Piatra Craiului Mountains
According to many peoples’ opinion – and also in my opinion – Piatra Craiului is regarded as one of the most beautiful mountains in Romania. Its keen limestone ridges lighten to a great distance in the fiery sunshine, while in winter they glitter as snow white crystals, tempting the nature lovers to mountain climbing. Non one can resist to the temptation, and we will prove this to everybody. Though it is regarded as a difficult mountain, we can find for each the trail suitable for his level of preparedness. The atmosphere of the mountains is different from the usual bleakness of the Carpathian region. The landscape is fascinating, magnificent, each corner of it offering new and new surprises, for instance, chamois. In my opinion the Piatra Craiului is the mountain, where, if you like to meet or take a photo of chamois, you can be certain of it to happen. Of course they will not come to meet you on the pathway, either here (though it is not impossible), but they can be stalked easily in the other parts of the mountain. We can pass through the huge rock-glaciers, characteristic of the mountains, we can traverse its keen edged ridges, or we can adventure on the grass-covered rims that disconnect the limestone walls. And of course we can make photos. Your guide shares with you his nature photo experiences and knowledge, and believe me, here are a lot of things to be photographed.
To the heritage of the mountain belong the Bran (Dracula) Castle and the Râșnov Fortress, but the farms and the world of villages on the foot of the mountains should not be neglected, as well.
A few information about the mountain
Because of its main ridge situating perpendicularly to the Carpathian range, has its own microclimate, characterized by unpredictable, variable weather. In rainy weather the slippery limestone requires a special precaution, in case of storm and lightening it is difficult to return from the ridge. As all limestone mountains, it is also poor in spring waters, there is water only in the lower regions, or there is no water at all. Though it has a simple structure, being formed of a main ridge, each part of it is a fragmented, indented labyrinth, difficult to get to know. The eastern part is downy, easier to be climbed, whereas the western side is a continuous wall, where you can get only with more serious hiking tours, fighting down greater levels. Reveals much about this the fact that in both sides only 3-4 hiking trails lead up to the main ridge. In the lack of the alpine pastures we won’t meet any shepherds. From June we can walk on the hillside covered with alpine plants, just like in a flower garden. The mountain gives home to many endemic species. The recommended visiting period is between May-October. In the spring and late fall period the iced snow covered cliffs are dangerous, whilst in winter we can talk about technically difficult tours, which need continuous insurance. It is worth thinking of 2-3 day tours. A few words about the tours: Our tours aim first of all at the hiking over of the whole main ridge, in absence of subsidiary ridges the mountain is accessible on the eastern part or through the western wall. On the Piatra Craiului it is rare to find such a trail, where you don’t have to catch the cliff with your hands, so anyway, it is about climbing. Mostly we speak about well secured trails, and we use the well-marked, but few tourist trails. Because there is a little possibility to turn back, in case of adverse weather conditions it’s better to avoid the main ridge and rather hike on the eastern or western side. Generally we make whole day tours, which require a good physical condition, and it is good, if you don’t suffer on agoraphobia. Otherwise we remain by the exploration of the lower regions, but cheer up, it is as rich in adventures as each tour of the high ridges. In summer we guide 1-8 persons without any problem, but in winter, due to the difficult technical alpine climbing, the tour guide can undertake max 2 persons. You can carry off to fight down the daily 2000-2200 meters, if you sleep up on the ridge. Don’t forget that the equipment is very important, we climb on stones throughout, for that reason thick-soled boots are indispensable. Besides the usual layered clothing (wind and raincoat/trousers, polar underclothing) you need also sunglasses, suntan lotion, hiking stock, headlamp, headwear (band of cloth, hut). In winter add to these the important elements of the technical equipment, namely crampons, ice axe, climbing harness. Unfortunately there is no possibility for equipment hiring, so bring your own please. An adequate food supply must be carried, too (ingredients for sandwiches, chocolates, energy bars, dried fruit, grains, etc. There are no water springs in the mountain, so you have to carry the whole water kit. For this reason you need also a 35-40 liter backpack.
The only mountain hut, which is situated in high grounds, is usually overcrowded, so in order to get place, you have to book pretty early. The Curmatura hut (1470 m) situates on the eastern side, it is a real mountain hut, WC outside, no hot water, washing with ice cold water by the nearest spring, but cooked food and bottled mineral water or beer can be purchased. From below it is accessible in 1,5-2 hours, and serves as a base for all tours of the eastern hillside. Besides, on this side camping is allowed, of course you should carry your tent, sleeping bag, mattress, or there is a refuge (Grind - 1620m) where except of the tent, you will need the whole equipment. On the western hillside the situation is completely different. Dotted pensions, mountain huts are waiting for us, with full boarding and comfort. But these are on the valley at an altitude of 8-900 meters. On this rocky hillside there are only hidden hemispherical huts, where excepting the tent you need the whole equipment. Camping is allowed only near certain huts, elsewhere is simply impossible. We find the same situation on the main ridge, where with the exception of the refuge, there is no place for tents.