Ski touring in Bulgaria, Rila and Pirin national parks
Bulgaria has 4 main mountain groups: the long Balkan chain (Stara Planina) which extends from west (bordering Serbia) to east for about 500 km, with the main peak of Mount Botev 2376 m; the small Vitosha massif 2292 m a few km south of the capital Sofia; the Rhodopes range in the south of the country, on the border with Greece, with the maximum elevation of Golyam Perelik 2191 m; and finally the Rila and Pirin groups 50-100 km south of Sofia, with peaks reaching almost 3000 m.
Rila and Pirin are undoubtedly the two most interesting destinations for ski mountaineering in Bulgaria. The mountains are rather harsh, with steep sides and nice coluloirs. There are also several ski resorts (the main ones are Bansko in the Pirin and Borovec in the Rila) and a number of huts, but mostly closed in the winter season.
Here we propose a week of ski mountaineering in the Rila and Pirin groups, with daily tours from the valley or from the hut, plus a great traverse. The vertical gains are an average of 1000-1500 m, with the possibility of partial ski lifts utilization. Snow pack is often abundant, with powder snow until March, but very variable according to micro zones, and very subject to the action of winds. .
The trip can be made even more enjoyable by some cultural and tourist extensions; in particular a visit to the famous Rila Monastery (Unesco heritage) and possibly to the capital Sofia cannot be missed.
*** ON REQUEST ***
mixed tour freeride and ski touring in Bansko and Borovec.
Arrival in Sofia with international flight. Collection of the rental vehicle. Transfer to Samokov, in the northern part of the Rila National Park (about 60 km) and then to nearby Borovec 1350 m. Overnight in hotel or guesthouse.
Borovec is the second largest ski resort in Bulgaria after Bansko, with excellent off-piste possibilities. With possible partial use of the lifts, there are several ski mountaineering tours of interest, with peaks at altitudes of approximately 2800 m, that can be combined in the same day. The most attractive goal remains the classic climb to Mousala 2925 m, the highest peak in the country, with possible descent (for skilled skiers) of Devil’s couloir on the north-east side. Overnight in Borovec.
Short transfer to Goverdatsi and then to the small ski resort of Mecha Polyana 1730m. Ascent to the Malyovitsa refuge, well known by rock climbers in summer. Depending on the conditions, we can opt for the classic ascent of Malyovitsa 2729 m, a characteristic and particularly slender peak, or the Malka Malyovitsa 2698 m with optional descent of the Chimney couloir, or else the Golyam Kupen 2731 m via the steep north side. west. Overnight in Borovec.
Short transfer to the Rilski Ezera chairlift, then with skins to the splendid 7 Lales amphitheater. Ascent to the summit of Otovitsa 2712m, with optional descent of the steep “Steve Wonder” couloir on the northeastern side of the mountain. Overnight at the 7 Lakes refuge at an altitude of 2196 m.
Nice traverse to reach the famous Rila Monastery, located at 1146 m in the middle Rila valley. This large 10th-century building, declared a Unesco heritage site, is worth a visit without haste. In the meantime, we will have organized the transfer of the car left the day before in Rilski Ezera. Overnight in hotel or guesthouse in the valley.
Transfer of less than 2 hours to Bansko, on the northern edge of Pirin National Park, the most important ski resort in Bulgaria, featuring an attractive old town and thermal pools. We climb Mount Todorka 2712 m, with possible approach by ski lift, then a nice descent on the north-west side to the Vihren refuge 1950 m where we spend the night.
Ascent and descent of the splendid summit of Vihren 2914 m, second elevation in Bulgaria after Mousala, descent into the valley with return to the starting point of the day before. Overnight in hotel or guesthouse in Bansko.
Transfer to Sofia (about 150 km), return of the rental vehicle and flight back to the country of residence.
*** VARIANTS OR EXTENSIONS ***
In relation to the snow conditions of the mountains and the access roads, and the needs of the participants, many alternative or multi-day trips can be made, in particular from Bansko:
> Monte Kutelo 2908 m, a characteristic pyramidal peak with various descent lines, including steep ones, and Hvoinati 2690 m;
> Bezbog 2645 m and Polezhan 2851 m, in the eastern area of Pirin, with ascent from Goce Delcev (partly by chairlift), and possible traverse to Dobrinishte;
> a unique spot for lovers of couloirs: west side of Strajite ridge (Bezbog – Polejan area);
> freeride days – off-piste skiing with use of the lifts, in Bansko and / or Borovec;
> Rila and Pirin raid in 6 days: Rilski Ezera – 7 Lakes refuge – Rila Monastery – Mont Tsarehureh – Bodrost – Mont Ismailitsa – Predela – Iavorov refuge – Kamenitsa 2726 m – Vihren refuge – Banderitsa 2633 m – Sandansky refuge – Golina 2633 m – Melnik
*** OTHER SKI MOUNTAINEERING PROGRAMS IN THE NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES ***
> Greece: ski touring in the national parks Vikos, Pindos, and Olimpos.
-> CONTACT US
to request a customized program or for ski mountaineering trips to other areas of Bulgaria, or to neighboring countries including Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Romania.
Trip dates, Duration, Departure
The period of time given in the trip description sheet is indicatively the most recommended for optimun conditions for the planned activities. Different periods are possible, especially during season with special climate situations. Duration is referred to the “standard” programme as per description sheet, however it could change according to the local conditions and/or the team’s requirements. If the trip is included in the Scheduled Trips list (yearly planner), the departure date is the one given in the planner; otherwise it will be decided according to the requests we have received. In any case we suggest to contact us for more precise information. In customized trips, departure date and duration are established according to customer’s request
By means of the scores given in the trip decsription sheet we wish to provide an indicative assessment of the challenges to be expected, divided in the following three categories:
Grade 1: adult performing a minimum sport activity (4-8 hours/week), or teenager in medium fitness conditions
Grade 2: adult performing sport activity (8-16 hours/week) or teenager in good fitness conditions
Grade 3: adult performing regular sport activity (16-20 hours/week) or teenager in very good fitness conditions
Grade 4: adult only, regularly performing sport activity and intense training (more than 20 hours/week)
Grade1: no prior experience in the activity is required, just a natural predisposition
Grade 2: prior experience in the activity as beginner to medium level
Grade 3: prior experience in the activity at medium to high level, with regular practice since min. 3-5 years
Grade 4: excellent technical skills with long experience in the activity (more than 5 years)
Grade 1: no prior experience in adventure travel id required, just a positive attitude to adapt
Grade 2: prior, yet limited, experience in adventure travel, with a strong attitude to adapt and determination
Grade 3: prior experience in adventure travel including remote area and wilderness, or extreme wheather, or uncertainty in route finding
Grade 4: prior experience in adventure travel including remote area and wilderness, or extreme wheather, or uncertainty in route finding, strong determination to overcome unforeseen events
The type of accomodation as planned is indicated in the trip sheet (hotel, lodge, tents, etc..).
The means of local transfers are indicated as planned (flight, bus, 4WD vehicle, ferry, etc.). Some changes are possible in relation to the actual availability on site and/or the terrain and wheather conditions.
Service included and Prices
We do not have a price list. Quotes are sent on request only. Details of services included, excluded, or optionally available, will be specified in the quote and confirmed at the time of booking. Prices depend on number of participants and on the specific requirements of the group. They will be definitely set at the time of booking after definiton of all trip details and confirmation of dates. Special prices can be granted according to number of participants, and/or for pre-established groups, clubs and associations, guides with own clients, active athletes, tour operators and travel agents, journalists, physicians, rescue operators, schools, staff of organization running an humanitarian or research project.