Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bulgaria - November 2012

Vratsa, Bulgaria

Sofia is a big city and our goal was to find the climbing shop but go read directions in a round about when its all written in cyrillic! You end up going around and around and around and just pick any exit and hope its the right way..

We found the climbing shop held by really nice people, the woman speaks french so she was helping us out and showing us all the topos online and telling us about all the nice areas: Vratsa, Lakatnik, Karlokovo and more.. www.climbingguidebg.com

We decided to go to Vratsa which is an hour North West of Sofia and found easy parking at the alpine house where people were setting up tents and it seemed to be the right place to be.

We are 5 min walk to the sport climbing routes and our morning view let us wonder which multi pitch to choose from. 

We will end up staying in this place for one whole month exploring as much as we can of this area.

Our first multipitch was on the Down Central Wall, the route is called Ivan Vazov a 110meter , 3 pitches, 7-. I was leading the 1st and 3rd pitch, it was exposed and scary but a nice feeling to have pushed myself!

We went for another multipitch, a short and easy one to climb on trad, was bushy, dirty and not easy to find the way,and scary... we definitely need more practice on trad!

We went to explore the area with our bikes and found a cave with sport climbing 10minutes up the road with overhang routes and big holds! yesss!

I found a project in this cave, my first 7a+ called "baby face", this route was appearently bolted for a local woman by her husband as a training route after their first baby, the route is very technical and balancy but also demands powerful moves... really nice route to start my way into the 7th grade!
Raffi found himself a 7b+ overhang which is his anti style, worked on it a little, and did it... In Style! :)

We found a really cool downhill trail,  above the cave that takes some time to access the top of but takes us down through the woods on some rocky trail onto a smooth dirt and steep trail down into the town of Vratsa.. We did this trail many times and though the approach is long and tiring, its so worth it for the downhill!

We were invited by a local couple to have dinner at their house; Valerie was walking his dog every day by our van parked at the Alpine House and he spoke german so him and Raffi would always exchange a few words and he told us about his son Valentino who studies in Sofia and who is climbing and whom we should meet.
So we got picked up one evening by Valerie and got driven to his house and there was a feast prepared for us; fresh vegetables from her garden, some rabbit, home-made bred, home-made wine, and home-made snaps!What a night!

We had alot of nice days but normally Bulgaria in November can be cold and wet, and it was! Our solution this weather to avoid freezing in the bus or spending the day in bed was : the sauna! We found a hotel with a sauna in the center of Vratsa where it cost only 10lev/5euro and we would spend the whole day there using the sauna, the pool, the wifi, and sipping on beer for less than 1euro.... Hotel Hemus became our fief for bad weather days.... :)

We rigged a highline that Raffi called "Fogbound" I need not to explain why.... It is 23meter long..

We have been waiting for the weather to get better but at this point winter is making itself more and more present and we've decided its time to head to Turkey. 
We made a stop in Lakatnik because it was on the way and one of the major climbing spots in that area and is for sure a place to come back to....

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