This, in many ways, special mountain is located in the northwestern part of Herzegovina, between Jablanica, Tomislavgrad, Posušje and Prozor-Rama. It rises above Dugo Field, which separates it from the mountain Čvrsnica, and Duvanjsko Field is on the other side. The area of Dugo Field is adorned by Lake Blidinje, and near it is the Ski Center Risovac.
The name of the mountain is associated with its dark appearance when viewed from the foothills. It is a rocky boulder made of limestone and dolomite with sparse vegetation in the lower parts, conifers, dwarf juniper and munica adapted to survive in scarce conditions.
There are many karst sinkholes and valleys on its slopes. On the way to the top there is a spring “Hajdučko vrilo”, which is known for never drying up. This mountain is located in the center of the “wind rose” and is always exposed to strong winds.
Numerous myths and legends are associated with this mountain, which in the distant past was a refuge for hajduks and uskoks. The most famous hajduk is Mijat Tomić, who fought against the Ottomans in the 17th century with his company of 33 hajduks. There is also a well-known legend of Diva Grabovčeva, a shepherdess of exceptional beauty who ended her life on this mountain by refusing to marry a young bey.
Some of these traditions are kept in the motel “Hajdučke vrleti” which is the central place of the Blidinje Nature Park and the center of the so-called “Hajduk Republic of Mijat Tomić” where the annual competition of liars is held.
The highest peak is Veliki Vran, and it is located at 2,074 meters above the sea level. The ascent to Veliki Vran starts from the already mentioned Dugo Field, at the foot of the mountain. There is a medieval necropolis of tombstones, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is quite well preserved because the place is uninhabited. The view of the top of the mountain from the foot gives a discouraging impression of climbing, it seems distant and invincible.
Indeed, this climb is a great challenge in winter conditions for more experienced hikers for several reasons – the height difference of the climb is about 1,000 meters because the base from which it moves at a height of about 1,000 meters, is covered by juniper plants and Bosnian pine, with its knotty roots makes the terrain difficult to walk and especially when everything is covered with snow.
For the same reason, sinkholes, and smaller pits, of which there are many, are also very inconvenient due to possible decays through the falling snow. The wind is extremely strong at the top due to the mentioned “wind rose”. Because of all this, mountaineers often decide to go on a winter hike – on skis or snowshoes.
But for true mountaineering enthusiasts, this climb is worth the effort because from the top of Veliki Vran, which is marked by a pile of stacked stones and hiking signs, there is a magnificent view of the Dinaric Mountain ranges that stretch as far as the eye can see. From this place, on clear days, you can see the already mentioned Blidinjsko, but also Ramsko and Buško lakes.
Text and photos: Adela Ambrožić