One of the most active mountaineering associations in the wider Dinara is HPK St. Michael, a relatively young and enthusiastic associatons from Šibenik, which has so far achieved a number of enviable results in its mountaineering work, from climbing through descents to construction, largely on the Dinara.
The Croatian Mountaineering Club St. Michael (Hrvatski planinarski klub Sveti Mihovil – HPK Sv. Mihovil) was founded at the end of 1995 by a group of mountaineers with many years of experience who decided with great desire and will to implement new ideas and activities in their field. The club was founded with great perseverance by the first president of the new society, Zlatibor Prgin, who tragically passed away on the Club’s expedition to Aconcagua (6950m) in 1999. The club has about 250 members.
After seventy years of intermittent mountaineering in Šibenik, the founding of St. Michael was the beginning of demanding ascents in foreign mountains, which laid the foundation for the development of Šibenik’s high mountain hiking, mountaineering, paragliding and speleology.
Zlatko Prgin – a shelter with a view
The key facilities in the mountains are shelters – places of rest, security and socializing – and one of them was built on the Dinara thanks primarily to the great efforts of members of St. Michael Club. In 2019 the mountain shelter Zlatko Prgin (1543 m above sea level) was opened at the south slopes of Dinara. It is situated in the beech grove near Bukvina vrh, at the intersection of the trail that goes from Brezovac to the top of Dinara and the trail that leads from the hamlet Mirkovići, better known as “Yogurt trail”, named after the first president of the Club.
It is a residential container with an attic that can accommodate 10 people and is constantly open. It has a wood stove, table, benches and lighting, and a connector for charging mobile phones. A small tank was built next to the shelter and has been in use since November 2021. From the shelter and its surroundings, there are beautiful views of the Dinaric plateaus Duler, Samar, Brezovac, and there is an especially beautiful view of Podinarje and the town of Knin and the peaks Promina, Kijevski bat, Svilaja, and the more distant Velebit peaks Sveto brdo and Crnopac.
The shelter was built by hard volunteer work of members of St. Michael Club, with the selfless help of the company Proautomatika from Šibenik, with the assistance of HGSS Šibenik Station, HGSS Split Station, PU Dinaridi and the helicopter action of the Transport Helicopter Squadron 93rd HRZ-PZO “Tovari” Divulje.
The president of the Club regularly invites members to labor activities at the shelter vicinity, and in the fall of 2021, the lining of the container with wood began, in order to further protect it from cold and wind.
On the trail of St. Michael
The trails managed by St. Michael are the already mentioned “Yogurt trail” from Mirkovići to the shelter Zlatko Prgin and the newly renovated trail from Ošljak to the shelter. This restored old and marked trail will be on a new map currently being made by HGSS cartographers.
St. Michael Club traditionally participates in the Oluja path, on which they have often been the most numerous mountaineers for many years. St. Michael also traditionally organizes a winter ascent on the Dinara from Mirkovići, on Saint Stephen’s Day (December 26).
Speleology – dozens of explored pits and caves
The speleological department of St. Michael operates in the area bounded by the roads connecting Strmica, Knin and Vrlika and the western edge of the Cetina field. On parts of Dinara within Šibenik-Knin county, speleologists from HKP Mihovil have explored in 55 speleo-objects, mostly at the upper parts of Dinara.
The most successful research of the Dinara area conducted by speleologists of St. Michael Club were those in the cave system of the Gospodske špilje – Vrela Cetine (total length 4982m), Kotluša Cave (length 4507m) and Rudelić Cave (length 1382m), all large flowing objects. The research of these objects on the west side of Cetina filed was started by speleologists from PD Željezničar from Zagreb, numerous national and speleologists from abroad got involved, including St. Michael’s speleologists. They have also found and explored the 749m long Duliba cave in the Krčić canyon, which is completely submerged for most of the year, and through which a significant air flow was recorded, which indicates the prospect of further research. Very close to it is the cave Mala duliba, 115 m long.
Of the longer horizontal speleological objects, the 186m long cave in Šobotovo Točilo stands out, as well as 105m long caves on the hiking trail between Glavaš and Martinove košare, the 127m long system in Čekrkske rupe and the 156m long Štemerica cave, north of the highest peak of the Dinara, also the deepest pit of the upper part of Dinara with a depth of 106m. St. Michael also topographically photographed the cave under Topoljački buk, 234 m long, one opening of which serves as the entrance to the hydroelectric power plant, and in which they found several dry and underwater entrances, and which was formed entirely in tufa.
The largest number of speleological objects are vertical objects – pits, entry into which is possible only with knowledge of the use of ropes and the use of special speleological equipment. Speleological activity of St. Michael’s speleologists on the Dinara is focused on the area of Šibenik-Knin County, but they have also explored a little further east – in Vodena peć (length 713m) and Golubinci near Ruminski vrtli (176m, -91m).
In addition to data on speleological objects in which they researched themselves, the speleological department of St. Michael also collects data of all the research of all speleologists in the Šibenik-Knin County, so their archive contains data on about thirty other objects from the vicinity of Kijev and Glavaš.
St. Michael’s speleologists will continue to explore the top of the Dinara – from the top ridge to the border with BiH, where there are a dozen unexplored pits drawn on maps.
St. Michael initiated HGSS Šibenik
The initiators of the establishment of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service of the Šibenik (HGSS Šibenik) are mountaineers from the St. Michael Club and about 20 St. Michael members are also members of HGSS. The first trained mountain guides with passed professional exam founded the Šibenik Mountain Guides Station.
The results of work, endeavors and achievements of St. Michael Mountaineering Club:
– 2005. The plaque of the City of Šibenik for the development of mountaineering and speleology
– 2008. The plaque of Šibenik-Knin County for the development of mountaineering and speleology
– 2007. Recognition of the Executive Board of the Croatian Mountaineering Association for the best website of HPS members
– 2013. The plaque of the City of Šibenik for the development of mountaineering, speleology and mountaineering
– 2013. Bronze badge of the Croatian Mountaineering Association for the contribution to the development of mountaineering
– 2016. The coat of arms of Šibenik-Knin County for promoting the values of healthy living among young people, protection of cultural and natural values of the City of Šibenik and Šibenik-Knin County, and for numerous sports activities
– 2017. Recognition of the Executive Board of the Croatian Mountaineering Association for the most successful mountaineering association in Croatia among 345 registered mountaineering associations at the Croatian Mountaineering Association
– 2019. Recognition of the Executive Board of the Croatian Mountaineering Association for the best work with young people
– 2019. Construction of the Zlatko Prgin mountain shelter on the Dinara
– 2020. Recognition of the Executive Board of the Croatian Mountaineering Association for the greatest contribution to mountaineering journalism for the Helop magazine.
St. Michael club also edits and publishes a specialized yearly magazine Helop – ISSN 1848-3224, which is being given for free. Check it out on the link below – http://www.sv-mihovil.hr/stranice/helop/9.html.