|Munţii Făgăraşului (ro) - Fogarasi-havasok (hu) - Fogarascher Gebirge (de)|
|The Făgăraş Mountains are the longest continuous ridge in the Carpathians.|
The Făgăraş Mountains belong to the South Carpathians and are one of the most impressive mountain ranges in Romania. They are the country's highest and largest mountains, covering an area of 3,000 square kilometers. Across the Carpathians, there is only one mountain range which is higher than the Făgăraş, namely the Tatra Mountains which rise at the opposite, northern end of the Carpathian arc. The main ridge of the Făgăraş Mountains forms a massive spine, which extends west to east in a fairly straight line for more than 70 kilometres - from the valley of the Olt River to the Piatra Craiului Mountains and the Iezer Mountains. The main crest never drops below 2000m over a distance of about 50 km. In the Făgăraş Mountains sit eight of the 14 Romania's peaks rising above 2500m. There are also at least 42 peaks whose elevations fall within the 2400-2500m brackets. The highest peak of both the Făgăraş Mountains and Romania is called Moldoveanu and rises to 2544m in the eastern chunk of the Făgăraş. But no less renowned than Moldoveanu is Negoiu: rockier, reigning in the west, at 2535m the 2nd highest summit in Romania.
The wild beauty of the landscapes: a great number of prominent peaks, narrow crests, deep valleys and picturesque tarns prompted the French scientist Emmanuel de Martonne to refer to the Făgăraş Mountains as the Transylvanian Alps. This nickname is more often used, however, for all of the South Carpathians. The Făgăraş Mountains form the bulk of a little bigger mountain group which is named after them and which contains the Făgăraş proper and a couple of mountains a bit farther south: the Coziei Mountains and the Iezer Mountains. In fact, the latter can be thought of as part of the Făgăraş proper. On the other hand, among the extremely long lateral ridges branching off the main ridge to run southward there are two that are sometimes listed as separate mountain ranges: the Frunţii Mountains (spur branching off at Negoiu) and the Ghiţu Mountains (spur branching off not far from Moldoveanu). They can be easily located on the map as they have become separated by a big dam called Lake Vidraru.
May these wise words of a Romanian poet, Lucian Blaga be the best invitation to the top of Romania: "God, please stop the clock with which you measure eternity."
Altogether there are eight peaks that rise over 2500 meters:
What rocks (and whom)
In summer, the Făgăraş Mountains are a paradise for backpackers, who usually attempt to trek along the main ridge. Such a trek takes 5 to 7 days, most people are carrying a tent. On days of inclement weather - virtually unavoidable in these mountains, usually swept by high winds and often battered by storms - shelter can be sought in one of the few rudimentary refuges (see Huts and Refuges), of which the refuge by Lake Călţun is the best-known and the best-known and usually packed with people at night. The most difficult section of the marked trail running along the main ridge is near the peaks of Şerbota and Negoiu (UIAA I, partly fixed with cables or chains: Custura Sărăţii, Strunga Dracului, Strunga Ciobanului; "strunga" = couloir), in the western part of the Făgăraş.
Lack of rocks such as granite results in technical climbing in summer being limited to a couple of places, of which the impressive crag of Colţul Bălăceni at the head of the Sâmbăta Valley boasts routes rated up to V (UIAA). In winter, a wider area offers many a breath-taking mountaineering option, and the traverse of the main ridge is quite an endeavor. Along a route of over 70km you will be slogging along a wild ridge with many tricky cornices, and you will have to traverse many places where the avalanche danger is high. In February 1972, a German-Czechoslovak team succeeded in doing the traverse of the highest and rockiest part of the main crest, covering thirty-six summits at above 2300m. The feat took them as much as 12 days. Apart from the main ridge, the northern spurs - wild, cut off from the crowds, shattered, abrupt, partly vegetated – can also make for memorable climbs which can be graded at about 3B. An easy but pretty attractive route, which starts at Zmeilor Pass, runs over the summits of Vârtopel(1B) and Arpăşel(3A) with the Rabbit's Ears. As far as skiing is concerned, there is plenty of terrain for skiers of various skill. Good, natural slopes can be found near the following huts: Urlea, Sâmbăta, Turnuri, Podragu, Capra, Bâlea, Negoiu, Bârcaciu, Capra. Ski alpinism will be cool on the north-south crossings, there are plenty spots for extreme skiing, while ski touring on the southern ridges you will be practically cut off from civilization.
The Făgăraş Mountains are formed mostly of metamorphic rocks, such as gneiss and schists. In few places thin layers of limestone can be found. The relief of the mountains was shaped by Pleistocene glaciers, hence the U-shaped valleys divided by jagged crests. In the northern valleys the glaciers were up to 5 km long. On the other, southern side the Valea Rea Glacier had a lenght of 9 km. The northern slopes of the Făgăraş Mountains, facing Transylvania, are shorter and steeper, whereas the lateral ridges and valleys south of the main ridge drop toward the sunny Muntenia more gradually, being up to 30 km long. Therefore, they are deserted and wild - very few hikers have roamed the area.
Summer traverse of the main ridge: West to East
When To Go & Climate
If you are a hiker you should come in summer. Early autumn can also be a wonderful - besides being colorful - time, but all this varies between years. As for the summer, August seems to be best, July tends to be very rainy. Some summers have been kind of horror: hurricane force winds, frequent thunderstorms, torrential rains, freezing weather. You'd better be careful when planning your trip. You must realize that a walk-up from the foothils to the main ridge takes at least 10 hours. It is good to start the ascent early in the morning, when the weather conditions are favourable. In winter and spring, the risk of avalanches is usually high.
Flora & FaunaFlora The diversity of vegetation cover is determined by altitude.
Lower montane zone reaches 1200 meters in altitude. Mean annual temperature is 4-6°C and the vegetation cover is formed by deciduous forests. Various species of flowers can be found here: creeping bellflower Campanula rapunculoides, matragon lily Lilium martagon, Trifolium alpestre, globe-flower Trollius altissimus or autumn crocus Colchicum autumnale
Upper montane zone begins at 1200m and extends up to 1500m. It is a domain of the coniferous forest. On the south slopes of the mountains, the upper border of both the deciduous and pine forests runs 150-200 meters higher than on the steeper and colder north slopes. Open moist meadows are the best habitat for orchid species.
Subalpine zone stretches from 1500m to 2000m. It is the domain of the mountain pine and the common juniper. From the floristic point of view, it is the most interesting habitat. In spring it is covered by enchanting carpets of crocuses. The mountain cornflower Cyanus montanus and the mountain garlic grow here. Allium montanum. The typical representative of this zone is the Carpathian rhododendron with its red shining flowers.
Alpine zone in the Făgăraş Mountains begins at 2000m and reaches the highest peaks. The alpine pastures are covered by sedges. It is the best habitat for some extremely rare species of flora - relics from the Ice Age, such as Dianthus glacialis. Among other important species are the alpine bellflower Campanula alpina, Primula elatior, Hieracium alpinum, Leontopodium alpinum, Aconitum and Saxifraga.
In the Făgăraş Mountains, the flora is richest in the subalpine and alpine areas. In comparison with other mountains, the Făgăraş boast the largest number of endemic species of flowers which can't be encountered anywhere else in the world.
Fauna of the Făgăraş Mountains is typical of the high mountain zone. The most representative animal of the highest, alpine areas is the Carpathian chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra carpatica). Many populations of this subspecies occur throughout the Transylvanian Alps. Carpathian chamois are slightly bigger than their relatives in the Alps. As a species, the chamois is still common and not threatened. However, several subspecies are on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Animals. There have been a number of successful reintroductions.
Another animal typical of the Făgăraş Mountains is the marmot. Unfortunately, this largest squirrel species is on the verge of extinction. Among the big birds of prey that soar over the mountains are the eagle and the vulture. There is also the big forest game: the Carpathian brown bear, the deer and the wild boar. As for the bears, however, their population is relatively small (fewer than a hundred individuals) compared to some other Carpathian mountains. Most of them still keep away from humans and don't constitute such a big threat as the depraved bears of the Bucegi Mountains.
Mountain lakes, or tarns, are truly jewels of nature and they are said to be the pearls of mountains. To some they resemble big or small mirrors scattered in the mountain valleys - emerald green, dark blue or black in color - enhance the mountain landscapes greatly. They are precious relics of the past epoch when the valleys were filled with glaciers which gouged the rock under their cold bodies. The tarns of the Făgăraş are full of splendour and magnificence but they are also sources of crystal-clear water which, however, must be boiled before drinking.
The largest natural lake of the Făgăraş is Bâlea Lake (46 acres), Podragu Lake is the deepest (15.5 m) and Mioarelor Lake is situated at the highest altitude (2282 m).
| ||Altitude(m)||Area(ha)||Depth(m)|| || |
In the early 1970s the Transfăgăraşan Road was built between Arpaşu de Jos - Bâlea Waterfall - Lake Bâlea - Vidraru Artificial Lake - Curtea de Argeş. This second highest road in Romania is 90 km long and at an altitude of 2042 meters turns into a tunnel dug under the main crest of the Făgăraş Mountains. Due to severe weather conditions, the road is only passable in the summer period (approx. 3 months a year). Between Cascada Bâlea Hut (1234m) and Lake Bâlea (2030m) a cable car runs almost all year round.
For current weather conditions on the Transfăgăraşan Road check out this live webcam:
Jurnalul National Balea Lac-Transfagarasan
- Bucharest airports
- German Railways
- Romanian Railways
- Tips to help you drive acrosss Romania: on the outstanding Retezat page by Peterbud
Red Tape, Camping, Dangers
There are only a few nature reserves in the Făgăraş Mountains, namely: the area around Lake Bâlea, the clearing with daffodils near Vad, the hunting reserve in the Arpaşul Valley and the fossils reserve near Turnul Roşu. Although the Făgăraş Mountains are home to many unique species of the Carpathian animals and plants, the number of nature reserves isn't big yet.
Dangers in summer:
- Bad weather, slippery rock
- Flock-guarding dogs (see description and comments below this pic)
- Bears (they're not as much of a problem as in the Bucegi Mountains since they're not depraved by tourists yet): try to put up your tent above timberline, don't keep food inside, check out the following link to find out how to behave if you meet a bear.
- Adders (a bite shouldn't kill you unless you're allergic but serum will be necessary)
Huts & RefugesThe main range of the Făgăraş Mountains is completely free of any hostels. There is a network of mountain refugees scattered in each section of the Făgăraş Mountains.
|Refuge||Altitude (meters)||Nearby Peaks||Nearest source of water (minutes)||Capacity (persons)||Location|
Situated at 2136m, Podragu Hut is the highest tourist hut in the Făgăraş Mountains.Located at 2044m, Paltinul Hut is the best known hut just near the Transfăgăraşan road.
|Hut, altitude in meters a.s.l.||Nearby Peaks||Nearest Train Station/DN||www/e-mail||Telephone/Mobile||Remarks|
Maps & Books
- Interactive map
(click on it and you will find descriptions of the marked routes)
- An older but pretty large scale map to be studied online
- Muntii Nostri map to be studied online (please click Trails and zoom in)
- A paper map can be purchased online here
- free downloadable resources
- The Mountains of Romania - guidebook by James Roberts.
- Góry Fogaraskie - guidebook by P. Klimek.
Weather & Rescue Service
- Weather today and forecast in Făgăraş city
- Weather today and forecast in Bâlea Lac
- Bilea Lac and Romania
- Webcam at Bâlea Lac
- Avalanche report updated every two days in the winter season
The national Salvamont dispatcher is: 0-SALVAMONT (0725-826668).
|Area covered||Rescue team||Name||Phone number|
More External Links
you can find here info for tourists and climbers.
- GPS Points
- GPS Tracks
- About 20 dozen pix - scroll down! (To view the photos as a slide show, click the rectangle in the bottom right-hand corner.)
- More photos from alpinet.org
- More photos from carpati.org
- BBC report on a winter accident
- an interesting TR
Additions and Corrections[ Post an Addition or Correction ]