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 will be 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 18-months time.
“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.
"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
"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
"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
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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
Start: 8:00 a.m. from the parking lot at 101 Iskar Str. (starting point of the climb)
The climb takes approximately 3.5-4.5 hours one way. If the pace of the group is good and the weather permits, an attempt will also be made to climb the peak "Malkata Malyovitsa" at 2616 meters.
"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."