Bulgarian mountains aren't widely known as climbing objects because even their highest peaks don't reach 3000 m. However, our mountains are high enough to be unsafe, especially for reckless people. The two highest ones, Rila and Pirin, at least drive respect with their impressive alpine landscapes. The mountain chain of Stara Planina (a.k.a. "the Balkan"), on the contrary, seems friendly with its misleading soft-edged shapes. However, it claims such a high toll from tourists that has been dubbed "Killer mountain".
Days ago, Stara Planina took its latest victim, Damyan Dimitrov (27). It is difficult to figure out exactly what happened, not only because this requires compiling fragmented description of messy events but because some of the survivors seem to bend the story in order to portray themselves not responsible for his death. Damyan was in a group of ill-prepared and ill-equipped tourists who on Jan. 27 despite the very bad weather went out near Mount Botev, the highest peak of Stara Planina. On the way down, Damyan felt so weak that was unable to walk on his own. He begged his companions not to abandon him. However, at one moment they did. Two other climbers took care of him and dragged him for some distance, but eventually they also abandoned him, leaving him under a tree. After they reached the hut, rescuers went to search for him but the hurricane-like wind forced them to return. Damyan's body was found only on Jan. 31.
What puzzles me in this story is the "self yourself" mentality underlying the behaviour of Damyan's companions. How could they leave him in the snowstorm, knowing that his chance to survive was near zero? What has happened to the people and made them forget the ancient unwritten laws of the mountain? It is true that an attempt to save him could cost their own lives. It is also true that not everyone can be a hero. However, they were not people surprised by some unpredictable accident but tourists knowingly taking a risk. I think that if you haven't the making of a hero, you'd better stay out of the wild parts of mountains, especially in winter.