Ascent of Musala on 2018-06-13

Climber: Brian Friedrich

Others in Party:Laura Friedrich
Date:Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Start at Home
    Elevation:9596 ft / 2924 m

Ascent Trip Report

We arrived at the Borovets ski resort the night before and stayed in an apartment in Hotel Flora, which offered secured parking - convenient as we left our stuff in the car before we wandered off for the mountain in the morning. As we needed to fly out the following day from Skopje (about 4h away), we were going to "cheat" and take the Yastrebetz gondola to save a lot of the slog up the valley. It turned out that the gondola wasn't running yet for the season, so off we marched.

The trailhead was easy to find from the road leading south up the hill and out of town. The first 7 or so km are a road hike that generally follows the creek with a couple of bridge crossings (marked by both spray-painted red arrows on rocks along the road and the odd white-red-white markers on trees). Just before reaching one of the ski lift stations that the road leads to, we leave the road and follow the trail markers into low shrub. This route is somewhat of a pain to navigate through, being rather tight and bushy, but was preferable to the swampy alternative that we ran into on the other side of the creek when we headed down (at least at this time of year). Once out of the bushy part of the trail, we crossed the creek to the W side again across a pair of steel I-beams and merged with the other trail and trooped on to a large lodge near the first of several small lakes to pass.

The path then climbed steeply to the SW into the hanging valley below Musala, and then veered somewhat SE to pass another couple of small lakes/large tarns on its way to a shelter just before the final ridge leading to the summit. The sky opened up at this stage and so we briefly ducked into the shelter as the heavy rain and hail passed. The ridge route was straight-forward to the top and the weather station. Once up, we got hit by the full force of the thundershower so we hung out in small lunchroom in the old meteo station and ate and drink a bit until it settled down.

About 30 mins later, we headed back down the ridge and 200m down, the lightning was suddenly much closer and struck the high ridges immediately E of us. Being an amphitheatre, the thunder was virtually immediate and deafening. Other than quickening our pace, we made sure to steer well clear of the huge steel posts and cable that ran down our ridge and were singing and buzzing with the current in the air. Once off the ridge, we simply continued along the trail all the way back down. The rain and storm were thankfully contained to the high alpine and we made decent time back through the valley and on to our car.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5806 ft / 1768 m
    Total Elevation Loss:5806 ft / 1768 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.7 mi / 23.6 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1 - Hike
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Thunderstorm, Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
TStorm while descending fr summit
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:5544 ft / 1689 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 5282 ft / 1610 m; Extra: 262 ft / 79m
    Loss on way in:262 ft / 79 m
    Distance:7.3 mi / 11.8 km
    Route:N Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Yastrebetz Gondola Village Station  4314 ft / 1314 m
    Time:3 Hours 43 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:5544 ft / 1689 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 5282 ft / 1610 m; Extra: 262 ft / 79m
    Gain on way out:262 ft / 79 m
    Distance:7.3 mi / 11.8 km
    Route:N Ridge
    End Trailhead:Hotel Flora (near Yastrebetz gondola station)  4314 ft / 1314 m
    Time:3 Hours 7 Minutes

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