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Piatra Craiului

Piatra Craiului

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Piatra Craiului

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Brasov (Transylvania), Romania, Europe

Lat/Lon: 45.52660°N / 25.21100°E

Object Title: Piatra Craiului

Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 7346 ft / 2239 m


Page By: yatsek, andreeacorodeanu

Created/Edited: Sep 27, 2010 / Jan 28, 2014

Object ID: 665436

Hits: 13232 

Page Score: 97.36%  - 68 Votes 

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In my back Ţimbalul Mic  seen from south
Ţimbalele (Dulcimer)

Piatra Craiului (ro)

Királykő (hu)

Königstein (de)

rising just east of the Făgăraş and Iezer mountains, is usually regarded as the east end of the Făgăraş group (part of the South Carpathians) and has always been regarded highly, which is reflected in the name of the mountains that translates as Royal Rock, or King's Stone.

The Piatra Craiului is - in a nutshell - over a dozen kilometers long, narrow ridge of Jurassic limestone, which runs NNE to South like a stately sawtooth wave. Its sister range – a lookalike at the other, north end of the Carpathian arc – is the part of the Tatras called the Bela Tatras. The Piatra Craiului's little sister inside the South Carpathians is the massif of Buila-Vănturariţa in the Căpăţînii Mountains, beyond the other, west end of the Făgăraş group. All these limestone mountains – thanks to their jaggedness – have remained fairly untouched by the pastoral economy that has shaped the landscapes of nearly all Carpathian ranges for centuries, if not millennia. No wonder the Piatra Craiului is home to many a bear, wolf and lynx as well as endemic flower species, such as the pink named Dianthus callizonus.
Ţimbalul Mare - north ridge
North Ridge:
Ţimbalul Mare, 2177m
Piatra Craiului 2
North Ridge:
western walls
Piatra Craiului
North Ridge in summer
Far right: Piatra Mică

The Piatra Craiului is every Carpathian scrambler's dream. Those who prefer technical climbing also frequently scale its sheer limestone walls and towers, although the Bucegi Mountains, which sit about 20km to the south-east, are much more popular with climbers. Piatra Craiului is a compact mountain range, perfect for day hikes or climbs. Weather permitting, you can hike along the marked trail from a hut at the foot of the mountains (at 750 to 850m) up onto the crest whose highest summit, La Om or Piscul Baciului (Pásztor-csúcs/Hirtenspitze/Shepherd's Peak), is 2,239m high, and come back down within one long summer day. The main ridge trail is normally covered in two days. Talking of difficulty, the waymarked trail is mostly the British scrambling grade 1, and at a few spots grade 2. NB There is no water anywhere on or near the crest.
North ridge - Ţimbalele
Creasta Nordică, i.e. the North Ridge, on a January 24th
Piatra Craiului
The western walls
Capre Negre
La Zaplaz/Deubel Holes
Deubel Holes
aka La Zaplaz

It is only intersected by two waymarked trails running across the ridge (from its west foot to the eastern foothills): Plaiul Foii-Padina Popii-Cabana Curmătura near its north end, and Plaiul Foii-Refugiul Grind near its center (and its highest summit). The latter trail forms a dividing line between what is called Creasta Sudică and Creasta Nordică, that is to say the North and the South ridges of the Piatra Craiului. This is a split for convenience as there is no natural divide between these areas. What is meant by the main ridge trail here extends between the passes (pass = şa/şaua) of Crăpăturii in the north and Funduri in the south. In summertime, in good weather conditions, no heavy pack on one's back, a hike along the marks (which traverse the most difficult parts of the crest) takes over 10 hours. However, the actual length of the whole main ridge, including the southernmost section, is nearly 25km – twice as much as the length of the main ridge trail as depicted above.
Piatra Craiului - South Ridge
South Ridge in April
The main ridge seen from east side
East face south of La Om
South ridge of Piatra Craiului
South Ridge: mid-autumn

The waymarked route within the northern chunk of the South Ridge (primary image) is more exposed, therefore it is often considered to be a little bit more difficult than the marked path along the North Ridge, which is in fact harder to scale if you are feeling like sticking to the crest proper all along the way (no chance without the necessary gear). The west half of the trail that forms the division line is a scenic route known as La Lanţuri ("Chains"), passing by some beautiful limestone arches at a spot called La Zaplaz. The west face of the Piatra Craiului is an imposing wall whose highest parts are virtually inaccessible for non-technical climbers, except for a few routes, such as La Lanţuri (marked with red and white stripes, secured with metal cables at several spots) and a couple of unmarked paths reaching UIAA grade II, that is to say more or less YDS 5.2 or perhaps 5.3 in terms of technical difficulty. (In wet conditions the limestone gets very slippery and hazards can increase drastically.) This western flank of the mountains is cut by steep ravines, elaborately decorated with thousands of limestone walls and towers, among which you can get lost easily. The east face is much gentler except for a couple of places, such as the northernmost section of the South Ridge. The northeast edge of the mountains, several hundred meters lower (1,816m) but no different in shape from what runs to the south-west from it, is named Piatra Mică, i.e. Little Rock and towers right over the town of Zărneşti.

South Ridge
East face of the South Ridge in winter.
Lespezi - Umerilor ridge (2142m)
East face of the South Ridge in summer.

National Park & Red Tape

the bear
A Royal Rock bear

The mountains have been designated a National Park so you are only allowed to camp at the campsites by the huts. If you get caught off the waymarked trail, you are likely to incur a fine of several hundred euros! Here's more about the Park rules

the flower 3
Garofiţa Pietrei Craiului, i.e. Dianthus callizonus - an endemic species

Capre Negre
The chamois

When To Go

Piatra Craiului - South Ridge
On the South Ridge in April

In wintertime relatively few people go climbing in the Piatra Craiului, on the other hand, among those few people the percentage of SP members seems to be a little higher, not to mention the percentage of SP dogs.:) In June there can still be plenty of snow in the couloirs and ravines. In July and August, the trails can get crowded in places. July can be rainy, depending on the year. Late summer and the first half of autumn seem to offer the best chance of your enjoying whatever snowless fun you have come for.

  • mid-May video: up Ciorânga Canyon (4 parts)
  • June trad climbing: photo-TR plus a video at the very end

Climbers on Calinet Valley in spring
In spring, climbing up Padina lui Călineţ

Weather Forecast

After rain
The summer rain's over.

Rescue Team & Guides

The national Salvamont dispatcher is: 0 salvamont or 0725 826668

Area covered Rescue team Name Phone number
North Ridge
Pivodă Ioan (Chief of rescue team Zărneşti)
0726 686 689
South Ridge
Câmpulung Muscel (Argeş)
Holoboşan Alexandru (Chief of rescue team Câmpulung Muscel)
0744 270 266, 0726 686 678

Piatra Craiului
A rescue team member's huskies

You can hire a guide, such as this.


Refuge Ascuţit (Lehmann)
Refuge Lehmann on Vf. Ascuţit (Sharp Peak), 2150m, in the N part of the N Ridge

In summertime, finding accommodation at the foot of the Piatra Craiului is not difficult. There are several huts (in winter they are usually packed with people), often with an adjacent camping ground, around the mountains. The town of Zărneşti offers a range of guesthouses. The mountains are dotted with characteristic refuges, most of which look like halved soccer balls. These refuges are unmannned, rudimentary and unlocked. They offer shelter if the weather gets foul or if it's getting dark and the hut/campground is still a long way away. Two of the refuges are located on the main ridge, both at above 2,000m. The first huts and refuges in the Piatra Craiului were built toward the end of the 19th century by the Siebenbürgischer Karpaten Verein: More about the history on the NP page as well as on SP.

In the second plan, far, hut Curmătura
Curmătura Hut
in the background
Funny faces in the morning :)
Hut owner's
double bear hug
La Om (2239m)
Refuge at Grind Saddle
and nearby La Om at 2239m

The most convenient base for the North Ridge area is a place called Plaiul Foii, where a hut has stood for over a century and where today there are several facilities in which rooms/beds can be rented, plus a campground where one can pitch the tent (do not count on peace and quiet). For the South Ridge area, Cabana Garofiţa Pietrei Craiului (cabana = hut) can be a nice place to stay. The most convenient hut for Piatra Mică is no doubt Cabana Curmătura at 1470m, the only problem being the quality of service and cleanliness, of which there have been some not very enthusiastic opinions in recent decades, so to some a cozy guesthouse in Zărneşti may be a more appealing option.

Plaiul Foii from Brâul Ciorânga Mare and the N-E foothills of Făgăraş.
Foot of the west wall down below; Plaiul Foii on the left

Getting There

Prapastiile Zarnestiului
NNW gate
Access to the mountains is pretty good. Apart from the road, there are good railway connections from Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, to the city of Braşov, where - if going by train - you have to change and get on the train for the town of Zărneşti (the journey takes just about half an hour) at the very foot of the Piatra Craiului.

Piatra Craiului
The very top of La Om a.k.a. Piscul Baciului, 2239m

Maps & Books (plus a Movie:))

Frozen (Piatra Craiului)
Freezing in September
Sad but true

Nort ridge from Zănoaga Glade.
East face of the North Ridge

More External Links

Cerdacul Stanciului
W foot of S Ridge
Piatra Craiului - north ridge
Head in the clouds

Piatra Craiului - home to the lucky bear and the lucky man

Two souls united...
January 2009;
Andreea: lots of photos,
experience, up-to-date info
Towards Nedeia, Căpăţînii Mts
August 1978;
Jacek: layout, 1 photo,
good memories, research