Bulgarian 56 Peaks Challenge

14 May, 2022 10:00, Ending in 2025

Bulgarian 56 Peaks is Tony McMurray’s first fundraising challenge in Bulgaria aiming to raise funds for the causes of For Our Children Foundation through climbing 56 peaks over 2,500 m. The first peak was completed on May 14th, 2022, with a large group of supporters comprising Tony’s friends, work colleagues and members of the charity. The rest of the peaks will be completed in the next few years.

“The last two years has proved a challenging period for the Foundation. The pandemic affected the charities direct work with the families they support, and all the supporting activities. This challenge has two main objectives, the first is to raise awareness for this valuable Foundation, the second is to raise much needed funds to help them continue their great work in supporting the children of Bulgaria. Many thanks for your support in meeting these two objectives.”, Tony McMurray.


Tony McMurray is a Brit living in Bulgaria since June 2018. Over the past +15 years Tony has raised more than $100,000 in the UK attempting unique self-organized challenges, complimented by fundraising for a variety of charities. These challenges have ranged from running Marathons, Kayaking Rivers, Cycling the length of countries and climbing Mountains.
Tony and his wife Sharon moved to Bulgaria in June 2018 for him to take on the position of Managing Director of Ingram Micro Bulgaria.

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1st Peak - Belmeken, Rila mountain

"This first peak was always going to be one of the easier ones and so it proved. Despite the rain and hail, and the patches of snow we were fortunate to have very light winds and the temperature remained above zero. On arriving at the summit I embraced all 4 of my fellow climbers as the magnitude of what I had set out to do started to dawn on me. The climbing of the 56 highest peaks in Bulgarian all above 2,500m had really started! There was no going back now, my head was in the right place and my body in the coming months will need to strengthen if I am to succeed in my objective! Raising awareness and much needed funds for my chosen charity For Our Children Foundation.

My love of Bulgaria has certainly grown over the past 4 years, and today only further re-enforced that affection as I experienced its great outdoors and will do so over the next 16 months of Adventure.

Look out for details of the next peaks to be summited sometime in early July – feel free to come along and join us if your diary allows!" - Tony

2nd peak - Otovishki peak, Rila mountain

"This 2nd peak was again chosen for its relative ease of access. Martin chose wisely as mountain fitness continues to build and the ease of the climb allowed for greater number of people to join us in these early summer months. We were not disappointed as people messaged me leading up to the day via LinkedIn, a fellow AmCham Board member on a visit to Bulgaria, an associate whose mother was in town and changed their plans, a former finance team member, our HR director, a mentee and two new Ingram Team members, one of whom brought his 4 legged friend along! The dog Lisa provided great energy and entertainment up on those ridges!

As we wound our way up to the peak we picked off each of the 7 lakes and then one by one we walked into the descending clouds. Thankfully the mist cleared as we reached the Otovishki Peak at 2,696M and the chill suddenly left us to leave a lovely warm feeling.

The first peak in May (Belmeken) was a cold one with only a few in attendance. This second one was filled with sunshine, great discussions with friends both old and new and introduced me to a truly wonderful part of Bulgaria. Raising awareness and much needed funds for my chosen charity For Our Children Foundation has always been my number one priority… I feel fortunate that this challenge, as an added bonus, is being conducted through the backdrop of the amazing landscape that is Bulgaria!" - Tony

3rd peak - Kabul, Rila mountain

"A colder day than the week before but thankfully without rain, the view of the 7 Rila Lakes never fails to impress those who set eyes on them for the first time. A few new Ingram faces joined the group and for that I am thankful, some who saw the posts on Social media and some who simply had a free day and wanted to join in the fun and help raise awareness for this important children’s charity. Martin did a great job introducing us to a less used path of the Rila Mountains as we completed the peak as part of a circle route which avoided using the ski lift to take us back to our transport via a less used route crossing rivers and forest tracks." - Tony

4th peak - Popova Kapa, Rila

"This was going to be our first big long weekend of the challenge and it proved a tough but rewarding one. We set off from the car park at 7.30pm on Friday night and arrived, with our head torches on and heavily laden backpacks, at our camp located at Strashnoto ezero (2465 m) just after 11.30pm. In the morning we awoke to a glorious view across the Rila mountains and also a cooked breakfast of pancakes (thanks Petar) and cooked sausages – all done under the excellent supervision of head chef, Georgi (the ‘Gordon Ramsey’ of the 56 Peaks Challenge). The terrain was a lot more stony and rugged and the elevation much steeper and dangerous than the previous 3 peaks we had completed. This is why it made the weekend the most rewarding yet in our quest for the 56 Peaks!" - Tony

Story continues on the next peak.

5th peak - Little Kupen, Rila

"We had planned to do as many as 11 new peaks over the 3 days but for anyone living in and around the western part of Bulgaria you will know that ‘Armageddon style’ rain hit the area badly last weekend. Due to this deteriorating weather combined with the dangerous terrain, our plans ended early." - Tony

Story continues on the next peak.

6th peak - Middle Kupen, Rila

"We headed down to the Bulgarian Alpine Club shelter and the exit in the direction of the Malyovitsa hut. We all agreed this was the most sensible decision – we would return to bag those other peaks another day!" - Tony

Story continues on the next peak.

7th peak - Big Kupen, Rila

"49 more peaks to go, with 14 months to do it! Come joins us on this journey through the most beautiful countryside views that Bulgaria has to offer! And support a great cause while doing it." - Tony

8th peak - Angelov peak, Rila

"After several failed attempts earlier in the year, it was great to achieve our first 3 summits of 2023 in mid-August. An early start was necessary as the first few hours to our summits involved very steep climbs with regular rest stops ." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

9th peak - Big Bear peak, Rila

"Although there was some sunshine, the weather gods were kind to us this weekend and there was no rain. Our plan was to take at least 5 peaks this weekend, but as with all such trips in the mountains, we have to learn to adapt." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

10th peak - Pastri Slap, Rila

"Some logistical challenges made us change our approach and we decided to shorten the weekend trip to just one day of climbing on Saturday. So we managed to climb the 8th, 9th and 10th peaks of the challenge" - Tony

11th peak - Small Mermer, Rila

"With our second weekend in the mountains, we aimed to reach a few more peaks. We got up early and with a stomach full of toast, we left at 8:00 am for our long 10-hour trek." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

12th peak - Pavlev peak, Rila

"The group went from a height of 2000 meters to over 2700 meters and we conquered 4 peaks together with a wonderful dog."

The story continues on the next peak.

13th peak - Black Meadow, Rila

"The end of the first day was marked by thunder and lightning and we spent the evening among other climbers in the hut" - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

14th peak - Kanarata peak, Rila

"The next morning we were joined by a 7th climber and set off at 9:00 am for another 10 hour day that included more technical routes and required us to use more of our hands and knees to reach the summits." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

15th peak - Kioravitsa peak, Rila

"A very rewarding weekend, great company, unforgettable views." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

16th peak - Riletz peak, Rila

"Delighted to have climbed 16 of the 56 peaks in the challenge. More climbs to come in October." - Tony

17th peak - Evil Tooth, Rila

"Arrived at the car park early morning and made our way up past the Malyovitsa hut. We pushed on above the 2,000m mark as we made our way to the Orlovets Shelter. After dropping off our tents, sleeping bags and food, we then made our way slowly to our first peak of the weekend and for many our first experience at abseiling. Evil Tooth was a personal challenge for many of us. With strong safety measures in place, Martin and Vessy managed to get 9 of us up and down over 5 hours via ‘belaying’. The most difficult peak to date!" - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

18th peak - Orlovets, Rila

"A far easier up and down was the 18th peak at Orlovets. We then headed back down to the shelter where we prepared for sleeping under the stars and also a meat feast of chicken and beef prepared by Georgi, our resident Michelin Star Chef. For those who have not slept out under the stars in the Bulgarian Mountains the Milky Way shone brightly above us and the stars could be seen both in the Sky and in our eyes!" - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

19th peak - Lovnitsa, Rila

"Sunday – a late start for us all and a much easier day than the Saturday. Peak 19 Lovnitsa was relatively easy as was Peak 20." - Tony

The story continues on the next peak.

20th peak - The Camel, Rila

"This last peak of the day has to be my favourite photo of the peaks so far! A great panoramic view and the team posed like a ‘professional photo shoot’ 😊" - Tony

Participants in the challenge

Petar Murginski

"Mountains are humbling, in a philosophical way, as they help you gain perspective on life. The higher you climb the mountain, the more you appreciate it. I find profound peace in the mountains. Listening to the silence is a unique feeling of harmony that you need to personally experience to understand because it filters through you, and stays with you for a time after.
You don’t need to be an expert mountaineer to joins us on our journey and experience the obvious benefits of exercise. Like most people, I am also concerned about climate change and social inequalities. Thanks to Tony’s initiative and the hard work of the Foundation, there could rarely be a better opportunity to combine the two."

Stela Zlatkova

"I am inspired to participate in the 56 Peaks challenge because to me it is a symbol of the strength of the human spirit. Just as one can ascend a mountain step by step, supporting a cause you're passionate about can lead to qualitative results through consistent, small efforts. And what greater summit is there to strive for than ensuring the well-being of our children? They are our future!"

Natalia Dimitrova

"Joining the Bulgarian 56 Peaks Challenge brought me many experiences - I met many new people, some of them are now my friends, we went through many adventures together. More important than having a good time is that the initiative is about raising funds and raising awareness for the causes of For Our Children Foundation. I have been a professional communicator for 20+ years and know how important it is to share ideas and attract like-minded people to make them happen.

I believe that small steps lead to big changes. Whether one decides to join a challenge like this, donate monthly to a cause, or simply help a neighbor or a stranger on the street, we can all be better every day."

Atis Zaharans

"Mountains are magnificent, powerful and inspiring – that’s why we love climbing and conquering them.
Children are exposed, unprotected and innocent – that’s why we need to take care and protect them.

And both are highly vulnerable these days – mountains because of our irresponsible attitude to the Mother Nature and environment of our planet, and children because of the environment and living conditions we create for them.

There is no better way to be a part of solution for both challenges as 56 Peaks Challenge, and this is why I am so excited to be a part of this great project!