Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 45.35824°N / 22.85362°E
Additional Information County: Hunedoara
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Mixed, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 7867 ft / 2398 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Vârful Judele (meaning "Judge Peak") might not be among the most visited summits in Retezat Mountains, but certainly is among the wildest. It has 2398 m altitude and offers one of the most amazing views over Central Retezat with all its peaks and lakes.

Turnul Portii and JudeleView towards Turnul Portii and Judele (in background).

Judele Judele in autumn.

It is accessible to tourists from Şaua Judele (Judele col, 2370 m) and is delimiting towards NW / N the mysterious Gemenele Scientific Reserve. The access in this area is only allowed with special authorizations. It's said they make studies to observe plants evolution without any human interaction. Personally, I think they've found an extraterrestrial spaceship there (joking).

It’s impossible to talk about Judele Peak without mentioning its smaller brother: Turnul Porţii (meaning "Gate Tower"). Spectacular granite tower, having 2287 m altitude, with an airy summit ridge and vertical walls up to 170 m. A col separates it from Judele.

Judele has three main ridges which connects him to the rest of the peaks in the area. Towards W - Bârlea Peak (2348 m), Sesele Mari (2324) and Sesele Mici (2278 m). Towards SE - Şaua Judele, Slăveiu Peak (2347 m) then continues with Culmea Slăveiului. And towards NE – Turnul Porţii, Poarta Bucurei (2280 m), Bucura I (2433 m). The latter is the only part of Retezat's northern main ridge which is not passable without climbing gear. No further arguments are needed to say that this is the roughest corner of Retezat.

Being located somehow in the middle, almost all of the the highest peaks and about a dozen beautiful alpine lakes of Retezat Mountains are visible from this spot. The best view opens towards the East: in the Bucura cirque alone you can spot as many as 6 (+2 smaller) tarns, with Vf. Peleaga, Vf. Mare and Vf. Custura in the background. In the Northerly direction you will look down to Ştirbu Lake and see Vf. Bucura and Vf. Retezat, as well as Turnu Porţii and Poarta Bucurei. In the South, the Slăveiu ridge dominates the horizon, in the East and Southeast the lowering ridges provide views to the more distant neighbouring ranges Ţarcu and Godeanu, respectively.

The best panorama of RetezatSpledid panorama of Central Retezat from Judele summit.

Lakes of the Bucura valleyClick for details.

Getting There

The most convenient access point is Bucura Lake. From here follow the market tourist trail to Saua Judele, then Judele Peak.

There are other variants also:
● from Gentiana / Pietrele Valley (longer)
● from Gura Zlata or Gura Apei Lake (much longer, 8-9 hours of hiking required)

The shortest access path to Bucura Lake is from Poiana Pelegii. For more details about access and accommodation please visit parent page dedicated chapter or the official site of Retezat National Park.
National Park Retezat, Romania

Red Tape

Judele Peak is sitting right on the border of Gemenele Scientific Reserve. The reserve is delimited to east and south by the main ridge Retezat PeakBucura I - Poarta Bucurei - JudeleSesele MariRadesu Mare. It’s marked by red square with white outline. Access to this area is only permitted with authorization from Romanian Scientific Academy.

Camping is not permitted outside of designated places.

Wood-fire, swimming in glacial lakes and disturbance of local flora and fauna are prohibited. Washing with soap or detergents in alpine waters is not encouraged. All the wastes, including the biodegradable ones, should be taken outside of the park.

For other useful information please check the dedicated section from parent page Retezat Mountains and the rules of Retezat National Park here.
Gemenele Lake Scientific Reserve territory.
Turnul Porţii and Judele peak Gemenele Reserve border.
L. Stirbu Stirbu Lake.


Judele lies far from all huts operating in Retezat. However, it is well accessible from two nearby official campsites. Bucura Lake (2040 m) is closer (approach to climbing walls takes less than one hour), but Zănoaga Lake (2000 m) is not far, either. At both places, there are water sources and basic shelters (used by the Salvamont mountain rescue team in the summer season, thus not available for others during this time, only in emergency). Poiana Pelegii campsite (1630 m) is also a suitable starting point, although you will have to cover more elevation from there (first you will have to ascend to Bucura Lake).

More information about these campsites can be found on the dedicated section of the parent page Retezat Mountains.

Bucura refugeSalvamont refuge
at Bucura Lake.
CampingUnfavourable weather at
Bucura Lake campsite.
Salvamont refuge
at Zănoaga Lake.


Gendarmes of Retezatfrom Tăul Porţii
Bucura valleyfrom Viorica lake
Hanging lakeAgățat lake and Poarta Bucurei ridge
Slaveiului ridgeSlăveiului ridge

First of all, let's mention that no marked trail leads to the summit of Judele (so, if you take the NP rules very strictly, it is not allowed to climb it). However, one of the marked trails crosses the Judele saddle, which is so near to the peak that temptation is hard to resist if you are not afraid of a little scrambling. The saddle can be approached in four possible ways:

1) Bucura Lake – Tăul Porţii - Agățat Lake – Şaua Judele

Difficulty: difficult
Time: 1.5 - 2 h
Level rising: + 400 m
Marking: blue stripe -> yellow stripe -> red dot

2) Bucura Lake – Ana Lake - Viorica Lake - Florica Lake - Agătat Lake – Şaua Judele

Difficulty: difficult
Time: 1 - 1.5 h
Level rising: + 380 m
Marking: red dot

Routes #1 and #2 merge by the well-hidden Agățat (Hanging) Lake, situated just below Turnul Porţii. From here a steep ascent follows up to Judele saddle - this part of the route is usually covered with snow until summer, and can be dangerous to tackle unprepared in such conditions.

3) Zănoaga Lake - Şaua Judele

Difficulty: moderate
Time: 1 - 1.5 h
Level rising: + 370 m
Marking: red dot

4) Bucura Lake – Tăul Agăţat - Şaua Judele – Vârful Slăvei – Şaua Slăvei – Ana Lake - Bucura Lake

Difficulty: difficult
Time: 4 - 5 h
Distance: approx 5.5 km
Level rising: + 550 m/ - 550 m
Marking: red dot, stone marking, yellow dot

Route #4 follows Slăveiului Ridge (from Şaua Judele to Vârful Slăvei) which is wild and marked only with stones, so the hiker must be prepared for some route finding. But this probably makes it even more interesting. Recommended circuit, together with the small deviation to Judele Peak.

Judele peak
Judele from Judele saddle

Once you have reached the Judele saddle, take the obvious ridge (unmarked) towards the peak. The first section is wide and comfortable. When you reach the base of the summit, it gets more exposed (see the photo on the left). The safest route is a path on the western side of the ridge (the photo on the left shows the exposed eastern face), which is occasionally marked with stone piles. Soon you will reach the summit of Judele, marked with a wooden pole.

For more trails and information please check Retezat Mountains tourist map.



Yes, Judele and Turnul Portii are one of the places in Retezat Mountains suitable for alpine climbing and mountaineering. This spot is mentioned even in old Romanian climbing books, the routes here being established quite some time ago. A big advantage is the proximity to Bucura Lake camping and the easy access to the walls. The climbing routes are located in two distinct zones: Turnul Portii and the E and SE face of Judele. NOTE: Some of the routes are inside Gemenele Scientific Reserve. A permit might be necessary to climb them. If there are any doubts regarding this, please contact Retezat National Park. The first routes were established in Judele Peak in 1961 by Emilian Cristea, the pioneer of Romanian climbing and mountaineering. Routes in Turnul Portii:
ID Name Pitches FRTA*
First Ascent
A. NE face of Turnul Portii 4 2A V- A. Irimia, E. Cristea (20.09.1961)
B. Route from Canionul Judele/Turnul Portii ? 2A ? A. Irimia, E. Cristea
C. Turnul Portii W ridge ? 3A ? A. Irimia, E. Cristea
D. Custura NV a Turnului Portii
(entry from L. Stirbului)
? 2A ? E. Cristea, A. Irimia
E. Taul Agatat 5 2B ? A. Irimia, E. Cristea (20.09.1961)
F. Turnul Portii NE ridge integral 9 2B V- ?

Routes in Judele:
ID Name Pitches FRTA*
First Ascent
G. Traseul no. 1 from Creasta Gemenele ? 4B ? E. Cristea
H. Traseul no. 2 from Creasta Gemenele ? 4B ? I. Karacziony, E. Cristea
I. Creasta Gemenele ? 3B ? I. Karacziony, A. Irimia, E. Cristea
J. Piciorul Judelui Mare ? 4A ? T. Cristina, E. Cristea
K. Roland Gellner 4 3B ? A. Irimia, E. Cristea (24.11.1961)
L. Custura Judelui ? 2A ? A. Irimia, E. Cristea
M. Custura cu Campanule from SE face of Judele ? 2A ? E. Cristea, L. Karacziony
*FRTA - Federatia Romana de Turism si Alpinism (Romanian Federation for Tourism and Mountaineering)

Summit ridgeTP summit ridge.
Climbing in JudeleOld diagram with the routes.
Turnul PortiiTP SE and NE face & Judele E.
JudeleTP summit ridge in winter.
Turnul Portii ridgeTP NE ridge integral.
Turnul Portii SE wallTP SE wall.

There isn't much information available about these routes and probably they are not climbed very often, but I managed to locate a few of them. Hopefully, after more climbing in Judele area, I will be able to add more pieces to the puzzle you see right now in the two tables and the old hand drawn sketch.

Romanian grading system (FRTA)

The alpine routes in Romania are rated in the Russian grading system and reflecting the overall difficulty of the route (while leaving out the technical difficulty of the hardest move). This is why most documentation also contains the UIAA free-climbing rating of the crux of the route, as well as the aid-climbing rating.

Detailed information about Russian grading system as well as conversion to French system can be found here.

The Romanian grades are known to be softer than the Russian ones. The 7A grade was also mentioned, something corresponding to the french ABO, but I don't know if this was finally accepted in the official scale.
My personal recommendation when choosing a [Romanian] route is to check first the UIAA technical difficulty and/or the aid grade and the number of pitches. Then treat the Romanian FRTA grade only as a generic overall difficulty indicator.

Conversion table:

Russian GradeAlpine Grade
6BED3 and up


Judele peak
Turnul Portii

When to climb

JudeleHarsh winter conditions

The most welcoming weather can be anticipated around late summer - early fall, when precipitation is relatively little, but temperatures are still warm, and the approach routes of Judele pass are free from snow.

In winter, Judele is reserved only for experienced mountaineers: the summer approach route poses serious avalanche danger, while the ridge approach is very exposed. There is no mountain rescue service in this time of the year, either (see Retezat Mountains parent page).

The summer route from Bucura Lake can be dangerous even in early summer, as snow remains on the final section (below Judele pass) for quite a long time, and the slope is very steep: once you're slid, it's hard to stop and there are hundreds of meters to go down, ending in rocky terrain...


Paper maps

See the Retezat Mountains parent page.

Online maps

A powerful free online map is being developed by the Open Maps Project for the area of Central Europe. If you are not familiar with the area or want to skip the zooming job, you can get a quick close-up view of Judele's area by following this permalink.

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-3 of 3

yatsek - Sep 5, 2010 6:22 am - Voted 10/10

Grading scales

I bet most SP'ers (including myself) aren't familiar with the Romanian grading scale so it might be a good idea to write a few lines about that so as to avoid confusion. Could you confirm the info here? Also, I can remember quite a few EC Europeans complaining recently about too wide pages being hard to read on a laptop screen, so maybe that greatest image could work equally well if it was just a bit smaller. Cheers, Jacek


mibu - Sep 5, 2010 3:26 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Grading scales

The information you pointed is correct. However, I see this confusion about Romanian climbing grades appeared a couple of times. So I wrote a small chapter where I collected all this info and added a few clarifications. I also reduced the wide picture you referred ;) Cheers, Mihai


yatsek - Sep 6, 2010 2:40 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: Grading scales


Viewing: 1-3 of 3



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Retezat MountainsMountains & Rocks