Macedonia, Europe

Cat Ski in North Macedonia's Shar Mountains

Experience the ultimate downhill freeride adventure in the Shar Mountains of North Macedonia. Based in Popova Shapka, our tour offers three days of exhilarating freeride skiing and snowboarding, powered by catski. With an impressive 4000m+ average vertical descent per day, this is a dream come true for adrenaline-seeking freeriders.


Popova Shapka's north face is a hidden gem, boasting exceptional freeride terrain. The unique geography allows our catski to access summits and traverse ridges, revealing perfect powder runs without the need for ski touring or splitboarding. Its status as a well-kept secret means you can enjoy untouched terrain repeatedly throughout the day.


Experienced local UIMLA and UIAA mountain guides ensure every descent is a unique and unforgettable experience. They expertly navigate the terrain to find the best lines, prioritizing both excitement and safety.

 

✔ Three days of off-piste cat skiing in untouched terrain

✔ Four nights in a 4* Hotel with Sauna and Spa 

✔ All meals included 

✔ Expert guiding and avalanche safety equipment provided

✔ Convenient airport transfers

Day Itinerary

  • Join the group transfer from Skopje airport to Popova Sapka. Overnight at the Hotel.
  • After breakfast, the plan each day is to jump into the cat and be on the mountain from 09:00 - 16:00, stopping for lunch at midday, dependent upon the group's preferences. 

    You'll experience a minimum of 3,000 vertical meters daily, guided by your driver and two expert guides who will choose the best spots to explore. In the high mountains, you'll enjoy long descents, deep powder stashes, and thrilling couloirs. On days with flatter light we'll head to the forest runs. 

    After a quick debrief at the end of the ski day, enjoy some downtime and take advantage of the hotel's wellness area before dining at its restaurant, which offers a variety of local Macedonian cuisine options.

  • After breakfast, the group transfer will drop you at Skopje airport.

2025

Dates

Price

Wed 19 Feb
- Sun 23 Feb
£995 Book
Flexible From £995 PRIVATE GROUP Enquire

The price includes:

  • 3 days guided cat skiing 
  • 4 nights twin-share in a Hotel half board
  • lunches 
  • avalanche safety equipment 
  • airport transfers 

The price does not include:
  • travel to/from Skopje 
  • drinks 
  • ski rental 
  • personal insurance

 

Single rooms subject to availabiltiy and supplement. Please ask the office for further information.

 

  • Although our Off-Piste Adventure courses rely heavily on the lift systems in resorts, access to and egress from runs sometimes involve climbing and walking a short way and you may undertake 1 or 2 day ski tours, for this reason its best to have skis with ski touring bindings, skins and ski touring boots.

    • Ski Skins – these are skins which, now made of artificial fabric, stick to the bottom of your skis and allow you to walk up hill. They must be cut to fit your skis exactly, so if you are bringing your own skis you must provide your own skins.
    • Ski Crampons (aka Couteaux) - most ski touring bindings have ski crampons specifically designed for the binding. We always carry these just in case. Again if you are bringing your own skis and touring bindings you must provide your own ski crampons.
    • When skiing on glaciated terrain you will need a harness and occasionally boot crampons and possibly an ice axe. Your can guide can supply you with these items if you do not have your own.
  • We continue to see big changes in ski, boot and binding design and technology, which make off-piste skiing and ski touring much more accessible. For our Adventure courses, we prefer you to ski with” freeride” skis, ski-touring boots and ski-touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings but are suitable for off-piste then you are welcome to bring them with you. Downhill boots are also acceptable but please bear in mind that you will do some touring on ALL our Off-Piste Adventure courses so you made need to hire suitable skis and boots in a resort.

    Skis

    This winter our lead guides are using Elan skis. Praised by magazine testers and professional skiers alike for its unique blend of lightweight performance, the Ripstick 96 is proven to be the ultimate freeride ski in all snow conditions. The Ripstick 106 is the ultimate freeride ski for any terrain. From the boundary line to the base lodge, peak to the parking lot, and trailhead to tailgate this ski excels in all conditions. The new Ripstick Tour 94 is designed on a wider platform, enabling the skier to float better, ski faster, and turn easier in backcountry conditions.

    It is built to blend high performance at a low weight, for the perfect mix of freeride downhill performance and efficient ascending capability. With Ripstick Tour 94, the confidence to conquer long ascents and charge challenging descents is the name of the game.

    There are many ‘all-mountain/freeride’ skis to choose from and we also recommend skis from Salomon, Dynastar, Movement, Black Crows, Trab Skis, Scott and Volkl.  Look for a ski that is the right size for your height, typically the tip of the ski should be somewhere around your nose height.  As for the width of the ski or “side cut” a mid-fat ski – 90-110mm under the foot is a good place to start; this offers plenty of flotation off piste while remaining suitable for day tours and they should also handle reasonably well on piste and mixed terrain.

    Elan Skis: www.elanskis.com

    Dynastar Skis:  www.dynastar.com

    Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com                                       

    Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com/

    Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us/

    Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com

    Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com

    There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.

    If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.


    Boots
    For our Off-Piste Adventure courses its best to have a pair of ski touring boots – they have great skiing performance and with the Vibram soles, they are much safer for scrambling around on rocky or icy ground. However standard downhill ski boots are also acceptable. We do not recommend you come on a trip with brand-new boots.

    If you are going to be getting into off-piste and ski touring, then rather than having a pair of downhill boots and a pair of ski touring boots, we strongly suggest that you opt for a good pair of ski touring boots. With advances made in plastics, mouldings and materials in recent years you can now get a ‘hybrid’ touring boot that offers as much downhill performance and stiffness but they come with a walk mode and good flexibility for the uphill too. Many boots fall into the category "hike & ride" so a 3 or 4-buckle boot, walk mode, Vibram/grippy sole and possible Pin binding compatible.
    It just makes more sense - not only are they much more comfortable to walk in compared to ordinary ski boots, but they are also great to ski in too.

    Our guides are using ROXA boots. They recommend R3 ski boots, the lightest high-performance alpine ski boot in its class. The 110 TI is geared for big mountain chargers who may use “Tech” and/or Alpine bindings and often hike or skin to find their lines. The RX Tours is targeted toward skiers who prefer to blaze their own trail and leave the lift lines behind.

    Scarpa has led the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boots.

    • ROXA R3 and RX Tour ski boots provide a range of models suitable for all sorts of terrain and snow conditions. It is a family-owned company located in Italy, focused on advanced materials, and ultralight compounds and one of the first companies to use CAD Design software to design and 3D print prototypes.
    • Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole.  Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
    • The Scott Celeste and Cosmos boots have stood the test of time and are good all round choices.
    • Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
    • Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.

    The best of the rest are:

    Fischer - Transalp

    Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor

    K2 – Pinnacle boot

    Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa

    Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options

     


    Boot Liners
    These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit’ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner. Heated and moulded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit, they can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable
    ‘off-the-shelf¹ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.

    Custom Footbeds
    Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.

    Bindings
    We prefer you to have ski touring bindings on your skis for our adventure courses but if you have downhill bindings mounted on your skis then this is perfectly acceptable. The new touring bindings are every bit as safe for downhill as alpine bindings, yet you have the additional advantage of being able to walk uphill with them to access the real off-piste. Fritschi Diamir and Marker both have great bindings which can be used with ski touring boots and downhill boots. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers; they are light and offer ever-improving security despite their minimalist looks!

    Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago. Since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Elan, with its AMBITION 12 AT is a world-class alpine touring binding with innovative climbing technology, natural ski flex and proven downhill performance. The binding features the AT Toe, which can be easily adjusted to alpine (ISO 5355) and touring boot norms (ISO 9523), plus a 65 mm wide mechanical Anti Friction Gliding Element to provide constant release values. Our lead guides are using the Elan bindings this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Elan Skis a ring.

  • The “Safety Trilogy” - applicable for all our off-piste courses and ski tours.

    Avalanche Transceiver/Beacon 
    Snow shovel
    Avalanche probe

    We recommend simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+.

    Avalanche airbags/rucksacks – if you wish to ski with one of these on our courses you are welcome to do so, they are not mandatory but we always support the use of available safety items.
    You can hire avalanche rucksacks in a lot of resorts, makes are usually Snowpulse/Mammut, ABS or Ortovox AVABAG. Prices vary from shop to shop and resort to resort but a guide line price would be from €20-30 per day or around €100-120 for 6/7 days.

    Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
    How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out https://mountaintracks.co.uk/discipline/winter-mountaincraft

  • Good pair of goggles – essential. Useful to have 2 pairs on powder days in case of head plants! A pair with a lens for low light is essential in the event of snow and poor visibility
    Good quality sunglasses – UV factor category 4 recommended
    20-30 liter rucksack is usually suitable for most off piste skiing. Key features are a method of attaching your skis in either a A-frame (one either side) or both together on a diagonal ski carriage; easy access into the main compartment without having to empty the sack to get something at the bottom; separate pocket for avalanche shovel, handle and probe; small top pocket for items like wallet, sunglasses/goggles etc; an ice axe loop and possibly a built in rain cover and a secure method of attaching/stowing a ski helmet (if you use one). It’s essential that the pack has a good hip/waist belt and adjustable shoulder straps.
    Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used but please remember that they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack with cylinder in; so unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
    1-1.5 Liter water bottle – we don’t recommend hydration-systems (e.g. Camelbaks) as these often freeze in winter
    Suncream and lip salve (factor 30 or higher recommended.)
  • This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.
     
    • A good quality pair of ski trousers. They must be made from a waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore-Tex or similar. It’s useful to have some venting zips on the legs either inside or outside thigh or full-length side-zips. Integral snow gaiters and some pockets for handy items are good features.
    • An outer shell jacket made of waterproof and breathable material like Gore-Tex or similar with a built-in hood. We advocate the ‘layering principle’ and so a shell is recommended rather than an insulated jacket.
    • Comfortable underwear with good wicking properties. Very popular at the moment are the wool based layers from companies such as Ortovox. They are comfy, breathable, warm when needed and can be worn for days without your friends catching a whiff!
    • Several thin (rather than fewer thick) layers between your skin and the outer shell - an approach that gives better heat retention and good flexibility. These tops are known as ‘mid layers’.
    • Insulation layer like a down or Primaloft jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
    • Roll neck rather than a scarf. We use and recommend the ‘Buff¹ ¬ a light, stretchable tube. Excellent despite the name! They do both a fleece/cotton version for warmth or just a cotton one (to keep the sun off).
    • Headwear to include warm hat and sun-cap or wide-brim hat for extra protection from the sun. Mountain Tracks fully supports the wearing of helmets for skiing, although not mandatory for any of our trips we do recommend them.
    • Good quality, ski gloves or mitts if you suffer from cold hands and 1 thinner pair of gloves made from a softshell or fleece material if the weather is warm. These are particularly useful if you do any ski touring or hiking on the trip as thick gloves quickly become too hot.
    • Silk inner gloves can be useful if the weather is cold and you suffer from cold hands.
    • Technical Socks - Investing in good quality ski socks will improve fit, warmth and feel when skiing for long periods. Bring along a few pairs.
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Macedonia

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North Macedonia, nestled between Croatia and Greece in the heart of the Balkans, is a landlocked nation renowned for its breathtaking mountains and pristine lakes. The country boasts a rich tapestry of Ottoman and European architecture, reflecting its diverse cultural heritage.

The capital city, Skopje, is a vibrant hub of history and modernity, with a population of approximately 2.08 million. The main languages spoken here are Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Romani, and Serbian.

While North Macedonia may not be the first destination that comes to mind for skiing, it is home to the impressive Shar Planina massif. Stretching from Kosovo in the north to Albania in the south, this mountain range offers exceptional skiable terrain. The region features several ski resorts, including Popova Shapka, which is one of the most popular in the Balkans. Popova Shapka offers a range of slopes suitable for beginners to advanced skiers, as well as off-piste opportunities for the more adventurous.

The Shar Planina massif guarantees snow from January to March, ensuring optimal conditions for winter sports enthusiasts. The area is also known for its picturesque landscapes and serene environment, making it a perfect spot for both skiing and snowboarding.

In addition to skiing, visitors can enjoy other winter activities such as snowshoeing, sledging, and ice climbing. The local hospitality, combined with affordable prices, makes North Macedonia a great alternative to more crowded European ski destinations.

 

Flights from the UK to Skopje, North Macedonia, are available from several airports including London Luton, Gatwick, and Heathrow. Direct flights are primarily operated by Wizz Air from London Luton, with other options including indirect flights offered by airlines such as Austrian Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines, which usually require a stopover in Vienna or Warsaw.

Direct flights from London to Skopje are available on specific days: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Prices can be quite affordable, with some recent deals showing one-way tickets starting at around £43 and return flights from £77. The flight duration for a direct flight is approximately 3 hours.

Upon arrival at Skopje International Airport, travellers can reach the city centre by taxi for around 1200 den (approximately £16.80) or by bus for about 180 den (around £2.50).

For the most up-to-date and detailed information, including current prices and schedules, checking flight search engines like Skyscanner and KAYAK is recommended.

  • It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.

    For UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
    If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
     

  • The course fee includes a group transfer to/from Skopje airport.  

    We meet at 16:30pm at Skopje airport on the arrival day so you should arrive on a flight no later than 15:30pm. 

    On the departure day, we ask you to book a flight that leaves Skopje airport no earlier than 10.30am so there is time to travel to the airport. We will aim to be at the Skopje airport at 09:00am. 

     

  • There are a few ways to get to Skopje. Please do your own research to find the most suitable for you.

    Wizz Air run flights regularly from London Luton direct to Skopje airport. From Manchester and Edinburgh, Lufthansa, Edelweiss and Swiss all fly routes to Skopje with a layover in a European city. 

    Flight costs are not included in the price.

    If you have any questions on flight details, please contact us for futher information or guidance. 

  • ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) 

    1. What is ETIAS?

      • Starting in the first half of 2025, travellers from over 60 visa-exempt countries will be required to have an ETIAS travel authorisation to enter most European countries within the Schengen Area.
      • ETIAS enhances security by checking the details of travellers before they arrive.
      • It is similar to systems like the ESTA (USA) and eTA (Canada).
    2. Who Needs ETIAS?

      • Travellers with British passports or passports from other visa-exempt countries must complete the ETIAS process.
      • Holders of EU or Schengen Area passports or valid EU/Schengen Area visas are exempt.
    3. Application Details:

      • ETIAS costs a 7EUR processing fee, waived for those under 18 or over 70.
      • Validity: Three years from application, tied to your passport’s validity.
      • New passport = new ETIAS.
    4. Application Form Questions:

      • Basic personal details (e.g., passport info, name, address, citizenship, gender).
      • Additional questions during the process (e.g., criminal history, past travel, health).
    5. Application Fee:

      • 7EUR euros.
      • Electronic payment via debit/credit card.
    6. Approval:

      • Most applicants receive approval within minutes.
      • Valid ETIAS visa waiver for three consecutive years.

    Remember to apply for ETIAS approval to explore your favourite European destinations! More details will be confirmed by ETIAS authorities. You can find additional information at the following links:

     


    EES (Entry/Exit System)

    The Entry/Exit System (EES) is an automated IT system developed by the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems. Its primary purpose is to register travellers from third countries each time they cross an EU external border. Here are the key points:

    1. What is EES?

    2. Who Is Affected?

      • The EES applies to non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay (up to 90 days within any 180 days) to European countries using the EES.
      • Exemptions apply; for example, holders of EU or Schengen Area passports or valid visas are exempt from EES registration.
    3. Advantages of EES:

      • Saves time by replacing manual passport stamping.
      • Automates border control procedures for more efficient travel.
      • It helps identify travellers who overstay or use fake identities or passports.
      • Contributes to preventing, detecting, and investigating serious criminal offences.
     Remember, additional information about the EES system will be confirmed by authorities, including application acceptance details. For further resources, check out the ETIAS and the official EES website. 

      
  • To run this trip, we have partnered with Shar Outdoors. Founded in 2017 by UIMLA licenced guides and friends Mihail Solakov and Metodi Chilimanov, they have a passion for guiding in the beatuiful Shar Mountains, the same area where they first learn to ski. 

  • To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, all participants must meet the specified skill and stamina levels required for each trip, as outlined on the trip’s page at the time of booking.

    Please keep the following in mind:

    1. Trip Requirements: Before booking your trip, please review and confirm that you meet the necessary skill and stamina levels. These requirements are in place to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all participants.

    2. Guides' Discretion: Our guides and instructors are dedicated to maintaining the highest safety standards. They have the authority to exclude any participant who does not meet the required skill or stamina levels or whose participation could compromise the group's safety. This decision will be made with the utmost consideration.

    3. Responsibility for Costs: Should you be unable to continue with the trip due to inadequate skill or stamina, any additional expenses incurred will be your responsibility.

    We appreciate your understanding and cooperation. Our goal is to provide a memorable and safe adventure for everyone. If you have any questions or concerns about the requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    For further information please refer to the Terms & Conditions

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