In the end of June, on an invitation of Green Wood Hotel & Spa Bansko, some fellow bloggers and I visited the hotel to review its premises. In the meantime, we had a chance to explore the verdant Pirin Mountains and in a small group on a promising Saturday morning, we tried to conquer its champion – Vihren. However, halfway there, God said “NO”, and sent a thunderstorm our way which successfully thwarted our plans. We had to go back since it started raining “cows and elephants” (my version of cats and dogs).
I am a very motivated person so this little mishap did not dishearten me, and last weekend, some friends and I made an even more audacious plan – conquer Vihren and Pirin’s most feared, yet most beautiful, ridge – Koncheto („Кончето“ literally meaning “The Small Horse” or “El Caballito” in Spanish).
Why is Koncheto so feared? At an elevation of around 2,810 metres (9,219 ft), there are incredibly steep, yet staggeringly beautiful (hence the name of my article), slopes on both sides. While the side facing south-west is less steep (30 degrees), it is way deeper (800 m or ~2,600 ft) than the northern one which is super steep but measures around 300-400 metres (~1,000-1,300 ft).
A steel cable has been put on the ridge which is not more than 70 centimetres (27,5 inches) wide to help climbers go through it. It is believed that hikers that are not that experienced pass Koncheto by saddling its ridge like they would saddle a horse – thus its name. Acrophobia hikers better not visit it.
Here’s a video which my friend – Stiliyan – did with his camera. I am the guy with the blue cap in front 🙂
Since my friends and I are quite the hikers, we not only did not saddle it, but also managed to take some photos of Edelweiss flowers. WARNING – these gorgeous, but tiny, flowers are protected, so do not dare pick them up because God will become furious and may prod you into the abyss.
After successfully “riding” the small horse and despite there were clouds gathering around us, we decided Vihren would become our bitch. And so it did. But getting there was quite challenging to our climbing skills. If you plan on going down from that side – good luck, it’s more than scary.
How to Get to the Beauties of Pirin, Koncheto and Vihren, from Vihren Hut
Vihren Hut is at an elevation of 1,970 metres (6,463 ft) to which there is a good paved road, coming from Bansko. Make sure to get there on time since it is quite crowded on weekends and it is hard to find a place to park your car.
From the hut to the peak with the same name – Vihren, Pirin’s highest peak – there is a positive denivelation of around 1,000 metres (3,280 ft) which can be overcome in around 2,5-3 hours. However, we decided to first triumph over Koncheto, and then go to Vihren. How to do that?
First off, start ascending from the Hut and in around 30 minutes, you should reach a couple of signs – one of them says “Vihren” (to the left) and the other one says “Yavorov Hut” – right. Basically, the left one continues straight up and the right one goes around the mountain.
In around one hour after taking the right path, you would reach an area called “The Caldrons” – which is just beside Vihren. The Caldrons („Казаните“ in Bulgarian) is a super huge drop of around 300-400 m. Usually, there is snow there since it is quite high in the Pirin Mountains, and it cannot melt even in the summer heat.
Half an hour later, you would reach a place which is usually referred to, by hikers, as “a mountain saddle” – Premkata. There, again, you have to make a right turn and follow the path which goes to Koncheto. In around 20 minutes, you also have two more options – surmount Kutelo Peak (2,908 m) or go around it and arrive at the middle of Koncheto.
If you take the left turn, you will hit the final ascent to Vihren.
At Vihren, if the weather is fine, you will have a magnificent vista of Todorka Peak from where starts the highest ski-slope of Pirin and Bansko Ski Resorts. The slope is named after the famous Italian skier – Alberto Tomba.
Have you been to Pirin? Did your jaw drop when admiring these gorgeous beauties?