17 hairpins and mine risk on the road to Bjelašnica
Bjelašnica is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 2.056m (6,745ft) above the sea level, located in the Sarajevo Canton of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Set high in the stunning Dinaric Alps, the road to the summit is extremely challenging. It’s totally unpaved and loose gravel makes ascent a slow one. The drive has seventeen hairpins before reaching the top. A large radar site was constructed near while a communications center and tower were constructed next to the weather station on the summit. There you can also find ruins of former hotel. During the ascent is possible to see buildings destroyed in the war. A 4x4 vehicle is recommended, but it’s almost suitable for passenger cars.
The steep trail to the top (whose name was derived from word "bijelo," white in Bosnian) is dry and rocky. Starting from Lukavac, the road to the summit is 7.8km (4.8 miles) long. The elevation gain is 707m and the average gradient is 9.06%, hitting a 15% of maximum gradient through some of the ramps.
The drive is very scenic and offers stunning views. On the top there is amazing view to Sarajevo and surrounding area. The last section is very nice with the opened view to Treskavica and Visočica mountains. Always check the weather forecast before you start your journey: adverse conditions are common. The best time to drive to the summit is during summer, late spring or fall. Before the ride check the snow conditions. Strong wind can make snow-drifts even 15m thick. Upper plateau is under the snow from November till April - in hidden parts snow remains whole year. The wind can make it difficult to move, so you should be extremely careful.
Bjelašnica was a place of serious combat during the 1992-'95 Siege of Sarajevo but extensive de-mining activities have taken place around recreational areas and especially around the existing ski runs, hiking and bike trails. Some people strongly advise against any offroad riding because of the land mine situation. It’s considered completely safe however, an experienced guide is always advised.
Pic: Dzevad Hadzihasanović