Ascent of Musala on 2008-07-22

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Bob Packard
Date:Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:9596 ft / 2924 m

Ascent Trip Report

Musala, 2925m, P2473m

Map: Rila tourist map, 1:50k (Double-sided) – 50m contours, Cyrillic and English

Stats: 1500mH, 12mi

Time: 22 July 2008, 6h ascent, 4.5h descent.

Start: 6mi N of summit, 1km SW of Borovets, small picnic site at S apex of bend, roadside parking. Elev 1400m

Route: rough driveable track, initially NE side of stream, crossing it 3x, then staying W side for 1.5mi. At one point there is a major track fork L, crossing the stream. The trail follows this L for a few m then is signposted (“Musala” in Cyrillic) through trees: alternatively it may be simpler to stay on the main rail which bends R then L. At 1950m the track leaves the trees and crosses to E side of stream: Velchevo Mostche bridge, picnic table, a few mosquitos, also a water fountain which was dry. Follow track until just before it crosses to W side of stream (ski lifts). Before the ford, look out for Musala sign and narrow trail on L, which climbs up thru scrubby pines, levels off, crosses pasture then levels off to cross to W side of stream. After 100m ascent the “Musala” refuge is ahead, beside a small lake. Trail passes W side of lake, climbs steeply, climbs past another 3 small lakes, crosses a boulder field, to reach the “Everest 84” hut beside the highest lake. Trail passes R of hut, then a choice: follow rocky ridge (mild scrambling) or easy trail to its L. These choices converge, climbing final stony part of ridge to summit,

Difficulties: YDS 2 (2+ on final ridge variant)

Triangulation point: concrete column, square in section, approx 40x40cm x 1.4m, with colours of Bulgarian flag on S face, and top face bearing two survey-related plaques, giving elevations of 2971m (2005) and 2925m (2008).

Summit: beside the trig pillar, a manned meteo station, and a modern building probably comms-related. Intermittently misty with views down into the fine NE cwm, and S and E to other decent-looking summits, fairly reminiscent of the Scottish Cairngorms, UK.

Notes: after climbing Olympus 2 days ago, we took the early Thessaloniki – Sofia train, picked up a hire car at the station, drove to Borovets, found a cheapish hotel (Breva, 3-star) then checked out the trailhead, also the potentially route-shortening Yastrebets gondola, which we discover doesn’t run Mon and Tues, so not an option. Overnight was thunder and heavy rain. The morning was initially dry and clear. We started walking at 06:15. Reaching the Velchevo Mostche bridge we soon found ourselves walking in cloud. Soon after arriving at the Musala refuge (no sign of warden or food; a large new refuge under construction) a thunderstorm started, with heavy hail for 30 minutes. We donned waterproofs and left the refuge when the worst was over: we continued to the summit in dry weather, arriving at midday. We heard thunder again an hour after leaving the summit, although rain held off until nearly back at the car. Heavy storms continued overnight. We left early Weds a.m. for a 6 a.m. flight from Sofia to Palermo, ready to climb Etna 2 days later.

There is a set of photographs on
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5003 ft / 1524 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route:Normal route via Musala hut
    Trailhead:From N: Borovets trailhead  4593 ft / 1399 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 30 Minutes

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