Straddling the border between Ukraine and Romania, Pop Ivan is the highest mountain in the main ridge of the Marmarosh Mountains as well as being the highest summit of what Ukrainians often call Rakhivskyi hory (the Rakhiv Mountains). The peak is often called Pip Ivan Trebushanskiy (by Czech people Pop Ivan Trebušanský),by Polish people Pop Iwan Marmaroski) so that it will not be mistaken for one of his neighbours - Pip Ivan Chornohirskyi - at 2020m, a conspicuous summit in the southeast corner of the Chornohora).In my opinion, Pip Ivan is the most spectacular mountain of all in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
Four cirques were carved in its sides in the Pleistocene. One of these corries, on Pip Ivan's northeast side, looks like a perfect rocky amphitheatre, composed of a range of cliffs and small tarns. No wonder that Pop Ivan's steep rocky face is where the most frequent avalanches in the Ukrainian Carpathians have been registered. The highest peak of this three-summit, massive gneiss pyramid is marked with a rather ugly, concrete pylon.
Craggy NE face
Gentle NW face
The Marmarosh Pip Ivan used to be a very popular destination for the passionate hikers of the interwar times (1920-1938). The atmosphere of that bygone time can be described as follows:
It is hard to believe that on the top of Pop Ivan one can find carpets of blooming narcissuses and red alpine roses (Rhododendron kotschyi). A silhouette of a golden eagle can be seen high in the air. A spectator feels like he has been transferred to a lost world, surrounded by mountain ridges, submerged by divine tranquility of undisturbed nature.
Moving picture I made during my visit to the Ukrainian flank of Pop Ivan
Precambrian gneiss is one of the oldest rocks in the Carpathians and partly thanks to the location of the summit right on the international border, this picturesque scenery has remained virtually unmarred up to now.
Morning under Pop Ivan
UA Pip Ivan
Alpine roses with Pop Ivan
Maramaroskyi Massif Nature Reserve
III.glacial cirque of Pop Ivan
This part of the Carpathian Biosphere Reserve was established in 1992 on the Ukrainian side of Maramoroskyi massif.This reserve is part of Man and Biosphere project by UNESCO. It is located on the northern megaslope of the Rakhivskiy Mountains (sometimes called Hutsul Alps by locals) - one of the Maramoroskyi crystal massif’s spurs. The protected territory, with the area of 8990 ha, is located at an altitude of 750 - 1940 m.a.s.l. The main mountain unit is Pip Ivan Maramoroskyi (1940 m).
The massif is formed by the firm crystal sediments - gneisses, micaceous and quartz slates, marmoreal limestones of the Jurassic period. All these cause the specific features of relief, soil cover, flora and vegetation. The relief of Marmarosh massif is characterized by the deep intermountain valleys, numerous rocky crests and peaks. The traces of cainozoic ice formation - glacial cirques are typical for this area. The nature reserve called Lysychyi Strunzhen, established in 1912 is one of the oldest protected territories in the Ukrainian Carpathians.
Movie created by LukZem during his visit to the Maramoroskyi massif: part 1/3
The Maramoroskyi protected massif is characterized by the peculiar vegetable cover. It is stipulated by geological structure of the massif. The mixed and deciduous forests are usually formed by beech, fir and spruce. The beech virgin forests are widely spread in the southern slopes and soils, which are rich on calcium. On June 2007 clusters of virgin forests in Maramoroskyi massif were inscribed to the UNESCO's World Heritage List together with other sites in Ukraine and Slovakia as Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians.
Marmarosh virgin forest
The mixed phytocenosises are found in the largest part of the massif’s territory. The pure climax fir-groves are found at an altitude of 1600-1700 m, where the upper forest line lies, and the climate is cold. The subalpine and alpine meadows, with the fragments of elfine wood thicket, mainly formed by dwarf pine, are found at a higher altitude.
A number of rare plants, such as Anemonastrum narcissiflorum, Anthemis carpatica, Gentiana acaulis, Narcissus angustifolius, Poa deylii, Pulsatilla alba, Sempervivum montanum grow in the subalpine and alpine zones, and in the forest zone - also Campanula carpatica, Scopolia carniolica and others. Visitors are attracted by communities of Rhododendron Kotschyi. Red shining flowers of this east-carpathian endemic enhance the beauty of mountain sceneries.
Caltha palustris with Pip Ivan's cliffs
The heart of the Marmarosh massif is created by the three diverse peaks having different character. Petros (1780m) is covered by coniferous trees, Berlebashka (1733m) looks like grassland pasture and Pip Ivan (1938m) is characterized by craggy glacial cirques. Such a geodiversity on the area of only 5 sq km is a unique phenomenon. Because of their considerable height, geological structure, deep valleys and distinct glacial forms, the Hutsul Alps (called by the locals) are the most picturesque part of the Ukrainian Carpathians.
I.glacial cirque of Pop Ivan
The heart of Hutsul Alps
Rhododendron and Berlebashka summit
Movie created by LukZem during his visit to the Rakhivskyi mountains
Ideal of a nature lover (UKRAINE)
Yellow stripes trail (ROMANIA)
Pop Ivan massif is extremelly remote and it is hardly possible to reach its top in one single day. Tent is a necessary equipment, because there is no refuge near this summit. According to my informations from Valea Viseului, only about a few dozens of hikers a year climb this spectacular summit. What a difference in comparison with crowded Tatra Mountains. No wonder, Pop Ivan is the symbol of absolute tranquility and solitude. The table below shows access routes from Ukraine and Romania as well.
Elevation Gain (meters)
forest road following valley of Bilyi brook then ascending to Lysycha and skirting the NE face
yellow stripes only to Tomnatec-Sehleanu Narcissus Meadow, then continue to N and after reaching the border turn to W (left) with steep ascent following border posts
To get to the trailhead - if you don't go by car - see this chapter
E face of Pop Ivan massif
Craggy ridge in the morning
SE face with rhododendron
NE face of Pop Ivan in harsh winter
Patches of snow in summer
Pop Ivan massif is localized directly on the border between Ukraine and Romania. Ukraine is not part of EU zone, so it means access to the border line is very difficult.
The top of Pop Ivan high in the sky
Pop Ivan from the Chornohora
NB Ukrainian laws are kind of bothersome bureaucracy and you will need permission even to enter within 3-5 km off the border line. Moreover, the negotiations with Ukraine's border police can be very frustrating, because they don't usually speak English.
If you want to hike the Ukrainian part of the Pip Ivan, please fill in an appropriate form and send it, with a copy of your passport, to the following address:
Berlebashka and Petros summits
Issued to a citizen of ……………………(full name)
The objective of the trip into the border area is
Hiking is permitted from …hours to …hours
Passport number…………………Date of issue.........
IV.glacial cirque of Pop Ivan
Мукачивський прикордонний загин
вул. Недецей 45
The story of taking the permit to Pip Ivan is available here.
If you need help with translation, please PM LukZem
Fortunately, a good map of the area can be studied online, on the website of the Maramuresh Mountains Nature Park.
Misty Pop Ivan
Map of Ukraine's Maramoroskyi massif (1: 50 000) is available here