Adventures in Piatra Craiului
Looking from the Chalet Plaiul Foii the spectacular mountain ridge of Piatra Craiului most of people think that it cannot be explored.
Even after you did it, you ask yourself: how could I?
This mountain is an anomaly in the chain of Southern Carpathians. As long as these go from East to West, Piatra Craiului is placed perpendicularly on this direction on the axis North – South.
The ridge is not very long – approximately 25km, but it rises abruptly from the ground to the sky, white, stately and apparently insurmountable.
But, in time, the mountain passionate discovered step by step its secrets, and so, today a lot of marked and unmarked routes are crossed by tourists. The paths difficult to access and the labyrinth of lateral ridges where the most beginners could dramatically get lost, made of this mountain a challenge for travelers and alpinists.
The National Park Piatra Craiului, protects the picturesque mountain landscape and the fauna preserved here unchanged by human influence due to the wildness and low area accessibility.
The maximum altitude is 2238 m on peak „La Om”, also called „Piscul Baciului”(Shepherd Peak).
You can find hosting at one of the chalets: Garofita Pietrii Craiului, Plaiul Foii or Curmatura, placed in key access points or in one of numerous new built guesthouses of the area.
For emergencies there are many refuges situated at different altitudes: Spirlea, Grind, Diana, the Refuge of Saua Grindului (Grind II), of Saua Funduri, the Refuge from Ascutit Peak, Sperantelor (Hopes) Refuge.
The most common access way is form Brasov by train or bus to Zarnesti. From here the mountain can be accessed by forest roads to North- Western side through Plaiul Foii and to the Eastern one by Curmatura.
Another way is from the highway Campul Lung – Brasov (DN 73) at Podul Dambovitei with 2 variants:
- By Dambovita Valley for Garofita Pietrii Craiului Challet
- By Cheile Dambovicioarei and Brusturet for Grind Refuge.
All the touristic routes of this mountain ask a medium physical condition and many of them higher and even minimum climbing knowledge.
Another feature is the lack of water on the routes; there is only in few points that are not easy to found and some of them depends of the rainfalls. For this reason is better to have water with you on the road.
Ideal – Escapes recommends you two wonderful marked routes for your holiday in Piatra Craiului.
Our short presentation has an informative purpose. If you decide to hit the road, a thorough study of the dedicated literature is required.
Route 1: Plaiul Foii Chalet –Sprirlea Refuge – Lanturile –„La Om” Peak – Northern Ridge –Padina Popii Peak–Diana Refuge- Plaiul Foii Chalet.
Usually the route takes 11 – 13 hours depending on the walking pace and pauses and requires a good physical shape.
The lowest altitude on the route is 849 m at Plaiul Foii Chalet and the highest 2238 m on „La Om” Peak.
The passionate of picturesque routes, heights and challenges will be very happy during this journey, the area called “La Lanturi” (at the chains) being very spectacular.
It is not dangerous but is better to choose a nice day for the trip because the cold and humidity could complicate the things.
The route starts from the front of Plaiul Foii Chalet and follows up to the end the forest road parallel with Barsa Tamasului. A sustained up brings us at Spirlea Refuge where we can rest for a while admiring the huge walls that expect us.
On the next stage can be mentioned the area “La Zaplaz” with its spectacular windows made by the water in the limestone walls.
The stage called “La Lanturi” is a spectacular string of rocky steps with cables linked by narrow but well contoured paths that lead us to the ridge.
After we get to the peak “La Om” (Piscul Baciului) the exciting Northern ridge expects us.
On the way we can admire the lateral ridges, the crags and the deep rocky chimneys of the Northern side but also the picturesque landscape with grasslands and forests of the Eastern one.
In the distance we can see to the North Iezer – Papusa and Fagaras Mountains and to the East Bucegi and Leaota Mountains.
In this stage we get to the Refuge of Ascutit Peak where we can find a shelter in case of weather changing (in bad).
At the end of ridge section of our route we get to Padina Popii Peak and from this point we start the downhill to Diana Refuge and Plaiul Foii Challet.
In short time (approximately 20 min.) we arrive in a cross point where we must choose from 2 variants to continue our travel: Brana Caprelor or Padinii Popii.
The two variants are similar as difficulty, time and both include large areas with scree.
The difference is that on the variant Brana Caprelor we can find water in the place called “La Gavan”, within 10 min. from the cross point (except the droughty years).
Diana Refuge is a good place for a halt, placed in a meadow full of flowers. You can rest here before starting the finally downhill to Plaiul Foii.
All the time during your trip do not forget to admire the flora of the alpine floor and especially the endemic specie Garofita (little carnation) Pietrii Craiului (Danthus Callizonus). In the days with low touristic traffic in the abrupt valleys of Northern side you can see chamois flocks.
- Avoid the days with bad weather especially with lightning.
- Stay all the time in the marked areas.
- Do not go on this route if you are not equipped in a proper way.
- Make a self evaluation regarding your physical condition before deciding to go on this route. It is not dangerous but it requires a hard effort for many hours.
For the ones with less physical training and fans of picturesque landscapes the route: Chalet Plaiul Foii –Spirlea Refuge – Cerdacul Stanciului – Crucea Granicerului – Curmatura Foii –Plaiul Foii Chalet, is an alternative very attractive.
It also asks effort but it is shorter as time and the altitude difference is lower comparing with the other route.
Up to Spirlea Refuge and for the next 15 minute the way is commune with first case. But then, we follow the path to the right up to Cerdacul Stanciului. On the road we will admire the energizing image of the woods all-around, Iezer – Papusa Mountains, Umerii (Shoulders) Pietrei Craiului and Marele Grohotis (The Big Scree).
Cerdacul Stanciului is a circular enclosure accessible through an impressive archway. All this natural assembly resulted because of water action on the limestone.
After a rest we have to go back up to Marele Grohotis. From here, we go down up to Crucea Granicerului (area Piscul cu Brazi ) and further to Chalet Plaiul Foii.
- You can go on this journey even if it is not a spectacular weather but is better to choose a sunny day.
- Even if during this trip you will not reach the ridge it is recommended to be properly equipped.
- On the most of the route the water is missing. Take water with you when start your trip.
Other places to see:
- Hermitage of Coltul Chiliilor
- Prapastiile Zarnestilor Gorge
- Bran and Bran Castle
- Dambovicioara Cave
- Rasnov Stronghold
Gorge of Rasnoava.