Cancer Research UK Challenge Mount Vihren, 2915m, Bulgaria, October 2013

Me at the top of Mount Vihren, Pirin Mountain Range, Bulgaria. Oct 2013. ©Stan Kujawa. All rights reserved.

Me at the top of Mount Vihren, Pirin Mountain Range, Bulgaria. 4th Oct 2013. ©Stan Kujawa. All rights reserved.

I MADE IT !! I got to the top on 4th October.  After trekking solo around the Pirin mountain range for 2 days, 10 hours per day, to get acclimatized to the altitude, and waiting for the foul weather to clear, I attempted the final scramble to the top of Mount Vihren, at 2915m above sea level, the highest peak in the Pirin Mountains of SW Bulgaria, the second highest in the country. Not a razor-edged climb, but a mountain covered in scree, and with a windchill factor of -10c. What a buzz getting to the top! And the reward of the view of the way entire mountain range, all to myself. Strolled back down 1000m over 5 hours to the Banderistia Mountain Hostel. Had a beer, and bedded down to the near-abandoned ‘hotel’ for less than a fiver (10 lev), single with no running water! Well, you get what you pays for. Double bed room mind, so i suppose that makes it OK ?   Had to hike the next morning to the Vihren hostel to avoid dying of thirst. Afterwards I spent a few days more hiking at high altitude, in total 5 nights in the mountains, staying in the Koncheta unmaned emergency shelter (a small shed on a mountain ridge with bunks and a mouse! ). Very basic conditions, but really, all you need food, water and a safe warm place to sleep. The stars that night were incredible, no light pollution from any city, saw a few streaking meteors. Got up at 5 next day to greet the beautiful dawn, and descend the amazing Pirin mountains for the last time…

The Pirin mountains are in the south east of Bulgaria, bordered by Greece and the FYR Macedonia. It is a UNESCO World heritage centre due to its wilderness, glacial geological morphology, and flora and fauna diversity. Sadly, I didn’t spot any bears or wolves, but saw several flocks of chamois wild goat gazing on alpine pastures, and birdlife: eagles, mountain dippers, and the small but impressive wallcreeper.

A huge thankyou for everyone who showed me support and offered me words of encouragement it made a huge difference. I have dedicated the challenge to my father Marek Kujawa Snr, who we lost to cancer in 2001. He was a huge inspiration to us. He was a well loved, fondly-remembered member of the Polish community in Slough. This is the first time I have raised money for charity in this way, and the response I have received at such short notice has mobilised me to do more charity challenges in the future, watch this space…!

You can still donate to Cancer Research UK, via my JustGiving page, thankyou for taking the time to read this.

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here are a few more images from my adventure, the slideshow will change images by itself:

click here to read the article in the Maidenhead Advertiser

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