Avalanche and Travel Safety in Bulgaria
If you are about to practice some sports activity in Bulgarian mountains,
please have in mind the following:
- The Mountain Rescue Service does not have the actual possibility to
use helicopters and other highly technical devices in rescue operations.
Sometimes (when there are roads or not very steep slopes on the road
to the accident) they may use snowmobiles. RECCO sysem is not supported
by them! Not all of the rescuers are equipped with avalanche. They will
use 457kHz beacons in search of avalanche victims only if it is known
that the victim has such a beacon (which means that it is useful to
warn the local rescue service that you use such beacons before traveling
and discuss the situation with them). For location of avalanche victims
the most used method is by probing and if it is possible to take a trained
dog to the place of the accident - with dogs.
- There are NO Avalanche Hazard Reports!
- The mountain climate in Bulgaria is very specific. It is formed under
the strong influence of moist Mediterranean masses (coming with warm
and extremely strong S and SW winds) and cold Atlantic masses (coming
with W and NW strong winds). So it is common to have a few warm days
(even with rain showers) followed by heavy snowfalls and drop of temperatures.
After such situations fresh powder often lies on very hard crust. Sometimes
we have periods with very intensivie snowfalls with more than 40-50cm
of snow in a night. At such moments avalanche danger is very high and
sometimes avalanches fall even in forests.
- Predominating winds in winter are SW, W and NW. They often form thick
slabs. According to our experience most dangerous are E and S slopes
(hard slabs on icy crust after strong winds). Very dangerous are the
upper and steepest parts of gullies, where often there are cornicles
and slabs. At the beginning of spring, at the time of the first strong
warming-up (usually about the middle of April) on many slopes fall wet
avalanches. Typical sign of the increased snow instability is lack of
any support from the snow (sinking very deep when traveling). After
this period high in the mountains is formed corn and hard spring snow,
which is very good for skiing.
- The services of the Mountain Rescue Service in Bulgaria are paid from
the beginning of 2001. Prices vary from 100EUR (short transport of person
with broken leg) to more than 600EUR (avalanche rescue operations).
There are local insurances, made by the Mountain Rescuers in every resorts.
Some resorts have an included insurance in the ski lift tickets (but
not all). These insurances DO NOT cover medical treatment, but only
transport to a hospital.
Having in mind all the mentioned above we would like to
advice you the following:
1. Ski, snowboard or travel in Bulgarian mountains with a local person
with very good knowledge of local conditions. This is good not only for
choosing the safest routes, but also to be able to coummunicate with other
local persons about transport, accomodation and food. This may save problems
and additional expenses.
2. Always carry rescue equipment, make avalanche tests, ski or snowboard
safely and be ready to perform a rescue operation by yourself.
3. Make sure you have an insurance that covers all rescue expenses abroad.
4. Always negotiate prices before traveling. Drivers of vans and taxis
are notorious for trying to cheat their clients.
5. We recommend contacting a local person and discussing trip plans before
arrival in Bulgaria. You may get some useful tips.
6. Typical prices are: sleeping in a hut ~7-10USD; sleeping in small private
hotels 10~15USD; sleeping in bigger hotels (3,4 stars) - above 50 USD;
ski tickets (for a day) ~25-30USD (a big increase in 2005/2006!); Traveling
with bus form Sofia to ski resorts - about 10USD; Soft drinks-0,5USD;
tea, coffee- 0,5-1USD; beer ~1USD; soup - ~1-2USD etc.
7. And at last - skiing in Bulgaria can be great. Not very much skiers
and snowboarders ride outside the ski runs, so Powder is not spoiled quickly.
Usually you are The First on The Slope (especially outside the boundaries
of ski resorts). Further more - in Bulgaria almost 70% of the "interesting"
slopes wait for a "first descent"
For more information, please contact us (email@example.com)
and check our travel web site -