- Jeff Baierlein
Serbian Mountaineer Suffers Fatal Accident in Albanian Alps
Absence of Skilled Government Investigation Body or IFMGA Member Organization Reduces Likelihood of Investigation
Očnjak. Credit: SummitPost
On July 23, 2022, 41-year old Serbian mountaineer Daliborka Sokolović died while climbing in the Albanian Alps in the southeastern European country of Montenegro.
Daliborka was reportedly descending from the 2185-meter (7167 foot) peak of Očnjak (“Canine Tooth”), on a steep section of trail, when she slipped and fell.
Daliborka was a long-time member of Serbia’s Stara Pazova Mountaineering Association. She was remembered as a true friend and a person with a cheerful and positive spirit. A fund has been set up to support her family.
The Albanian Alps, also known as Prokletije, or the Accursed Mountains, are known for spectacular jagged karst ridges and dolomite peaks formed by the collision of African and European tectonic plates. They are considered the wildest mountain range on the Balkan Peninsula, and are a popular destination for tourists and mountaineers.
Daliborka Sokolović in the mountains. Credits: Printskrin/Facebook/Dusko Popovic, PSD Stara Pazova
Nenad Basa of Keep Moving Outdoor Adventures, a Serbian-based outdoor recreation organization, said that there was little discussion or debate on a public level regarding Daliborka's untimely death. Nenad, a graduate of Viristar's Risk Management for Outdoor Programs training, noted that the absence of a government body that addresses outdoor activities meant that an official investigation was unlikely to be held.
Serbia and Albania do not have their own mountaineering associations that are members of the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA), which establishes training standards and supports professionalization of the mountaineering sector. (In 2019 the East European Mountain Guides Association was established to support training and assessment for professional mountain guides in east European countries to IFMGA standards.)
In other countries, coronial inquests or other official investigations into fatalities in the out-of-doors provide an in-depth analysis by professional investigators, and lead to comprehensive recommendations for changes to the outdoor sector and government policy.
Montenegro, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy
Daliborka’s death follows the deaths of nine climbers due to a glacier collapse in the Italian alps earlier in the month, with the glacial collapse linked to rising temperatures due to climate change. Glacial floods, mudslides and other alpine hazards are expected to increase as the global climate crisis continues.