Ismael Sali Brucaj (2527m) appears as a big tooth that rises steeply out of the jar formed by the Majet e Zabores Range – also known as Zabores e Krasnices or Krasnicka Planina. It separates the western part of Valbona from Lugina e Motines, the valley that leads up from Dragobia and is linked with a ridge to the Albanian Alps third highest mountain Grykave te Hapta (2625m).
Between Brucaj and Cet Harusha (2421m) a Karst plateau is located on a height above 2000m. This area called Bjezh, was examined in 2009 by Polish cavers, who discovered on an eight day expedition 327 new caves. The only ascend route which doesn’t require technical climbing starts from near Hotel Margecaj, just above “Holiday Park” Fusha e Gjes, and follows the talus field between the mountain and Gruk e Hapt.
Initial part on road, followed by short shepherds trail and a lot of talus ascent with one easy climbing spot to the col between Ismail and Gryka te Hapta. Beautiful views in every direction.
Date of this record:
about 5:45 hours up / 3:45 down = 9:30h
Initially you stick to a road that you leave at a junction to head for Zhari i Gjes (a summer pasture)- this is as far as you go by car. From there keep to the sheep’s tracks for a short sequence through the forest until you a reach a clearing. Take to the talus on the left and look for the path, which can be difficult to spot and changes about every year.
Our track is a bit off, please keep that in mind. The gradient is steep but one is being compensated by the beautiful views to the Jezerca massif and it’s many peaks as well as Qafa e Valbones (Valbona Pass). Gaining height you can observe the other peaks of the Zabores Range. Once you arrive at the cave you’ve done the most exhaustive part of the climb.
Shortly afterwards a small grassy field follows, that makes for a nice camp spot and nearby snow fields secure water supply – perfect for experienced climbers that like to scale Gryka te Hapta. The ascend route to the ridge between both mountains is visible from here. At the base of it a short but not difficult climbing section (!) of 2-3m height awaits.
Onwards the hike is straight forward, climb the ridge and aim for the 1st peak, the highest point is not yet visible but after all easy to find. An strenuous but rewarding hike with amazing views in many directions.
While shorter in distance and with slightly less elevation gain compared to Maja e Roshit (2524m), the trail should still be considered more demanding to due the lack of well trodden paths and overall difficulty of the terrain.
You can save around 1,5km distance and 150m elevation gain by taking the car up to the last accessible point.