Ski touring in the Pirin and Rila mountains, Bulgaria

The Rila and Pirin Mountains in Bulgaria are made for ski touring. The highest peaks are slightly lower than 3,000 metres and the skiing is challenging and spectacular.

We will do tours in both the Rila and Pirin Mountains, south of the capital city Sofia. Here, you will find the highest mountains of the entire Balkan region and a dramatic mountain landscape with sharp ridges and jagged peaks. The tours are quite difficult and the skiing relatively challenging. We will walk an average of approximately 1,000 vertical metres up per day, with some very steep sections.

We begin the trip with some tours in the Rila Mountains, the most majestic mountain chain in Bulgaria. Located in southwestern Bulgaria, the Rila Mountains are mostly protected naturally through a reserve. The highest mountain here is Musala (2,952 m), a peak we will of course attempt to reach. Another interesting part of this mountain chain is around the mountain Maliovitza, where we will spend play time. Also located here is Bulgaria’s best known monastery, Rila Monastery, founded by John of Rila in the 900s and which has developed into a centre for mediaeval culture. We will visit here before leaving for the next mountain range, the Pirin Mountains.

This incredible region has about 80 peaks over 2,500 m.

With the modern ski resort Bansko as our starting point, we leave on a two-day tour in the Pirin Mountains. The goal is to summit Bulgaria’s second highest mountain, Vihren (2,914 m). This incredible region has about 80 peaks over 2,500 m. We will spend time in the Pirin National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. If we’re lucky, we might get a glimpse of this rare gem.

From Bansko, we will do a last ski tour to the mountain Kutelo (2,908 m).

A city with a long history and is part of the world heritage list, Bansko lies at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. Many of the building bear influences from monastery architecture and there are numerous fortifications. Despite its closed nature, the city is open thanks to the hospitality of its inhabitants. As a contrast to Bansko’s historical heritage, even Bulgaria’s most modern ski resort is in Bansko. From here, we will do a last ski tour to the mountain Kutelo (2,908 m).

There is no problem if you would like to extend your visit in Bansko.

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Departures

StartsEndsStarting pointPriceGuidePlaces available
2020-02-222020-02-28Sofia 1.090 EUR (excl flight)Local professional MountainguideYes

Trip facts

Trip length7 days
Group sizeMax 8 persons
Grading2B

Included in the trip

  • All local transports
  • Local mountain guide
  • Accommodation, 5 night hotel (double room), 1 night in a hut
  • All food except dinner on day 6 (no drinks)

The trip is sold excluding airfare, but we can help you with bookings if you wish.

Questions and booking

Do you have questions regarding this trip? Do you want to send us a notification of interest or make a booking?
Contact us on +46 31-707 00 80 or or send an email to info@pathfindertravels.se.

Daily itinerary

Day 1. Sofia – Guilechitza

We meet in Sofia and then wait for a transfer of about 90 km to Guilechitza, located in the north region of the Rila Mountains. We check into a simple hotel high up on the mountain at 1,500 m.

Day 2. Guilechitza (1,500 m) – Maliovitza (2,729 m)

After breakfast and a short transfer of about 5 km, it’s time to get on the climbing skins and begin skinning up towards the top of the mountain Maliovitza. We eat a bag lunch and after approximately five hours, we should have reached the peak. We then ski down and sleep in the same hotel as the previous night.

Day 3. Maliovitza – Popova Kapa (2,800 m) – Rila Monastery – Bansko

Today will be a tough day up. We begin early and start by getting up to the peak Popova Kapa at 2,800 m, which should take us around seven hours. We then ski down and after arriving at the minibus, we travel to Rila monastery. We contemplate in the monastery and pray to the snow gods before we continue our journey to Bansko, where we overnight at the hotel.

Day 4. Bansko – Polejan (2,851 m) – Demianitza hut

After a hearty breakfast, we pack for a two-day tour. After about a 20 km transfer on bumpy roads, we reach a long chair-lift that takes us up to Bezbog hut. From here, we walk up towards the peak of Polejan and then ski down to Demianitza hut. The last section goes through forest, so be sure to have some energy left at the end of the day. We overnight in simple dormitory, but the place’s charm is first rate.

Day 5. Demianitza hut – Vihren (2,914 m) – Bansko

We now have the toughest stage in front of us. The aim is to reach the peak of Mount Vihren, which we should do after about seven hours. From Vihren, we ski down to Bansko (about 2,000 metres of vertical drop) and rest at the hotel.

Day 6. Bansko – Kutelo (2,908 m) – Sofia

Yet another challenging day in front of us and this time it’s to climb the peak of Kutelo. The lifts help us gain some vertical metres and we go for reaching the peak right after lunch. In the afternoon, we pack our bags and travel back to Sofia, where we overnight in a hotel. We arrive during the evening, so it’ll be a late dinner.

Day 7. Sofia – Scandinavia

Transfer to the airport and time for the journey home.

Good to know

To get the best from the trip, you should be somewhat accustomed to the outdoors and in good condition. Ski touring means that you ascend the mountain with the help of climbing skins or crampons (also called alpine touring). Of course, snowboarders with snowshoes or similar are welcome to join along.

When you ski down, it’s good to have some energy left to enjoy the descent. If you’re in better condition, you will be less tired, which goes without saying. In general, we walk approximately 1,000 vertical metres per day at altitudes between 2,000 and just below 3,000 metres. You will feel the altitude, but this is no danger if you are not sensitive to high altitudes. We will walk at an easy tempo and adapt the pace to the group.

Skiing off-piste means that you ski on nature’s conditions. The base can vary from loose snow to an inadequate crust and everything in between. We don’t chance safety. The choice of both ascent and descent will be determined by the snow and wind conditions. With a high risk for avalanche or extremely windy conditions, it can happen that we are forced to completely alter our plans.

All ski and snowboarding equipment will be brought from Sweden. Regarding safety equipment, all members of the group should have an avalanche shovel, avalanche probe and avalanche beacon. Besides your ski equipment, you should have crampons, and good clothing and a winter sleeping bag are a must. We can help you arrange this equipment if you don’t have it yourself. We will test the equipment and ensure that everything works properly. Exercises in searching techniques with avalanche beacons/probes will also be conducted. The basic rule is to avoid an avalanche as much as possible.

During the trip, we will do one two-day tour with an overnight in a hut. The hut is quite simple, but the cosiness is high. Bring a suitable backpack for this overnight (about 40 l). You should have space for some clothing, lunch and the usual daytour packing. Bring a sleeping bag liner for the overnight. A sleeping bag isn’t necessary, since there are blankets.

Prior to your trip, you will receive further written information about packing and facts about Bulgaria. If you have questions, you can always contact us at info@pathfindertravels.se

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