Rock Climbing in Bulgaria

The most resourceful and large, from any point of view, place for Rock climbing in Bulgaria is the Vratsa area - called "Vratsata". It is situated in "Stara Planina" mountain (Balkan Mountain), near Vratsa town and at about 300-400 m altitude.

Vratsa Central Wall 
The limestone of the Vratsa  Central Wall and rock pillars offers infinite possibilities for the climbers, whether they want to climb some of the multiple and various routes, or they prefer to open and equip new routes. As a whole  the area resembles the area of Verdon in France. There are three guide books  with photos, schemes, and explanation about the rock routes etc. They are: "Vratsa - Alpine Routes", "Alpine objects in Bulgaria", and the newest and the most  adequate one issued in 1987 "Vratsa rocks" - authors: Nikolay Petkov and Ivan Maslarov (issued only on bulgarian). In the last one there are about 116 alpine rock routes described. The maximum grade for free climbs on UIAA mentioned in this book is VIII (1987). But this doesn't mean that there are not possibilities for greater or new re-graduation of ome routes, because most of them are made before the free climbing style has been opened. So from one side there are a lot of place for free climb interesting and already equipped (or at least figured) routes, and on the other hand there are a plenty room for making absolutely new exquisite and elegant free climbing or aid climbing style routes. The most interesting and challenging from all possibilities in the area is The Central Wall". It's high about 450 meters and is almost pure vertical. It's huge and large, and offers all kinds of the rock technical phenomena. The best time for climbing is the spring season- end of March - June and also September - October. In the summer the temperatures are pretty high, the Wall is white and faced South-East, so the the radiation of heat is still greater and makes the climbing almost impossible.



The climbing ethic requires from the climbers, doing the premier ascents, to place natural assurance points, and bolting only at the places for free climbing where no other things is possible to be placed. For the aid climbing the international ethic is accepted. Almost all the premier ascents on the wall have been made for more than one day, with bivouac or rappelling. There are some international routes made by germans and Yugoslavians. The famous one is the "The way of Arnold" (VII, VII+, 1985) made solely on the Central Wall by Bernd Arnold and graded. Other challenges in the area are the innumerable rock pillars, towers and ridges around the Central Wall. Their height is from three rope lengths up to 10-12. They also offer enough places for free attempts or new routes. As a whole the rocks are stable and big rock falls are rare. But as on every big wall someone always should care about the falling and not stable stones especially near to the top of the wall. The equipment needed is as for the big wall in summer (if not on premier ascent - bivouac equipment is not necessary). There are hotels near the climbing area, but the best choice for accommodation is camping (non organized and free) at the bottom of the rocks. There are river, meadows, forest, all completing the marvelous atmosphere of the area.

Another big area for rock climbing is in Rila mountain in "Malyovitsa" region. 
The altitude of the rocks is from 2000m. to 2800m. There are number of granite rocks and walls in the area. All of them are accessible from "Malyovitsa" mountain hut for half to three hours walks in the summer. The area and Rock resembles "High Tatras" in Slovakia or "Egui de Shamonix" in France. The highest grade for free climb is about (VII+ UIAA, 1985), but the same thing about graduation, as for Vratsa rocks, is valid here also. The most interesting place are so called "Devil's needles", situated on the banks of the "White" and "Devil" colors near the peak "Zliyat Zab" (malicious tooth), near the mountain refuge "BAC", situated at two hour walk from the "Malyovitsa mt. hut.

The height of the rock pillars is from 100 to 300m. approximately, with all the typical granit forms. Near to this place is "Dvuglav" with its 450 meters south wall. The area is incredibly beautiful with all mountain lakes, peaks and forms. As for the Vratsa area, there are enough place for free attempts, or new routes. But here the atmosphere is high mountain one, and sometimes, even in the summer, snowfalls and low temperatures are there. So the climbers should have this in mind when thinking of equipment. Camping is also possible at most of the places.

Another Climbing area similar to that in "Malyovitsa" region is placed in Pirin Mountain. Pirin Mountain is probably the most beautiful mountain in Bulgaria and the altitude is similar to that of the Rila Mountain, but it's forms are somehow more sharp and alpine. The main areas for climbing are the karst area of "Stapalata", the "karst ridge" and peak "Vihren". On "Stapalata" there is much routes and many possibilities for new one, the lenght of the walls are 200 - 350 meters, limestone.

  The granite rocks are situated in the are of peak "Jangal" and "Kamenitsa" near the mountain refuge "Tevnoto Ezero".


Here the routes are less climbed due to the fact that Pirin mountain is not as near to Sofia as Rila, and also here Rocks are not at one place, but at many different areas, and the access to them needs more time.

But In spite of all these facts, the climbing here could be of great and unforgettable significance with it's calmness, oneness and virgin beauty.

For boldering in Bulgaria on routes on higher grade up to (X+ UIAA) and not higher than 40-50 meters there are a lot of areas in Bulgaria , but the famous ones are: The "Lakatnik" limestone rocks - situated on 1,5 hour by train (or drive) from Sofia; "Veliko Tarnovo" limestone rocks - around the city of Veliko Tarnovo- 3 hour drive from Sofia; and "Kominite" - granite rocks in Vitosha mountain - half to one hour (walk and lift )from Sofia. All of them offer diversified and multiple possibilities for rock climbing at extreme grade, and all of the routes

 in these areas are well equipped with bolts and rappel ways. There, of course, are a lot of possibilities for new routes, but as a rule, they should be in free climbing style, and could be equipped with bolts if necessary. Chalk is admit able everywhere in Bulgaria.

There are a number of rock areas in Bulgaria,(otherwise famous) but not touched yet from climbers, or just opened for pioneers with few neew routes. Such are the Area of "Karlukovo", "Belogradcik Sandstone area", "Kamen Briag" (Very attarctive, because it is on the sea cost), "Krushuna whater falls", The Trigrad area in the Rodopi mountain etc..Some of them are very easily accessible, other not so, but their potential for sure in future will call for so called "Booms" in climbing. Our club "Extreme" works in these areas and the information for the new routes and schemes will simultaneously be published.


The youngest free climber
  (Rummy -2 years old)