Friday, August 26, 2016

Sod climbing I’m going Caving!

As climbers we often refer to very steep crags as caves, but usually these features are just the beginning of a cave forming on a cliff face and not really caves. We’re all seen the Petzl video of Moon Mountain or the Zhangjiajie which were the inspiration for the film Avatar. Futuristic almost alien landscapes and a rock climbers “wet dream!”

Jan Bauer photo

I never thought there could be something like this in Europe, short hall just 3 hours flying time from the UK, in a country that is full of surprises and cheap to visit. Wizz Air flights to Sofia start from £30.

Karlukovo village sits about an hour North of Sofia high above the banks of the Iskar River. Perhaps an unremarkable village which you could easily drive through and not give it a second thought, but you’d be missing a trick. Like a lot of things in Bulgaria local knowledge and knowing where you’re going is going to help. As the road winds North after the village a nondescript dirt track leads off to the right, down a short hill to a large parking area in a field.

Still with little clue as to what is lurking in the trees, a short path leads into a hidden amphitheater with a elegant “hour glass” pillar in the centre. Once you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, you can proceed into the cave.

The cave is only 300 m long but it feels longer, about 45 m high and to enable us to all climb in the caves’ centre geology has created two large holes in the roof, know locally as “the eyes of God”.

So, this is climbing in a cave, an actual cave, not a super steep section of cliff. Therefore the climbing must be super hard warming up on F7b/c’s for the main action on routes in the high F8’s or even the odd 9a! Well you could partake in this activity if you’re name is Steve McClure or have tendons of steel. For the rest of us the routes start at F5 with a nice even spread all the way though the grades.

Topos listing 95 routes can be found here,

Karlukovski prolom or Karlukovo - Prohodna

Grades and lines can be a little out so be prepared to be able to bail out or start aiding should things get trickier than expected. A standard 60m rope and 14 draws should see you right for most routes. Some routes have extensions but all these have lower off’s at the 30m point.

4 of us went over last week and had a great day! Blake had his first real rock climb and what a day to remember. Anyone wanting guiding over here then get in touch, we can arrange transport and accommodation so all you need is the flight!

The eyes

Rich belaying Jan, nice temps even when 40' outside

No, Blake you cant stay in there all day! 

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