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Musala, the largest of the Balkans

Musala (09 Nov 2015) — posted on 18 Sep 2016

Musala comes from "Musalla", meaning "close to god". It is the highest peak in the Rila mountain range and the highest in the entire Balkans. From the top the view is supposed to be amazing, offering a view over the whole mountain range. I climbed up and down in two days, but this time I was not that lucky with the weather.

Morning view

After leaving behind most of my stuff in the hostel in Sofia, I hitchhiked to the ski resort of Borovets, from where the way up starts. At this time the weather was good. The sun was shining but it was not too hot. I started hiking at noon and used the ski resort's slope map as a guide. The people of the village were busy making the last preparations before the start of the season, one month later. In the beginning of November, no snow was to be found...

Borovets Borovets

Some ice on the way up Ice on the way

View of the Rila mountains View of the Rila mountains

A reflection in the window of a mountain hut Reflection in hut

I climbed up to about 2700 m to find the last mountain hut before the summit all to myself. I cooked my dinner in a milk carton (a trick I learned from the Flemish science program 'Hoe? Zo!') and enjoyed the views over the valley as the sun set behind the mountains.

Mountain hut Dinner in a milk carton View over the valley View over the valley at night

It was quite windy and the temperature dropped to about -4°C at night. Luckily the hut and my sleeping bag protected me for these things. During the night the wind brought with it some clouds and by the morning the hut and the mountains were surrounded by a thick, icy fog, which did not disappear.

The, almost unreadable, thermometer in the morning Temperature in the morning

Morning view Icy way up Detail of the icy knot

I arrived at the top at 10.30 in the morning and completely missed the promised view of the Rila mountains. After the summit, I hiked to a few more peaks, hoping the clouds would clear and I would be able to have some nice views from another peak. It didn't. So I walked for 2 more hours in the clouds, with an icy wind coming from my left side (see picture).

I got to go to the highest point of the Balkans, but missed the great view. I see it as a reason to go back there and hope for better weather next time!

Musala summit Icy face