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Piatra Craiului
Area/Range

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 / May 18, 2016

Object ID: 665436

Hits: 13655 

Page Score: 97.26%  - 67 Votes 

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Overview

 
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 flower 3
Dianthus callizonus



Piatra Craiului is - in a nutshell - over a dozen kilometers long, narrow ridge of Jurassic limestone, which runs NNE to S 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. 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 Piatra Craiului is home to many a bear, wolf and lynx as well as endemic flower species, such as the pink named Dianthus callizonus.

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 (the North Ridge) in a January
Ţimbalul Mare - north ridge
Ţimbalul Mare at 2177m (on the North Ridge)
Piatra Craiului
The North Ridge in summer. Far right: Piatra Mică

Piatra Craiului 1
Creasta Sudică (the South Ridge) in winter
South ridge of Piatra Craiului
On the South Ridge in mid-autumn
SW flank
Below Funduri pass

The ridge trail is only intersected by two waymarked paths 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 path forms a dividing line between what is called Creasta Sudică and Creasta Nordică, that is to say the North and the South ridges of 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 ridge
 The western face of Piatra Craiului seen from Plaiul Foii
Piatra Craiului
The walls above Brâul de Mijloc 
Scrambling to Poiana Închisă (Enclosed Glade)
Padina Lăncii


The western face of Piatra Craiului is an imposing wall whose highest parts are virtually inaccessible for non-technical climbers, except for a few routes, such as the scenic La Lanţuri ("Chains"), 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. This western flank of the mountains is cut by steep ravines, lined by and elaborately decorated with thousands of limestone walls and towers, among which you can get lost easily.

The La Lanţuri route, which is part of the line dividing the North Ridge from the South Ridge, passes by some beautiful limestone arches at a spot called La Zaplaz, which used to be known as Deubel Holes. Talking of karst arches, the greatest is Cerdacul Stanciului at the western base of the South Ridge.

La Zaplaz/Deubel Holes
Deubel Holes
 Zaplaz
aka La Zaplaz
La Cerdacul Stanciului
Cerdacul Stanciului
Cerdacul Stanciului
Cerdacul Stanciului

The eastern face of Piatra Craiului 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
The east face of the South Ridge in winter
Lespezi - Umerilor ridge (2142m)
The east face of the South Ridge in summer
Nort ridge from Zănoaga Glade.
The eastern face of the North Ridge

National Park & Red Tape

the bear
Bear sanctuary

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

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 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.


Frozen (Piatra Craiului)
Freezing in a September

Rescue Team & Guides


The national Salvamont dispatcher is: 0 salvamont or 0725 826668

Area coveredRescue teamNamePhone number
North Ridge
Zărneşti
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.

Accommodation

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

In summertime, finding accommodation at the foot of 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 shelters are located on the main ridge, both at above 2,000m. The first huts and shelters in 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 CurmăturaCurmătura Hut in the background
Funny faces in the morning :)Hut owner's double bear hug
La Om (2239m)Shelter at Grind Saddle near La Om, the highest peak


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

 
Zărneşti
Zărneşti
 
Prapastiile Zarnestiului
NE gate to Piatra Craiului
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 Piatra Craiului.

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

Maps & Books & Movies

 
Piatra Craiului from Bucegi mtns.
Piatra Craiului from Bucegi


More External Links

 
Piatra Craiului - north ridgeHead in the clouds
homePiatra Craiului - home to the lucky bear and the lucky man
Two souls united...January 2009;Andreea: photos, experience, up-to-date info
Towards Nedeia, Căpăţînii MtsAugust 1978;Jacek: layout, 1 photo,good memories, research

Images