At the middle of May, I joined some friends for climbing in Basarbovo, in Bulgaria.
I was familiar with the Ruse region – where Basarbovo is located – from last year’s bicycle touring trip with Ștefan. We rode our bikes from Ruse to Tabachka (another popular crag for sport climbers), stopping along the way for the Basarbovo Rock Monastery and Ivanovo Rock Monastery. The next day we visited the medieval fortress in Cherven and then headed home. It was a great bicycle touring trip to find out more about Bulgarian heritage.
We arrived quite late in the day, having waited quite some time to cross the border to Ruse, Bulgaria. It was already getting hot and we were far from looking forward to sticking our butts to some hot limestone crag. Nevertheless, we were anxious to be in nature and feel the breath of trees and smell of the river. Popping up a couple of cold ones would just round up the getaway we were anxious to have.
So, here we are, at the Basarbovo rock climbing wall. It’s hot. And, dear God, what’s with all this fluff in the air? I know it’ poplar season, but I’ve never seen something like this ever before. There’s fluff all over. Fluff in the air around us, fluff on thr ground, on the grass and even on the tiniest of handholds on the walls.
We only tried two routes: Shake Reduction and USB. Both are rated around 5 UIAA, but it is a known fact that Bulgarians tend to underrate their routes. The first route tried was on a steep face, with very tiny holds, which kinda makes your legs turn into a sewing machine, hence the name. Andrei was the only one who managed to reach the top, by leading. I wanted to give it my best, but it started raining and we took a short break. The next route, USB, is considered the easiest in Basarbovo. I lead climbed it and found it quite nice and not very difficult, despite all the fluff ingested! I was a bit proud of myself and I can surely say thay indoor climbing in spring has helped a lot.
There was no way we could’ve spent the night there, with all the fluff flying around. We packed and headed for a nice, remote place near the Danube. We set up our tent somewhere near Giurgiu, along a secondary branch of the river. Poplars were still around, yet their fluff was much more kind to us!
The sunset was magical, with golden light filtered through the fluff in the air. After feeding all the local dogs who gathered around us, we had our meal – veggie sausages for me, roasted in the fire. I really enjoyed that evening, even laughed when the border patrol showed up and fined us for not registering our presence in the area!
This is pretty much how we turned a so-very-fluffy day into a nice evening on the shores of the Danube.