I haven't given many details regarding the places we visited or the names of the shelters because here we try to keep such things secret so that the refuges won't be destroyed by some pseudo-tourists.
I didn't have any clue where to spend my last week of vacation :). When talking with my coworker Marius from the Iasi studio, I chose to go with him in October, when he could take his vacation. I managed to take a week off at the same time. Meanwhile there were many changes in my humble existence, I met some fantastic people, one of whom, Andrei, expressed his desire to go with us. It would be the first time he'd spent a week in the mountains even though he goes every weekend, never missing one :). Marius would join us on Monday. Andrei and I were supposed to start climbing on Friday, but finally we went on Saturday around lunch, pfff, the weather wasn't great, a lot of rain, why not have some more sleep? :)) When we got out the door, wow, we looked like two Santa Clauses with huge backpacks full of gear so we took a taxi instead of tram and subway in order to relieve people from a major stress :)).
On the train one talkative woman living in Vienna made the time pass quickly, very quickly; we did not realize that we'd arrived at Brasov City. In Brasov we decided to take the bus to Zarnesti as we would have had to wait about 2 hours for the train. We arrived late at Gura Raului, which on our previous trip was our base for about 2 days. Till Monday morning when Marius came we would just stay in the tent, watching movies, listening to music, having tons of food and many snacks with a special schedule: All week we made it a habit to wake up at night to take a snack LOL. Bad weather all weekend, why do not we let our tired bones rest a little?
Marius arrived in the morning after a night of driving and we went to seek the hidden shelter in which we'd been planning to stay. The weather was pretty foggy and cloudy, but was changing for the better.
It was the first time Marius and I had seen the shelter. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and well maintained it was, I felt like I was at home :D, I liked it very much. We explored the area in the vicinity of the refuge and the notebooks inside it. We found some stories written by the guy who first built it. I was making much sense on that day :). I was somewhere up on a cliff with a great view of the area and looking down to the road to Plaiul Foii when I saw something black moving and I said: Look there's a doggie! Andrei was dying of laughter when he heard, it was a car of course, how could I see a dog there so far away and wow, how fast that "dog" was LOL! Me and my imagination or... insanity?
Down to the car, ate well, took small backpacks and went up to the Crapaturii Valley to try and climb the Needle, Corner Crack 3A. The wind blew hard but the weather was forecast to be better this time. I liked the valley a lot as well as talking to Andrei when we waited for Marius. Andrei as usual, when we arrived, got ready quickly and started to climb the first pitch. I gave my camera to Marius so he could take pictures of us - he had decided to quit, he wasn't ready to rockclimb that day.
First pitch First anchor station
Ohhh I strongly disliked the first pitch, lots of grass, unstable rocks, lucky I wasn't leading pffff. After the first pitch we sit for a while, smoke a cigarette, then Andrei continues and continues and continues, he disappears from sight and it's also hard to hear him. Luckily Marius shouts to me from down there and explains what Andrei is doing and where he is. The wind begins to blow, some ugly clouds appear, it's getting late and cold and I am thinking of quitting but at that moment Marius screams to me that Andrei is in the saddle before the top. Ehh well then, why give up, we have to finish it :D. I start finally, try hard to pull out some of the slings but I fail, Andrei tells me to leave them as we can take them on the way back. I pass the heavier passages pretty fast, wow, that's the benefit of being the second.
Corner Crack 3A The window from the saddle before the last lenght to the top
Finally I get myself to the saddle where the second pitch begins. Oh how beautiful it is, it looks like a window with impressive views. We follow the last length of rope, short and easy, to the summit.There we climb the highest of the higher crag's tops :D. Marius took photos of us from the trail, poor him, I think he was so bored and freezing waiting there. We sit down for a while again and admire all that beautiful views. Meanwhile Andrei decides to try to rappel directly from the top if the ropes can reach the first pitch. You can choose two rappels, one back to the saddle and another one right down to the first pitch avoiding problems with recovering the ropes.
Andrei goes first and when he reaches the first pitch, he says that he will try to check if the rope doesn't get stuck. Of course we aren't so lucky, it gets stuck at a little rock edge because of the node which just won't pass it at all. Andrei tells me to go under the spot where the rope is stuck, and to try to pull it till the node moves, pfua a hard thing to do, I start to shake in that place and get afraid a bit, it is so stunning, so high and I am not in a funny position but it is the only thing I can do, otherwise I will have to pull back the ropes and rappel to the saddle.
The top Impressive view from the saddle or window
Another rappel and we were down there with Marius. Happy with the success, we got to Plaiul Foii at dark and pitched our tent (we never leaeve anything there because of frequent thefts :() Marius didn't want to put up his tent, choosing to sleep under the stars in his sleeping bag. I offered to pitch his tent for him :) but he refused. It started to rain and we heard the car doors slam soon hahahaha. We woke in the middle of the quiet night, as usual, to crunch something.
Before I had a toothache
We started with a coffee and omelettes in Plaiul Foii hut then got ready for a hike in the Anghelide area, unmarked. But soom I suddenly stopped on the way, an awful toothache made me run back, I didn't have any painkillers with me. The boys continued.
I reached the car, struggled with both tents. When I started to pitch them a crazy wind made me feel like I was a kite or paraglider. It took me a while to fight it but I finally succeeded. The good side of being alone there was that I could go to the river and have a wash. When I finished I was surprised to see Andrei! He did not want to leave me alone there all day. Well, I am a big girl, I can manage alone but I was glad to see him :D !! Then we went to the hut, drank a beer on the terrace, ate, got lazy, cold began to bite so we got into the tent. It was late when Marius returned. His strong flashlight made me think that I could see a dog's eye. What a crazy imagination I had on this trip lol. Marius told us how it was by the Termopile - a crazy hike through unmarked wild places. He'd lost the trail but luckily found it. Now he was proudly showing us his scratches and telling us how he'd walked in the dark through an area which is home to bears, but he'd seen only rabbits.
We tried to convince him to take us in his car to Zarnesti so that we could buy cigarettes, coffee and sweets, but no way, he was too tired to drive! We considered going on foot but it was too much: 12 km one way, also we should not be tired the next day - the plan was to climb Coarnele Caprei (Goat Horns), a nice rockclimbing route, 4 A 8lc. Would we climb it tomorrow? In the night the usual snack, snickers, red wine, a beautiful view of the ridge in the dark that made us gaze at it for quite a while in spite of the cold.
Andrei on first pitch of Black Rose 3B 6 6+
Oh it was so cold all night and such a cold morning also! We could not get out of the tent in any form in the first hour, we just moved to the hut pretty late where it was warm and we had a coffee! Ohh I couldn't believe it when Marius brought ice from the car! Yes, it was clear and beautiful now but freezing at night and in the morning!
We ran to Zarnesti, the Coarnele Caprei plan had fallen through, it was too late already. We bought more cigarettes, 3 in 1 coffee a lot, too much :)), some sweets and some food for the next days. We went back and thought about what to do. Marius wanted to rest while Andrei and I decided to go to Diana, via the Padina Popii trail, to try the Black Rose rockclimbing route. On the way there we both felt tired and took a break in the sun before finally we got to the base of Black Rose,3B,6/6+.
It was already late and we weren't in our best shape at all. I did not feel well, maybe if I had insisted a little more Andrei would have continued but it wouldn't have been any pleasure. We will return another time for sure. Now we climbed just the first pitch. I do not know if that was the right decision but honestly what's the point of climbing if you don't feel well? We went down back to Plaiul Foii pretty fast.
Andrei on the first pitch and me at the base
View from the wall
Again coffee in the hut, usually until we finished it the sun had come out :), we ate some eggs again and decided to go to find some Princess, that is to say another hidden shelter. It was a very pleasant trail, incredibly wild and beautiful and although we were tired we were enjoying every moment of the day. We saw some grouse flying, I marvelled at the impressive scenery, and finally the shelter showed up. It looked like it was cut out of a fairy tale! As pretty as the one we visited on Monday, too bad someone had destroyed the tables inside, luckily the stove still worked. The boys went to pick some wood for the next days and I started to cook, what organized guys we were :). A great evening followed, we could see the nearby Bucegi Mountains in all their splendor, many colorful lights from the cities and a dream beautiful crescent of the moon! I was loving that place! Some funny old traditional songs topped off the evening.
We woke up, drank our coffee as usual till the sun appeared, this time in front of the shelter, on a cliff from where we had a great view. We were still thinking of climbing Coarnele Caprei, but rarely do plans made at home match what happens in the field... So I would go with Andrei, Marius would remain there to explore the area, yeah right, he felt like being lazy again. We got off, through a chimney, and onto the ridge.
We sat for a short while to admire the beautiful scenery, ohhh gosh I love these mountains! Then we left the sunny place and got in the shade and cold toward Padina lui Calinet. And lower, and lower, at one point Andrei called me and pointed at a herd of chamois, ohhhh how beautiful they were and how many of them already had black fur!!! Then we admired the edge of Timbal wall with its specific towers, typical of the Piatra Craiului, which seem to be out of an old fairy tale. We went on descending and descending. It was becoming harder and steeper, some help from Andrei, my knee hurt and kept telling me all the time: Hey I'm here, I've woken up and I want to be your friend! Pfffff .... We met a group of people and stopped for a while because they knew Andrei from carpati.org or his blog, ohh these stars and elves.
Finally we arrived at the place where Andrei expected the route to begin. We tried to find the beginning, guessing which spot it might be. Then Andrei prepared to go to look for the first piton.
He found it, but stayed there not knowing what to do. It was late, frustration and indecision came over us. I thought that he wanted to do that route so bad. I told him that if he wanted I would come whatever happened but he took the hard decision, so hard to quit because of lack of time. We didn't know the route or if it is short enough for us to manage to do it before dark. I felt sadness and I felt stupid and did not know what to do or what to say. We packed the gear so sad, reached the Sperantelor Shelter and started to scramble up the Window Gully . Pfff I felt tired already from the descent of Padina lui Calinet and it was harder that it should be to pass all those steps also because of the pain in my knees. Andrei started to hurry me because we still had a long way to go to the shelter and we wanted to detour via Curmatura Hut so that we could eat something warm, a big detour from our route. Ufff I wished I could stay longer in that gorgeous area, especially just out of the Cioranga Canyon. I took as many pictures as I could and ran after Andrei. Soon we got onto the ridge and the marked trail very close to Ascutit Peak with its refuge. We wanted to avoid all the people from there and got down very fast to Curmatura Hut, in less than an hour :). We sat outside the hut with a friend of Andrei's who we met there, beer, coke, the much needed food, which was cold not hot as we'd dreamed but good, cabbage with sausage and hot pepper which really was hot, we felt it a long time after :)).
Window Gully Out of Cioranga Canion
The sun was gone and the cold began to reign again. On the way down although we were so sad we still had the power to admire the beautiful autumn colors, the river that rippled through the silence, all week had been so good, quiet, no living soul: What a pleasure it is to be in the mountains! The dark overpowered us when we got into the forest on the trail to the shelter. My imagination went crazy again, I started to imagine countless bear paws coming out of the trees and pulling me there. Andrei is always laughing at my fear of bears and he played some Romanian folk music on his mobile to relax me. Hahahah we went on with that music there in dark. Soon we reached the glade before the shelter where we had a long stop to admire another beautiful view. The shadows of the trees and the crescent of the moon above them looked unreal, so unreal, like in a fairy tale, like in the perfect world, another world which you wouldn't leave, where you would stay for ages. It's hard to put into words everything we felt out there at that moment, incredibly beautiful and special, I will never forget it.
Out of Cioranga Canion
The cold made us to move in the end and soon we arrived at the shelter where Marius was waiting for us with the fire already made. It was so warm and so hospitable, like at home. Andrei took out a beer and gave it to Marius, which made him happy. We ate and drank together. Marius had spent all day there, just strolling around, pfua lazy Marius, I told you ha ha. A few talks and we fell asleep soon, with stories from 1001 nights this time lol. After 11 hours out, yes we felt tired :)
Nothing interesting, going down, a stop at Gura Raului Hut where we ate, wow I ate everything, usually I leave something on the plate but I felt so hungry then. Marius took us to Brasov from where we caught a train to Bucharest right away.
At the end of my story I will rewrite a few words translated from Andrei's blog where he has posted my diary (he says he was too lazy to write anything himself).
We had the fog, rain and wind but also we had the sun and freezing temperatures. We had lazy moments, hikes and a few rock climbs. But above all I had wonderful people with me. I enjoyed our trip a lot and I can only say it was just wonderful!