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If people have heard of Bosnia and Herzegovina (that's one country, by the way), it's usually due to the brutal conflict that took place there in the early 1990's. Unfortunately, that legacy of ethnic violence seems to have displaced the country's more universal heritage as a Winter Olympics host. Yes, the 1984 Winter Games took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina's lovely old, Ottoman-style capital, Sarajevo. Cold weather and an abundance of mountains are the two basic prerequisites to be a Winter Olympics host and Sarajevo indeed has both. Due to the negative image that Bosnia and Herzegovina's war casts on the country and the lagging infrastructure there, it's not terribly high on many travelers' bucket lists. However, the mountains there are big, beautiful and relatively under-explored, making the country a great place for a ski touring adventure.

I had the opportunity to take a ski tour on Crveni Kuk Mountain with Scorpio Tours, which operates out of Zenica. I'd recently purchased a pair of Rossignol S3 skis in the US that I outfitted for ski touring and I was keen to try them out while spending a month with my girlfriend in Sarajevo. I had heard that Bosnia and Herzegovina has beautiful mountains and discovering that Scorpio offered ski touring trips, it seemed like a perfect way to get out and explore.

We hit the trail at about 10am and I was feeling pretty good about my decision to go with the Rossignol S3's as we ascended. It was a warm day out, probably about 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and cloudy at first, so the snow was soft, though not too heavy on top. The skis felt light going uphill and the 98 mm of surface area under foot gave me a nice plane on which to balance. They also showed some good flex and a lively bounce back, which really helped keep my momentum on the climb. 

I had mounted a set of 7TM AT bindings to the skis and they were just fine going up. At four lbs, they're slightly on the heavy side, but not so much that it was noticeable on Crveni Kuk's easy ascent. The uphill tour was mellow enough that I only spent a few minutes on the bindings' 33-millimeter lifters, which were very helpful for the short period I used them. Any struggles I might've had fall squarely on not getting myself in ideal shape and I can only imagine what a struggle it must've been for some of the guys who were on old-school equipment.  They say that a good craftsman never blames his tools, but they should try digging a tunnel with a spoon sometime.

We made the top in about two hours and after a quick lunch, photo session and a bit of basking in a coy, but radiant sun, it was time to reap our reward. The strong sun had given the snow pack some added weight, but I was prepared because I had 186 cm of wood core, 128/98/118 side-cut, spoon tip, Rossignol S3 mayhem to blast through the virgin white, sun baked cement mixer that lay in front of me. The skis were very stable going down hill and gave me good float in quicksand conditions. I set the power pin on my 7TM bindings to eight, so they were also strong on the descent.

As with all ski tour runs, the way down goes far too quickly and we were at the bottom in about 15 minutes. Being the first outing of the year, it was a one-run tour as our international crew was wiped by the time we got back to the van. We refreshed ourselves with Sarajevsko beers in the mountain house and reveled in the feeling that we were helping to blaze some future trails in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The country itself is off the beaten path and to dig a little deeper and get into the backcountry felt like a really special experience. Being on the top of Crveni Kuk, the ski potential in those mountains seemed vast and I hope to get out and explore a bit more in the future.

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