Trip report from our ski touring trip to Rila Mountains – hut to hut style, in March 2014.
It wasn’t the best season in terms of snow – actually the winter of 2014 was pretty dry, with no significant snowfalls until the middle of February. This was valid for most of Europe. The Alps didn’t see so much snow except their southern parts in Italy, where 4-5 meters of snow were measured. Not fair, ah? In Bulgaria a small compensation was the nice sunny weather, we had an enormous amount of bright days in the mountains – nice for enjoying the panoramas and taking photos.
The plan of our Belgian group with a Bulgarian guide was to spend 6 days ski touring in Rila Mountains, the highest on the Balkans with Mount Musala (2925 m). Sleeping as high as possible, in mountain huts, away from civilization, even if we have to carry some of our supplies. Taking local transport and eating what we carry and what we can find in the area away from the touristic places. No snow? We’ll see…
Day 1: The Seven Rila Lakes: The snow line starts above 2000 meters, but we felt more like in late spring than like in the middle of winter. Nice views around Rila Mountains and towards Vitosha Mountains, circular tour in the area and some spring like conditions to ski, including some crust.
Day 2: Today we ascent up to 2300 at Ivan Vazov Hut – quite deserted in winter, located in a valley deep in the mountains. The hut keeper is not always there in winter, but we were lucky this time – we had some hot tea and our room heated by the wood heater.
In the afternoon of that day, before the “romantic” dinner on candles we skied the slopes of Mount Otovitsa (2697 m.) Nice skiing in melted soft snow back to the hut.
Day 3: Malyovitsa area – we crossed the mountain, following the main ridge and finally descending to Malyovitsa Hut. Two nice runs – from Mount Dodov and from Mount Malyovitsa to the hut (-800 meters), and a few hours touring up and flat along the ridge with great views. Spring conditions – hard snow in the morning, melted in the afternoon, crust at the shady places.
Day 4: We were lucky to have a snowfall during the night and the mountain looks completely different in the morning. A powder layer above the hard snow made our descent from Mount Bezimenen the best run for the whole trip!
Day 5: Today we climb Mount Musala – the highest in Rila Mountains and the whole Balkans. We’ll sleep in a meteo station on the top of Musala! After taking a local bus to Borovetz ski resort and than the gondola lift up to nearly 2400, we skied down one of the not functioning ski runs in order to catch the trail up to Musala.
Day 6: Our last day, run down from 2925 to 1300 – following the slopes of Musala and finally the ski runs of Borovets. Time for a shower and never trust the pesimists!