Cave Vihren, Pirin, Bulgaria

About Pirin

Pirin mountain is located in the South West of Bulgaria, here is the second highest peak, Vihren, 2914m. Furthemore, Pirin is featured by many peaks reaching 2800m, narrow ridges and majestic karst area with its main karst ridge. The deepest cave in Pirin, Cave System 9-11, is -407m deep and 2200m long, with its entrance at 2532m. 

One of the most popular starting points for approaching Pirin is the small town of Bansko, which is also a well known ski resort. 

About Vihren cave 

Vihren cave (-133m, 472m) is situated on Dzamdzievia rub (Dzamdziev’s ridge), which is leading to Vihren peak and is also an alternative route for climbing Vihren peak. The entrance is at the very ridge, above 2600m, for reaching it you may need to use alpine techniques and equipment in order to reduce the risk of falling. Although the route is not technically challenging, mistakes here are not allowed. 

Camping on the entrance. Djamdjiev ridge, Pirin, 2630m

Although the entrance has been well known for the alpinists back in the days, the history of its exploration starts in the 70s and goes as follows:

  • The Polish pioneers – in the early 70s, Polish speleologists started exploration 
  • Speleo club Academik and its advancement – the late 70s brought the Sofia speleo club members to the old bottom at -130m 
  • Helectit and Vitosha’s discoveries – in the late 90s, joint team of the two clubs from Sofia, found a way in a narrow and challenging meander, taking them to another vertical and new bottom 

To reach the bottom, you need to go through 5 shafts and two narrow, maze alike, meanders. The cave is quite cold, at some points reaching 1 C, with intense air flow. 

The most challenging parts of the exploration, due to its location, are the safe transport of the needed equipment and water. There is no water source at the ridge, nor in the cave.

Our trip 

Our stay and organisation of the days went as per the below:

Thursday Late arrival at Vihren hut and overnight. 

Friday – Early breakfast, equipment check and start through the ridge. Reaching the cave at around lunch time, setting the camp at the very entrance and entering the cave. This day we have managed to find our way through the meander, rerigged the first pit, checked and surveyed all the parts until the second pit. Overnight at the entrance. 

Saturday – Continuation of the rerigging, checking and surveying, all the way to the bottom. Only major part, which was not checked, was an already known side pit. Big part of the day was dedicated to checking potential parts for continuation of the exploration. Derriging and overnight at the entrance.

Sunday – Packing and leaving. 

Meander “Makaroni”, Vihrenska cave

One of the bigger pits

Going down on the first pit.

The team ready to enter the cave. From left: Alexi, Efi, Filip, Tsvetan

Summary 

Reaching, exploring and camping at the Vihren cave is one of the most complex and charming speleo trips one can have. The scenery and experience are well worth it. 

Vihren cave is now completely rigged (using 8mm, inox, anchor points) but no equipment is left there. It was surveyed at some 85%. Potential areas for further exploration are located. 

The cave has tremendous potential due to its location, current development and geological background.

Edelweiss grow near the entrance of Vihrenska cave, Pirin

Plan of the cave

Extended elevation of the cave

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