Title: Skiing the Balkans. Fifty backcountry descents in Bulgaria.
Author: Dimitar Dimitrov
Bulgaria has held a special place in my heart for nearly a decade and a half. Ever since venturing on her soil and traipsing around in her vast and beautiful mountains, amidst friendly people, and with history all around…. I fell in love. While I have never skied in Bulgaria, I have passed through many of her majestic mountains in summer, and I always vowed to go back in winter. Who would not want to saunter through the beautiful town of Bansko in the snow? Now, it seems, I have the perfect tool to fuel a backcountry ski trip to Bulgaria – a guidebook written by Dimitar Dimitrov.
A collection of photos from my two trips to Bulgaria. Click to enlarge:
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Dimitrov begins Skiing the Balkins with some critical background information – most of which is present in just about any backcountry skiing guidebook. But, a couple of things stood out as I read through his introduction. First he says, “One very important point to understand for avalanche forecasting in our mountains is that there is practically no official bulletin available” (p. 19). That’s right, there’s no Bulgaria Avalanche Information Center or something like that. He recommends checking the bulletins at nearby ski areas, the Mountain Rescue Service, or the Bulgarian Extreme & Free Skiing Association.
The other thing that Dimitrov mentions is the extensive hut system – which some call “chalets”. After hiking around the Rila and Purin mountain ranges of Bulgaria, I can attest to this extensive network. The huts are good, the food is good, they are indeed plentiful, and they will make a great basecamp. Perhaps the best way to get an avalanche forecast is to ask other hut-goers.
As the subtitle states, Skiing in the Balkans contains 50 backcountry ski routes in Bulgaria. These are scattered over three separate mountain ranges – the Rila Mountains, the Pirin Mountains, and the Vitosha Mountains. Each range begins with its own chapter introduction with further explanation of the region. Routes are complete with an info box that contains the name, aspect, approximate total time, skill level, starting point, summit point, hazards, special equipment needed, and nearby huts. In addition, each route contains a thorough description.
Color is use to really enhance the maps. While some maps may contain several routes and others may only contain one, one thing is consistent – a blue line is used to demark the up track, and red is used to show the descent. This carries over to the color photos too – some of which are marked with specific route overlays.
Skiing in the Balkans: Fifty backcountry descents in Bulgaria, is a 250-page book packed with information and colorful pictures to inspire. If you’re willing to make the journey, Bulgaria will mesmerize you with her character and her beauty. And I am sure the routes in this book are just a small sample of what the magnificent peaks of Bulgaria have to offer to backcountry skiers.
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