16th December 2014 Sofia, Bulgaria

Pirin Where I Feel Totally Allive

by James Hughes

James Hughes has been living in Bulgaria for over 18 years.

Pirin Mountains © BEFSA
Pirin Mountains © BEFSA

The Pirin Mountains are a huge expanse of pure wilderness barely touched by civilisation. Remote and wild they offer total freedom to the adventurous! Helicopter support is a dream, support full stop is pretty limited but that’s the joy, Pirin is wild and free. If you are in the mountains in Bulgaria a day or so off the beaten track and bump into someone you probably know them. It’s a wild place populated by a small community of great people, what more could you want!

The ski resort of Bansko was being built when I moved here and was the reason I moved. It must appear strange that someone would be influenced so much by a hobby but hey… read on! I’m no pro skier, I’m not sponsored by any manufacturer or filmed on a daily basis as part of one of those tantalizingly extreme films where everyone is skiing in chest deep powder on some remote face in Alaska. I’m just a guy who loves to ride the back country. If it’s un-pisted then that’s just fine with me. I have never really grown out of the pleasure of being in the mountains with a friend away from the crowds. The peace of the forest, the wild open desolation of big mountains combined with that heart pumping, adrenaline quickening thrill of charging off down the hill. It’s an intoxicating combination that has had me hooked for the past 18 years.

Bulgaria offers great free-riding for skiers. The reasons behind freeriding are clear to those who do it. Pleasure, thrill, excitement are all part of it but so much more than that it is there for the taking. To ski a sweet line that will be gone in a day. To feel that moment where it all works, perfect snow, a perfect line. Extreme skiing is one of a few moments in our lives when we are totally in control. Totally alive. The moment you slip off a ridge, turn into a gully drop into a big face there is no one else to blame, you made that choice. The rush is all yours, the sweetness of the snow the epic turns, all yours. You own that moment and in that moment you are truly free. Just you and the hill. Freedom has no safety nets, no one to blame. That bit of mountain is mine! If you bail out, side slip, show fear, dither or fail to turn expect abuse. The feeling that you dominate mother nature, the buzz of surviving is what it is all about. The thrill of rolling the dice, and winning. When the odds were so high. Pushing the limits of your body, mind and the sport. The serenity of the experience; the almost meditative quality of the focused moment.

Mix all that up and you might get close. That’s what I love about Bulgaria.

Photo courtesy: BEFSA

1 comment on “Pirin Where I Feel Totally Allive

  1. A very eloquent, passionate summary of the mountains. Totally inspiring! A true embassador for Bulgaria.

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