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Climb Every Mountain

Not all of us are agile enough to scale rock faces and hack our way through walls of ice, but for those who want to try their hands at extreme sports then Bulgaria offers a vast range of mountain faces large enough to challenge the most daring of climbers.  A climbing holiday can be taken at any time of the year and can be combined with sightseeing or other sports like skiing and hiking. There are so many beautiful locations in Bulgaria ideal for climbing – from the Rila and Vitosha Mountains to the Sredna Gora, Rhodopes and Balkan ranges. If you are a novice to this sport there are several clubs, which offer tuition and instruction. The Bulgarian Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (BCMF) can provide you with information detailing organisations and destinations guaranteed to enhance your mountaineering holiday.

In days gone by climbing was simply a matter of scaling a rock face to reach the highest point, but today it has branched into more specialised fields, which address different features including ice climbing, boulder climbs and alpine climbing or mountaineering.  One thing is certain no matter , which branch you choose, you will need to be in good health with plenty of stamina and a good degree of overall fitness.

Traditional Mountaineering

The best areas for traditional rock climbing can be found in the mountains near Vratsa, Veliko Tarnaovo, Lovech, Shumen, Sliven, Lakatnik, Bozhenitsa, Karloukovo and Varna.

Varna is perhaps not the first place one would think of when deciding on the perfect location for rock climbing, but the Wonder Rocks or Chudnite Skali on the right bank of the Kamchiya River close to the village of Asparuhovo are perfect. The rocks are shaped like tall, sharp pyramids and from a distance they look like the ruins of an ancient castle. Another rock formation to the south of the Chudnite Skali on the banks of the Tsonevo dam looks like a pig’s head.

Another great climbing location close to Varna is Divdyakovo near Shumen. The spectacular Shumen Plateau offers lots of climbing routes with a total of 15 in Divdyakovo alone. The best time to scale one of these rock faces is any time between spring and autumn.
The Mountains of Vratsa are particularly challenging especially the area left of Leva River. This place is home to the Central Ridge, which offers a height difference of up to 250 m. There is even a climbing garden in the vicinity with plenty of short ascents from the Malkata Vrattza crag.

Alpine Climbing

Alpine climbing is tough and requires stamina and skill. You must be sure of the level of difficulty you are about to tackle before you embark on any alpine climb. The Maliovitsa region has some particularly good alpine routes and it is possible to climb here all year round. It is located in the Rila Mountains close to the ski resort Borovets, 83 km from Sofia surrounded by thick pine forests.  Maliovitsa peak is the most renowned mountain for climbing here but there are also around 12 more well-known crests. Views are spectacular particularly if you can see the Strashnoto Ezero or Fearful Lake or the Mecha Poliana or Bear’s meadow, which lies at an altitude of 1,720 m. There are several climbers huts dotted along most routes and a guided climb of five peaks including the Maliovitsa will cost you approximately 200 lv.

The Vihren region of the Pirin Mountains is also a good place to take an alpine climbing course. The Vihren peak is the Pirin Mountain’s highest peak and the country’s second highest at a height of 2,914 m. This climb will cost in the region of 215 and 270 lv.


Boulder Climbing

Boulder climbing originated in 1880 and is a form of climbing where the climber attempts to conquer rock rather than achieve great heights. The sport has grown in popularity particularly over the last five years and international competitions in this field are now commonplace. It is a good sport for novice climbers with far shorter climbs than traditional climbing. Vitosha Mountain near the capital is perfect for wannabe boulder climbers because it contains many dried up river beds now known as stone rivers. The museum town of Koprivshtitsa is also another great location, but if you prefer to be nearer the coast try Kamen Bryag to the north of Varna.

Ice Climbing

This particular branch of climbing attempts as the name suggests a strenuous ascent up walls of ice scaling everything from snow capped mountains, cliff and crevasses to waterfalls. The height of winter is obviously the best time to practice this sport as frozen waterfalls provide some of the most challenging climbs.  This is a sport for the experienced climber only but many say it provides the most exhilarating climbs. In Bulgaria, places like the area around the Seven Rila Lakes or the Boyana waterfall in the Vitosha Mountains, which is 15 m high and situated at an altitude of 1,260 m. Other challenging waterfall climbs can be found at the Skaklya and Pruskaloto waterfalls. Organised ice climbs cost around 100 to 160 lv. for a weekend of training and climbing.