OverviewMuratov, also called Graniten, is located in the heart of the Pirin Mountains of Bulgaria. At 2669m it is only around the 30th highest in the range. Whilst it may not be one of the range’s highest peaks, in my mind it is one of the most beautiful, constructed from a serious of striking ridges and faces. The mountain is also a great peak to climb with wonderful panoramas of many of Pirin’s high peaks.
Located a short distance South of Vihren, Pirin’s highest summit, many people will see the striking symmetry of Muratov from Vihren but comparatively few climb it. As with Vihren, Muratov is relatively accessible from Bansko, Bulgaria’s premier ski result making it ideal for anyone short of time in Pirin. The obvious way to approach the peak is from the Vihren hut which is only a short distance to the North-East, or the Sinanitsa hut to the South-West. From the former hut, Muratov remains hidden until a short distance further south.
The easiest way to climb the peak from either the Vihren or Sinanitsa huts is via the pass known as Banderitsa’s Gate (Banderishka Porta) immediately south of the summit at 2525m. Banderishka Porta is approximately two hours from the Vihren hut. From the Vihren hut first hike south following the trail to the Sinanitsa hut, reaching the picturesque lake of Hvojnato Ezero after one hour, followed by a couple of smaller lakes ten minutes later. From here on things become harder with steep inclines over large rocks all the way to the pass. From the pass there is a path to the summit although I have not personally climbed this way so cannot give specifics.
The Northern approach is via the Vlahin Pass (Vlahin Preval) which sits at around 2475m. When climbing from the direction the summit of Muratov can easily be combined with Hvoinati Vrah (2635m). From Virhen's Pass follow the path south over Hvoinati Vrah, descend to Vlahin Pass then climb to Muratov's summit. Alternatively, it's possible to climb directly to the Vlahin Pass once you have it in your sights south of the Vihren hut.
My experience on the mountain is during the winter season when the Northern approach is particularly attractive via the ridge that connecting Muratov with Hvoinati Vrah to the North. One section is quite exposed and I opted to descend a short distance below the ridge on its Western side to avoid this. The ridge can be corniced in winter so take care. The climb to the summit via the Northern Ridge is around 40-45 degrees and I would rate it Alpine AD, although the ridge is relatively short at around 200m.
The mixed East Ridge also looks an excellent objective.
If anybody has climbed the peak in the summer season and wants to share this page with me then please PM me.
Getting to Bansko
Bansko (936m) is the gateway to the Pirin Mountains. From Sofia’s Central bus station there are around six buses daily. On entering the bus station buy your bus ticket from the counters to the right. The journey takes three hours. A few buses also depart from Sofia’s Ovcha Kupal bus station in the SW corner of the city.
Bansko can also be reached by train however the route is longer albeit more scenic. If travelling from Sofia, first take a train to Septemvri, which is on the main Sofia-Plovdiv line. Then take the narrow gauge railway to Dobrinishte (5 hours) which is 6km East of Bansko. On route you will pass through Avramovo, the highest Balkan train station. There are around five trains a day although two of these leave rediculously early.
For further information on train travel within Bulgaria please visit the Bulgarian State Railways website.
Reaching the Vihren Hut
During summer there are a limited number of buses running between Bansko and the Vihren hut. Alternatively take a taxi.
In winter there is no public transport other than the Gondola which extends 6km South to a spot called Banderishka meadow at the foot of the ski lifts. The gondola journey time takes around 20 minutes. From here you must walk which will take between 90 minutes and 2 hours.
Camping and AccommodationThe Vihren hut (Hizha Vihren), a short distance to the North-East, or the Sinanitsa hut, to the South-West are the most convenient huts to stay. The Banderitsa hut a short distance north of the Vihren hut is another option if the Vihren hut is full.
A short distance South of the Banderitsa hut in the direction of the Vihren hut there is a camping ground.
In Bansko there is numerous accommodation due to a construction boom in recent years - far beyond current demand. The result is that some parts of town have become an eyesore with many half finished apartment blocks. My recommendation would be to find somewhere in the heart of the original town which lies either side of Pirin St.
Red TapeNo permits are required to enter the park
Normal national park rules apply
If you think you need a visa for Bulgaria then check with your local embassy
When to ClimbSummer is the optimum time when conditions are easiest at the summit can be hiked to without encountering snow.
Winter is a beautiful time to visit Pirin although come prepared for plenty of snow. Bare in mind that huts will be unstaffed and you will need to be self reliant.
Mountain Conditions10 day forecast for Sandanski - This town is located at the foot of Pirin to the South-West.
6 day forecast for Bansko
Webcams for nearby Todorka peak are available here
Surrounding LakesVlahinski Ezero to the North-West
Muratovo Ezero to the East
Georgiiski Ezero to the West
MapsFrom personal experience, I managed to find no maps covering the Pirin Mountains prior to arrival in Bulgaria. In Bansko I found two maps available.
The most widely available is the Domino map of Bansko and the Pirin National Park. It has a red cover, is sold by numerous vendors but in my opinion is not very good. The side of the map dedicated to Pirin has as much space dedicated to hotel advertising as to actual mapping.
By far the better map is one by Iskar Tour which has an olive green cover. This covers the Northern half of Pirin which includes all the major peaks. It has a scale of 1:40000 with 25m contour lines and is excellent quality. There is also a map of Bansko on the rear. The map can be viewed online here
A third map by Kartografia also covers Pirin (1:55000 scale) although I did not find this in Bansko (but is likely available at outdoor shops in Sofia).
The map below shows Muratov's location (the peak is called Graniten in Cyrillic). It is just North-East of the number "3" marked on the blue line.
Alternatively, I've accurately marked the peak on the Google Earth map (click on the coordinates above).
External LinksThe official Bansko municipal website.
This website also has some good Bansko info
More to Follow SOON...