The northern ridge of Piatra Craiului is one of the areas that make this mountain charming. Anyone who has been there knows that it's just captivating.
Today, the plan is to hike as much of the ridge as we can, and then return to the tents.
We start, therefore, without big backpacks: only enough water, food and raincoats.
Here is the whole route, divided by days, with links to the stories of the other two:
- Ascent: Botorog's Fountain - Curmătura Hut (2h).
- Northern ridge: Curmătura Cabin - Țimbalul Mic Peak - Curmătura Cabin (8h 30m).
- Descent: Curmătura Cabin - Zărnești Gorge - Botorog's Fountain (2h).
But before moving on to the details and the story of the route, we invite you to listen to the Anthem of Piatra Craiului. In the second verse there are mentioned many of the places we will manage to see today:
From Curmătura Cabin we start on the route marked with red dot towards Crăpaturii Saddle, where we turn left towards Turnu Peak.
Then we continue on the ridge, over the peaks of Padina Popii, Ascuțit, Țimbalul Mare, up to the peak of Țimbalul Mic.
Parking: see day 1
Route: Curmătura Cabin (1460m) - Crăpăturii Saddle (1620m)
Turnu Peak (1923m) - Padina Popii Peak (2018m) - Ascuțit Peak (2150m)
Țimbalul Mic Peak - Ascuțit Peak (2150m) - Curmătura Cabin (1460m)
- red dot: Curmătura Cabin - Țimbalul Mic Peak - Ascuțit Peak
- blue triangle: Ascuțit Peak - Curmătura Cabin
Height Difference: +/- 950m
Duration: 8h 40m, breaks included
|Curmătura Cabin - Crăpăturii Saddle
|Crăpăturii Saddle - Turnu Peak
|Turnu Peak - Padina Popii Saddle
|Padina Popii Saddle - Ascuțit Peak
|Ascuțit Peak - Țimbalul Mic Peak
|Țimbalul Mic Peak - Ascuțit Peak
|Ascuțit Peak - Curmătura Cabin
|- Curmătura Cabin
|Campare: Curmătura Cabin (see day 1)
* Our time, without backpacks and in good weather. The time may vary depending on backpacks, weather conditions and physical condition.
It was a very windy night. Although it scared us more when it roared menacingly through the forest than when it shook our tent, it was enough to wake us up several times, with small spikes of adrenaline.
No matter how much we slept, around six we wake up and start preparing. The weather is forecast to be good for the first part of the day, and we want to take full advantage of it.
We are taking a long time with the preparation. We were too lazy to prepare the stuff last night. Now, sleepy and grumpy, we need to repeatedly go back to the camping to bring something from the backpacks.
Finally, at 7:20 a.m. we set off and start climbing towards Crăpăturii Saddle, on the route marked with red dot.
It's a good enough climb to wake us up.
But we don't even get to wake up very well, and we already arrive. At 7:45 we are in the Crăpăturii Saddle.
We walk further through the coolness of the morning, and through forest and raspberries, for another twenty minutes, until the climb to Turnu Peak begins.
Here the fun begins: climbing that requires chains!
We climb, and behind us, the peak of Piatra Mică keeps getting smaller.
Last time I was around, we had some big, heavy backpacks. Big mistake. Without heavy backpacks, climbing the chains is a breeze.
We are nearing the top and the climb is slowing down. Instead, we are greeted by many, many junipers.
We reached the main ridge. From place to place, views to the other side open up, and we can admire the town of Zărnești, and further on the mountains around Brașov: Măgura Codlea, Postăvarul, Piatra Mică and others.
At nine o'clock we are on Turnu Peak. It's time for a frugal breakfast. But a breakfast with a view!
From here the route goes sometimes on the top of the ridge, sometimes on one of the two slopes. Sometimes through the forest, sometimes among junipers, and sometimes on the edge of the precipice.
At 9:45 we are in Padina Popii Saddle, from where we will swim through the sea of junipers to the peak with the same name.
After Padina Popii Peak we continue to gain altitude, and we slowly leave the junipers behind.
We don't have to go much further, and the show of rocks and cliffs begins.
In the distance, the ridge is shrouded in mist. But all around us, up to the Ascuțit Peak, the air is clear, and the light is perfect for admiring.
There are still chains here and there. The route continues to be exciting.
A little before 11 o'clock we reach the summit. Since we woke up at 6 o'clock, we decide it's a good time to have lunch here and now.
If we rushed the breakfast snack, at lunch we sit down to eat in peace. We take about an hour for lunch, and enjoy the show presented to us by clouds and mist.
There is another signpost here. The estimates are probably made for hikers with heavy backpacks.
We go towards La Om Peak, and we intend to go for about 1 hour, then return. We would like to get there, but we would like even more not to get caught on the ridge by the rain that is expected in the afternoon.
The route is a delight. Mist and clouds have joined the spectacle of the rocks and cliffs. It's fantastic!
The eastern slope is covered with fog and clouds. The western one is preserved clear by the strong winds.
After about an hour from Vârful Ascuțit we reach Țimbalul Mic, and we decide that we will return.
But it's so tempting to go forward!
We feel like we would stay here forever, but we have to return. So we start back towards Ascuțit Peak.
From Ascuțit Peak we follow the route marked with blue triangle, which leads to the Curmătura Cabin. The estimate is 2h, up to 2h 30m.
Initially the descent is beautiful, but soon it becomes steep, and the path becomes more and more stony. It's a tiring descent, but we motivate ourselves with the scenery.
After an hour long descending, sometimes on boulders, sometimes on gravel, we reach the forest. From here the descent is not that abrupt anymore, and we are grateful.
There is only one steep, short descent left, just before we get to the road leading to the cabin. And from the road we arrive in ten minutes.
It is 16:00 and we are at the Curmătura Cabin, the point of departure and arrival. Today's route - with breaks for meals and admiring - lasted 8h 40m.
But the day is not over. We wash up a bit, then bring the bottles and start cooking!
There are many access routes to the northern ridge of Piatra Craiului.
This time we chose the easiest of them: to camp at Curmătura Cabin and enjoy the route without big and heavy backpacks, without the need to carry plenty of water, and without being worried about not finding a place to sleep in the refuges, or camp near them.
On a day with no chance of rain, the route can be extended, going all the way to the La Om Peak. With small backpacks it would be about two, maybe three hours more. But that's for another time.
Have you been in Piatra Craiului? What trails did you hike? Which part of the ridge do you like best?
'Till next time!