Change of Season

This winter has been great. The snow conditions in Bulgaria allowed us to get out every week. The interest in snowshoeing was high and we want to say a big thanks to everyone who joined us!

But now, the shoes have been put away until next winter and we’re in the UK until July.

The spring and early summer sees us working with schools and youth groups on their Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions.

Having been involved with this for around 10 years now, every year brings different challenges, but to us the rewards are high. Seeing young people develop and  enjoying the challenge a ‘D of E’ expedition brings is fantastic. Of course not everyone enjoys themselves on expedition, but without fail, those who haven’t, tell me they’ve learned something about themselves.

If anyone reading this is thinking about doing their ‘D of E’ or knows someone who is, please encourage them to do so. The Award delivers on a lot of levels, something for a Job CV or University application, a sense of self achievement or a springboard to the outdoors.

We’ve also got an eye on the summer back in Bansko. The plan is to do more of our popular Peaks and Ridges walks through July and August and this time to add in an overnight hut trip. I’m finalising the routes, so keep an eye on our website and social media for more details in late May.

thanks for reading,

Peter

 

In The Summertime

It’s been a busy summer for us in Bulgaria. The stats are in; we’ve hiked 637kms and  climbed    21 677 metres. Which is about the distance from Newcastle to Lands End and 2.5 times the height of Everest. We’ve had a wide range of clients, ranging in age from 10 to 68 yrs old. They’ve come from the UK, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Canada. We’ve worked with individuals, groups of friends, families, a student writing a dissertation on glaciation in the Pirin, a Youth Group and even a Mermaid!

 

 

“…Thank you to everyone who came with us!” 

We hosted 12 young people from the UK and organised and delivered a week of mountain activities for them, which included, hiking, biking and climbing, combined with a train ride, a visit to the Bear park and of course a mineral bath to relax those aching muscles.

It’s been great to share the mountains with all these folk, which for some of whom it was their first real mountain.

Thank you to everyone who came with us!

A proud moment for us was being able to donate 250BGN, our proceeds from two nominated hikes, to Trailsystem who are an NGO here in Bulgaria and do some great work to promote mountain hiking,  biking and running in the Pirin. They are involved in the organisation of mountain bike events, providing mountain bike training and working with partners to support ultra mountain running events. I think it’s safe to say that the Pirin National Park is both under resourced and under funded. The work of Trailsystem is in my opinion vital to promote the area so that it can move forward in a considered way, that both furthers its best interests and protects them. The place isn’t a UNESCO world heritage site for nothing after all!

 

 

    “…Peaks and Ridges”

Our summer programme of ‘Peaks and Ridges’ hikes was popular. Picking out some of our favourite places, people were able to choose a hike that suited their ability and goals. We took people who either wanted to bag their first summit or explore the Pirin more and others who tapped into our experience prior to tackling Mt Kilimanjaro. We intend to run the programme again next year, with some tweaks and new places to go. We’ve also been asked about multi day hikes, so stay tuned for next summer.

 

 

“…we’re thinking about the winter”

So now the weather is going all Autumnal on us we’re thinking about the winter.  If you’re out in Bansko between January and April next year, we’re planning on running snowshoeing days. If you haven’t tried it, snowshoeing is a great way to explore the back country. It’s good exercise and makes a  great alternative to skiing if you fancy trying something different. The days  will range across both ability and grade.  As it’s the winter, we rely on the weather playing ball, so will have to be more flexible about where we go and on what dates. Keep an eye on our web and social media pages for more details about where, when and cost.

 

 

But before all that, we’re off to Nepal…

 

A Walk in the Park

We’ve been coming to “the Park”, the Pirin National Park that is, for over 10 years now. We’ve explored the Alpine meadows and Mountain peaks that make up this beautiful environment.

Donchovi karauli (2633m)

The Pirin was given National Park status in 1962, when Bulgaria was still under communist rule. The government developed a network of trails, criss crossing the country and a series of huts and shelters along their length.

Today, mountain walking and visitor numbers are buoyant. Although it could be considered as the gateway to the Pirin, with regard to the outdoor enthusiast, Bansko is in no way developed in the same way as say, Keswick in England or Chamonix in France. There is no glut of retailers selling the latest brands, nor the associated clad hoardes.

The Pirin is a place of exploration. The mapping is not as prescribed as the Ordnance survey, so beloved by us Brits. The guide books are limited and there are certainly no lists of peaks to be ticked off.

 

Summer storms at Bezbog

Going into the mountains is an exillerating experience. Even in summer there can be violent electrical storms. It is no coincidence that the area is named after Perun, the Slav god of thunder.

The trails can require a significant amount of Boulder hopping and some of the summits are only achieveable via a narrow ridge.

In return for your efforts, the views and relative solitude of the area are just reward.  Not to mention the flora, fauna and topography. But that’s a whole other story…