Climbing in Vratza
Lodging: Hotels in Vratza, Alpine Hotel just in front
of the rocks, wild camping on some meadows. Water is available at the exit
of Vratza and at the crossroad for Ledenika cave.
Location: The climbing area Vrachanski Skali (Vratza
Rocks) is situated in the western part of Stara Planina mountain and is
part of the national park "Vrachanski Balkan" which includes the biggest
part of Vrachanska Planina in order to preserve it's unique speleological
Access: The rocks are accessible from the local road
Vratza-Zgorigrad (half an hour from Vratza railway station). The town of
Vratza can be reached by train (2h) from Sofia or by car using the international
Type of the rock: The rock is very stable limestone.
The routes: There are more than 120 routes on
about 10 different walls and crags ranging from 1 to 13 rope lengths. The
difficulty grade is III-VIII UIAA with some aid passages. There are also
some routes of higher difficulty which are not mentioned in the existing
guidebooks. Most of the routes are marked in their start points.
Main paths are also marked. The most popular routes are equipped well but
even there the pitons are often old and unstable. Some routes are not safe
The area can be divided in 5 main regions. The highest and most imposant
one is the Central Wall, with its 400 meters
of denivelation, dominating over all other crags. Starting immediately
from the road are the rocks of the Vratzata Gordge
(The Door), whith exellent routes up to 200 meters. Directly in front of
the alpine hotel and the main camping place is the Lower
Central Area, including 5 different crags obout 100 m hight; here are
situated the most popular short routes. The Western and Eastern regions
are not very popular because of the long access and the worse quality of
the routes; there are though some interesting climbs there.
When to climb: The best time to climb at Vratza is spring (april-june)
and autumn (september, october). Many rainy days in spring. Climbing in
summer is possible in cold days.
Dangers: Although generally stable the rock is
fragile on some routes especially on easier ones. Summer is very hot. Plenty
of snakes. Danger of falling stones on the higher walls especially in conditions
of high temperature amplitudes and heavy rains. In summer climbers on certain
walls may be contaminated by a local disease expressed in intense inflammations
of the skin. After 1 or 2 weeks it's over. DO NOT SCRATCH! Unfortunately
thefts are not rare especially when many climbers with good gear are present.
Guidebooks: A guidebook about Vratza by I. Maslarov
and N. Petkov / 1987 (in bulgarian) with descriptions of 116 routes
and very good topoes is available in some climbing gear shops. Currently
a new one is being prepared.