Mountain Rumija and Carolina Caramia: together between the sky, the lake, and the sea

As if it has always been waiting for her. Rumija, the southernmost mountain with one of the most magnificant viewpoints is now a personal trainer of a brave girl from Bar, Carolina Ilich. New times and new occupations, even for the mountain. And it adjusts. It wants to be a part of one great story about conquering mountain tops.

Yes, you’ve read it well. Carolina has managed only in one year to conquer several mountain tops: Elbrus (5642m), Grosslockner, Mont Blanc, Polux, Triglav, and even 5 peaks of mountain Olympus in one day! There is no better person to make my plan come true with – visit Rumija, a mountain famous for it’s amazing views, but also for it’s historical-religious significance for Montenegro.

We met in front of the Orthodox Church and got in her car right away, because I was afraid that my car just won’t be able to get us there. And indeed, after the asphalt road that led us through the olive and citrus trees, we’ve reached the macadam road.Carolina often looked back, checking that the exhaust pipe was still with us.

The road itself was already an attraction: from herds of goats, hunters and trucks we went by on the narrow road, to phenomenal landscapes we enjoyed in.

And then, finally, we’ve reached our destination – Dobri do, about 1000 m above sea level. There I saw an unreal scene: a Russian-style monastery, in a completely unexpected place, a bit like a scene from a fairy-tale. I was instantly drawn to it. “We will visit it on our way back,” said Carolina, and I was already wondering if I would have the strength to come back here later.

So we started to climb. Carolina chose a goat path that was inaccessible, instead fo a macadam road that led directly to the top. I told her in a joke: “Carolina, you missed the way.” She didn’t let my words confuse her, and without hesitation she gave me the sign to follow her. Right there, at the very beginning, it became clear to me that this is no joke for her, and that she is the type of person that always chooses the hard way.

After a while we bumped to an older, experienced couple from Slovenia, who were on their way to the top, same as we were. Later on I will be challenged and motivated to get to the top before them, but to be honest, we did have had an initial advantage: while they were putting on the necessary equipment, we’ve exchanged a few words and got on our way.

It was’n long before I became aware that the terrain was steep, inaccessible, and with lots of sipar (small stones that roll under your feet as you walk). I am watching Carolina who rushes in front of me, as if it’s just a game for her, and I am thinking to myself that I am way better on high heels on flat terrain, than in sneakers on this kind of terrain.

Fantastic landscapes of Rumija
Fantastic landscapes of Rumija

I ask for a time-out, but in vain. She makes me go on. She can feel that everything is breaking inside me and that I’m a bit regretting my decision to come here.She gives me a useful advice along the way, to use the stairs that the nature has given us. Nevertheless I would want the ones like these back at home.

Along the road I became aware that I am the first person she has ever taken to the mountain. She says: “You will be happy when you get to the top and I will be happy when you get down from the mountain.” In order to drag my thoughts away from an enormous effort I am putting in climbing, she tells me with excitement how in love she is with the mountains, which make her reconsider everything, move boundaries and shows her what people are truly like… She talks about future undertakings and difficulties to raise funds. This brave, unusual woman wants to be in many things the first and the only, the pride of Montenegro. She wants to go further and higher: the next expedition is demanding (both physically and financially) and it will take her to the highest peak of South America, Aconcagua at 6962 m!

Crisis again. Carolina is cheering me on. She wants to show me the view from the top before the clouds come. The wind isn’t helpful at all, but it’s the mountains best friend. Along the way a nice view of Bar is starting to show, as a reward for my efforts and as only a hint of what’s coming next.

We can hear that the Slovenians are coming closer. “You’re not going to let them pass you?” –  she asks me. She looks at me as I catch my breath and finds another way to motivate me: “You know, this is a regular road for the procession on the St. Trinity day. The priests climb to the top in their mantles, while carying a cross and chanting, and you can’t! “. I am telling her that that is completely impossible, but than, as I look around to see an alternative and easier road that goes to the top, I slowly understand that there’s no such road. That was the right thing for her to say to me! Watch out cruel mountain top! Here I come!

I continue to climb, thinking of the cult of St. John of Vladimir, the first Montenegrin Orthodox saint who succeeded in uniting all three confessions in Bar in a unique procession. Every year on Holy Trinity day, his wooden cross, with which he was executed in 1016, is brought to the top of Mountain Rumija. Every participant of the procession is obliged to bring one stone and leave it at the very top, where once the church was located. In accordance with belief, when enough rocks are collected on the top of Rumija, the church will rebuilt itself, with God’s help.

While imagining this fascinating scene I got to the part of the road where the view of the Skadar lake shows for the first time. It appeared magically from nowhere, almost at it’s full size, the lake whose shore was the core of the first Montenegrin state.

I could not hide my enthusiasm, especially knowing that the view would be even more spectacular from the top. This thought has given me the adrenaline to overcome the hardest part on my way to the top – a steep and rocky terrain.

The goal is not far, but it’s pretty high. The climb is attractive and challenging. After a few hundred meters, we spotted a tin Church which indicated that we were close.The Church was placed on Rumija in 2005 by military helicopter. I could not get rid of the impression that the man had interfered with the work of God.

Church on a sunny day So we got to the top at last, after an hour and forty minutes of climbing! I was overwhelmed by the sense of satisfaction. The feeling is indescribable, not only because of the spectacular view, but also because of the pride that I had felt! What was only a cardio training for Carolina, became a real stunt for me.

Soon I started to envy her on having the pleasure to enjoy these views so often that she and Rumija became one. “This is my mountain”, said Carolina. Despite the cold, the wind and the clouds that allowed us to enjoy the view only partially, showing Bar at times, sometimes Skadar Lake or  the ridge of Lisinj (Carolina’s favorite part of the mountain), the experience was unforgettable. I forgot all the effort I’ve put in to get to the top.

Lisinj the southern ridge of Rumija, or as Carolina says “the spine of the mountain”…

The Slovenians got to the top too. They threw a stone each on the pile of stones around the Church, the pile that was getting bigger and bigger for centuries now. We’ve found out that it’s their third time to climb Rumija. We wanted to know why they chose Rumija, when the north of Montenegro usually attracts the hikers. The answer was more than satisfying: the north of Montenegro reminds them of Alpes, almost the same scenery as the one they got at home, in Slovenia. Rumija is something completely different and challenging. These two people, in love with the nature and hiking told us a lot of their experience in Montenegro. Captain’s lake left a great impression on them: “Every time we see it, our heart trembles and the amazing beauty makes you wannna cry”… It sounded so good that I thought to myself it could be my next destination.

Anton and Marietta Chop at the top with us

The top of Rumija is spacious and safe, the highest between two water surfaces, so nothing distracts the view. On a clear day, one can see so muchfrom here: the Lisinj, the southern ridge of Rumija, all the way to Buna river, Prokletije, Skadar Lake (from Skadar to Vranjina), Kuca planina, Komovi, Durmitor, Orjen, Lovcen, Vrsuta …

And then came the harder part, climbing down. “Do not trust a stone, or the ground” Carolina warns me. She says I should only trust myself. She waits for me while I’m putting a lot of effort to climb down a well known path. This time, the Monastery that we’ve left behind motivates me to keep on. I have seen a lot of monasteries, but never the one like that one, with unusual architecture for Montenegro and completely unknown to me.

After a short bell ring, nuns opened the Monastery door. A dog accompanied with seven cats welcomed us as if we were old acquaintances, such an unusual crowd! From one of the Russian speaking nuns, we found out that it is a women’s monastery of Sv. Sergei Radoneshsky (Russian saint and miracle worker) whose construction, with difficulties, lasts for 10 years now. Only four nuns live in this Serbian Orthodox monastery and they wait for the completion of construction works on monastery cells, when the Monastery will finally shine at it’s best.

I want to thank my colleague Carolina for a warm welcome, a phenomenal company and positive energy. Let’s hope that the Montenegrin flag will be placed on many mountain tops by her hand.If you want to help Carolina fulfill her dreams and be a part of her story of success, visit the link:

For new challenges! Cheers!

Recommendations for conquering Rumija:

The ideal time: spring and autumn (too hard in summer due to heat)

Route: Medium hard

Markings: Clearly noticeable

Altitude difference: 554 m

Length of the track: 2,2 kmClimbing time: 1: 30h to 2 h

4 Replies to “Mountain Rumija and Carolina Caramia: together between the sky, the lake, and the sea”

  1. Another fantastic story and well done you for making it to the top, AND back down again !!! Don’t try and get me doing this climb when next I return to Montenegro.

  2. My earlier comment is still waiting ‘moderation?’ Just to say ‘Well Done You’ for making it to the top AND back down , all in one piece.
    Don’t try and get me doing this climb when I next return to Montenegro.

  3. Trying again as previous 2 ae ‘awaiting moderation’. Great blog, lovely scenery, but don’t get me doing it next year.

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