there alone then?
snow conditions
 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
fabricem wrote:
Thanks Mike. Really enjoy the read. So many places to go. Did you go there alone then?


Yes went solo, and met up with 4 Bulgarians from the Teton Gravity Research forum for 4 days.
snow report

Terms and conditions  Privacy Policy