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Munții Carpați - The Retezat Mountains

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The Retezat Mountains
       A fascinating massif. Since 1935 it houses a National Park, with a scientific reservation. The Park has recently been listed under the biosphere Reserves, a world patrimony therefore, that calls for adequate protection.<

The Carpathians, issue no. 25
English version adapted by Bogdan Kory-Mercea (Cluj-Napoca)

       The massif rises up between two major depressions - Petroșani and Hațeg, and two large rivers - Râul Mare and Jiul de Vest. It is skirted by the Țarcu, Godeanu and Vâlcan Mountains.
       The main part of the massif, Retezatul Mare, consists mostly of crystalline rocks; the southern part, Retezatul Mic, contains important masses of limestone.
       The highest peak (2, 509 m) is Peleaga. A huge carp overlooks the Hațeg Depression.
       There are two main ridges, approximately SW-NE oriented, joined in their central part. The northern ridge starts from the Gura Apelor Lake and has the Peaks Zlata (2, 142 m), Șesele (2, 278), Judele (2, 334), Bucura (2, 433), Peleaga (2, 509), Păpușa (2, 508), Mare (2, 463), Lăncița (2, 066), Brădet (1, 861). The southern ridge, Iorgovanu (2, 014 m) - Piule (2, 080) - Drăcșanu (2, 081) is lower and has the Peaks Custura (2, 457), Gruniu (2, 294), Lazăru (2, 282), Tulișa (1, 792). The most characteristic peak in area, named Retezat like the massif itself, reaches 2, 482 m. The two main ridges extend northwards into some elongated, parallel and fairly long ridges, and shorter extensions southwards.
       The greatest part of the Retezat Massif is built from Danubian Autochthons crystalline formations. Two intrusive massive bodies (the Retezat and the Buta granodiorites) pierce the weakly metamorphosed crystalline schist layered in a syncline crossed longitudinally by the Lăpușnicul Mare and the Râul Bărbat Valleys. The Danubian Autochthonous sedimentary is formed of sandstones and especially of massive limestone characteristic of the Piule - Iorgovanu relief. East of the Râul Bărbat and Pilugu Valleys, rise the Tulișa Mountains, a part of Retezat Mountains, themselves with a dominant sedimentary structure.
       Leveled surfaces in the Retezat are less outstanding than in the mountains surrounding it. Some surfaces and plateaus slightly wavy, occur at heights of 2, 000-2, 100 m, in the Zlata, Zănoaga, Slăvei and Lăncița Mountains belong to the Borăscu modeling cycle. Remnants of the Râul Șes leveled surface are noticeable on the northern side of the Retezat and inside the big drainage belonging to the Râul Șes, Râul Mare and Lăpușnicul Mare Rivers.
       But the widely varied and spectacular landforms are the outcome of the glacial and periglacial modeling cycles: huge cirques, simple or complex; valleys indicating the presence of fairly long glaciers; lakes sheltered in the bosom of rocks; big masses of scree; sharp-edged or residual rocks. The largest and also the deepest glacial lakes in Romania are to be found here: Bucura (10 ha) and Zănoaga (29 m), respectively. Some of the magnificent waterfalls are Lolaia, Ciumfu, Rovine.
       The forest covered slopes hide a wealth of fossil screes, while the juniper carpet unfolds on the highest ridges. Several plant species are protected: the yellow poppy, the crosswort, the yellow lily etc. Higher crests and sharp ridges are usually barren. The chamois, the mountain cock, the bear and the mountain rat represent the animal world.
       Tourist tracks (marked out) in the National Park may be used provided the protected area regulations are observed. The tracks included in the scientific Reserve are closed to tourists, but from the higher crests all its beauties unfold before your eyes. Being a strictly protected area we may hope that its important elements for planetary biodiversity could be saved.
       The climate of Retezat is rough and moist. The massive lies in the way of the western and south-western advections. At over 2, 000 m altitude the temperature averages -2 -4 șC, rising to 2-4 șC towards 1, 400-1, 500 m. In the warmest month of the year, July, the mean air temperature is around 6 șC on the highest summits and 8-10 șC from the upper forest belt downwards to the mountain foot. In the coldest month, January, there are -10 șC at over 2, 000 m altitude, and -8 -6 șC from the upper forest belt downwards. However, extreme values range between over 20 șC on the highest crests in summer (e.g. in the year 2000) and under -25 -30 șC in January and February.
       Precipitations, both rain and snowfalls are quite abundant, with annual averages of 1, 400 mm on the highest crests and 1, 000-1, 200 mm towards the mountain foot. As a rule, June and July are the rainiest months with September and October, when rain is little, being best suited to trips and photographing. Not much snow in February, but quite significant in March and lately in April, too, often triggering avalanches.
       The type and intensity of precipitations it also an important element for mountaineering. Summer rains are usually torrential, frequently associated with thunder lightings. One should leave the crest and take shelter in the forest area or on the protected slopes before showers, lightenings and thunderbolts start.
       In wintertime (but also in spring or autumn) one runs the risk of being overtaken by heavy snowstorms and high winds. In summertime, sometimes is hail. In the transition seasons you may encounter sleet.
       The snow layer, usually by metric dimensions, lasts some 5-6 months / year, depending on altitude. In sheltered places, or negative shapes of landscape it may reach up to 3-4 m, while in wind beaten zones there is little, if any snow at all and the bare rock crops up.
       A very dangerous situation is the produce of ice. Moving on ice covered soil calls for particular attention and corresponding equipment. The massive ice layer lasts for some 240 days.

Access routes
       The electric railway Târgu Jiu - Petroșani - Simeria from the stations Pui, Râușor, Băești, Ohaba de sub Piatră and Subcetate. From Petroșani Depression access on Petroșani - Lupeni railway.
       The highway Târgu Jiu - Petroșani - Hațeg - Simeria - Deva; from Livezeni there is the ramification towards Jiul de Vest Valley passing through Vulcan, Lupeni, Uricani; from Hațeg there is highway to Caransebeș, access towards the northern part of the massif.
       Major seconding roads, asphalted or macadamized, heading close to or inside the Retezat Mountains:
- Ohaba de sub Piatră - Nucșoara - Cârnic (asphalted up to Nucșoara), 19 km. Permit to access to Cascada (Cârnic), Pietrele and Gențiana chalets.
- Sântămăria Orlea - Râu de Mori (asphalted), farther on (not asphalted) along the Râușor Valley up to Râușor tourist resort, 24 km.
- Cârnești (11 km from Hațeg to Caransebeș) - Clopotiva - Gura Zlata chalet - Gura Apelor dam (asphalted) and farther on the forest road to Rotunda, 42 km.
- Pui - Hobița (5 km) and farther on the forest road to Baleia chalet (16 km).
- Uricani - Câmpu lui Neag (asphalted) and farther on the forest road to Cheile Butei and Buta chalets.
       As important are the forest roads in the Valleys of Râul Bărbat, Nucșoara, Râul Alb, Sălaș, Valea de Brazi, Bilug, Ursoaia.

Access localities
       Hațeg town, 350 m altitude, situated in the homonymous depression skirted by the Șureanu, Retezat and Poiana Ruscă Mountains.
       Clopotiva commune, 500 m altitude. Access in the Râul Mare Valley to Gura Zlata chalet, Tomeasa workers' colony, Gura Apelor dam and farther on, passing the former Rotunda chalet, up to Lunca Berhina (floodplain) and Poiana Pelegii (glade).
       Râu de Mori, commune at 500 m altitude. The road runs upstream the Râușor Valley to Râușor resort (passing through Suseni and the stronghold and church of Colț), 12 km.
       Brazi, locality at the foot of the massif; a departure to Gura Zlata chalet along the Râul Mare Valley. After 3 km walk, there is a junction (in Râu de Mori commune) with the road to Râușor.
       Sântămăria Orlea commune, documented in the year 1363, stands on the Petroșani - Hațeg national highway. Here from a vehicle road (not asphalted) runs to Râu de Mori and farther on to Râușor (ski tracks).
       Sarmisegetuza (555 m), commune on the Hațeg - Caransebeș road, 4 km away from Clopotiva. There are the ruins of the city Ulpia Traiana Sarmisegetuza. Accommodation in a tourist inn.
       Ohaba de sub Piatră (400 m altitude), lies in the Strei Valley, at its junction with the Sălașul Brook. From here leads the path sign to Cascada (Cârnic), Pietrele and Gențiana chalets.
       Nucșoara (600-700 m), large commune in the Nucșoara Valley, the main gateway to the Retezat Massif. On the way to the mountain you may visit several churches, monuments of architecture and the ruins of a 14th-15th cc stronghold located in Mălăiești village.
       Pui (415 m altitude), large commune on the Petroșani - Hațeg road, point of departure for Baleia chalet through the Râu Bărbat and Hobița (550 m) villages.
       Petroșani (650 m), town in the homonymous depression, point of departure for Lupeni, Uricani and Câmpu lui Neag, wherefrom paths sign marked or not reach the Retezatul Mare or Tulișa Mountains (the sedimentary compartment of the Retezat Massif).

       Pietrele chalet (1, 480 m altitude), in a coniferous forest of the Stânișoara Valley. 150 seats stand in two buildings and in small wooden houses. No running water, generator for electric light. Buffet. Camping site. Forest range.
       Gențiana chalet (1, 670 m), 30 - 70 seats, in the Pietrele Valley. No running water, no electricity. Tried tourists will get only tea.
       Cascada chalet (980 m), located in Cârnic area, 35 seats. Meals. Running water, electricity. Safe place for tourists who spend a few days up in the mountain to leave their cars.
       Gura Zlata chalet (775 m). Running water, electricity, restaurant. It lies on a terrace overlooking the Mare River. Accommodation available also in small wooden houses; camping site.
       Buta chalet (1, 580 m), nearly the forest belt. Buffet. No running water, no electricity.
       Baleia chalet (1, 410 m), situated in the homonymous glade. Buffet. No running water, no electricity. Camping site. The glade shelters also an update forest range.
       Râușor small resort (1, 200 m). Hotel with 30 seats, restaurant. Ski track, ski installation.
       Câmpușel hunting house (in the Jiul de Vest Valley), access from Câmpu lui Neag.
       Cheile Butei chalet (900 m), good tourist comfort. Restaurant, running water, electricity, swimming-pool. 28 seats.
       Forest ranges, hunting houses, the Romanian Academy's houses at Gura Zlata, the camps for children at Brăduleț, stopovers at Tomeasa workers' colony are available by consent from the administration.
       Before reaching Gura Zlata chalet there is Dumbrăvița chalet: accommodation in good conditions, running water, electricity, restaurant.
       Tents-pitching sites: Poiana Pelegii (glade), Pietrele chalet, Râușor, Buta chalet, Câmpușel, Poiana stânei din Râu (glade), Bucura Lake, Zănoaga Lake, Gura Zlata chalet, Poiana Baleia (glade), area of the former Rotunda chalet, Lunca Berhina (floodplain), glades, glacial cirques, widened valleys, hay-fields etc.
Only in difficult situations you may look for help at Gemenele laboratory house located in the scientific Reserve.
       In case of limit situations you will find a temporary shelter at the sheepfolds.
       Unless you have adequate equipment and experience it is better to avoid winter walks.

Access to chalets
       To Pietrele chalet, 6 km forest road from Nucșoara to Cascada (Cârnic) chalet, then the blue stripe path sign (1 ½ hours from Cârnic). At 5 km from Cârnic branches out the blue triangle path sign to Gențiana chalet.
       To Buta chalet, the road (not upgraded) heading to Câmpu lui Neag settlement towards Cheile Butei (gorges) and farther along the Mării and Buta Valleys. In the vicinity of Cheile Butei chalet the path sign to Buta chalet is the red cross, 4 - 5 hours walk.
       Towards Baleia chalet, the forest road to Hobița on Dealul Șerel (hill), 16 km, old path sign a blue triangle; or start from Hobița on the blue triangle path sign which at Șaua Șerel (saddle) joins the forest road and only occasionally intersects its course. 5 - 5 ½ hours walk on the road, 4 - 4 ½ hours on the path.
       Towards Gura Zlata chalet there is from Clopotiva a 17, 5 km long asphalted road. At 7 km from the chalet stands Tomeasa workers' colony and 2, 5 km farther on is the Gura Apelor dam (updated roads). 5 - 6 hours walk to Gura Zlata chalet, another 1 - 1 ½ hours to Tomeasa colony and ¾ hours to the dam. Here from, there is a 9 km forester road to the former Rotunda chalet, presently a Romanian Academy's check point for the National Park. Higher up, the forest road which used to reach Poiana Pelegii (glade) (15 km) was destroyed by the Lăpușnicul Mare river waters.
       Câmpușel hunting house is a point of departure for the Retezatul Mic summits on the forest road (partially destroyed by waters) along the Jiul de Vest Valley (15 km from Câmpu lui Neag).
       To arrive to Râușor small resort take the forest road climb up from Râu de Mori settlement, along the Râușor Valley, besides Colț stronghold, 12 km (4 - 4 ½ hours walk).

From chalets to summits
       From Pietrele chalet:
- blue stripe (Pietrele - Gențiana chalet - Lacul Pietrele (lake) - Șaua Bucura (saddle) - Lacul Bucura (lake) - Poiana Pelegii (glade)), 5 - 5 ½ hours;
- red triangle (Pietrele - Lacul Galeșu (lake)), ¾ hours;
- yellow triangle (Pietrele - Tăurile din Valea Rea (lakes)), 3 - 4 hours;
- blue triangle (Pietrele - Lacul Stânișoara (lake) - Șaua Retezat (saddle) - Vf. Retezat (peak)), 3 ½ - 4 hours;
- yellow stripe (Pietrele - Culmea Lolaia (ridge) - Vf. Retezat (peak)), 4 hours;
- red point (Galeș path - Tăul dintre brazi (lake) - Valea Galeș (valley)), 1 - 1 ¼ hours.

       From Baleia chalet:
- red stripe (Baleia - Muntele Cozma (mountain) - Șaua Gorovii (saddle) - Culmea Lăncița (ridge) - Șaua Vf. Mare (saddle)), 4 ½ - 5 hours; old path sign;
- blue triangle (Baleia - Muntele Cozma (mountain) - Șaua Gorovii (saddle) - stânele din Râu (sheepfolds) - Ciumfu Waterfalls - Șaua Custura (saddle) - Șaua Plaiul Mic (saddle)), 7 ½ - 8 ½ hours, old path sign;
- red triangle (Baleia - Muntele Cozma - Șaua Gorovii (saddle) - Culmea Lăncița (ridge) - Șaua Vf. Mare (saddle) - Lacul Galeș (lake)), 5 ½ - 6 hours, very old path sign up to the main ridge.

From Buta chalet: red cross (Buta - Șaua Plaiul Mic (saddle) - Poiana Pelegii (glade)), 1 ¾ - 2 hours.
       From Gura Zlata chalet: red triangle (Gura Zlata - Valea Zlata (valley) - Valea Radeșul Mare (Aradeș) - Cioaca Porumbelului (peak) - Platoul Aradeș - Zlata - Lacul Zănoaga Mare (lake) - Valea Zănoaga - Crucea Trăznitului - La Clince - Coada Slăveiului (mountain) - Lacul Ana (lake) - Lacul Bucura), 8 hours.

On ridges
       From Gura Apelor dam, can climb on the path with blue cross: the road around Gura Apelor Lake - Muntele Zlata (mountain) - Vf. Zlata (peak) - Lacul Zănoaga Mare (lake) - Valea Zănoaga (valley) - Crucea Trăznitului - La Clince - Coada Slăveiului - Lacul Ana - Lacul Bucura (lake), 7 ½ - 8 hours, old path sign.
       From the road Gura Apelor dam - Rotunda - Gura Bucurei (Poiana Pelegii) (glade), blue point path sign, may follow the yellow path sign: the road on Valea Lăpușnicul Mare (valley), 10, 5 km from Rotunda towards Valea Berhina (valley) - Cracul Slăvei - Crucea Trăznitului - La Clince - Muntele Slăvei (mountain) - Coada Slăveiului - Lacul Ana (lake) - Lacul Bucura, 8 - 9 hours, old path sign.
       The high ridge area Vf. Mare (peak) - Șaua Vf. Mare (saddle) - Vf. Peleaga - Șaua Bucura (saddle) - Vf. Bucura II - Vf. Bucura I - Șaua Retezatului (saddle) has red stripe. Because the difficulties, the segment of ridge who includes Porțile Închise, Spălătura Păpușii, Vf. Păpușa Mare (peak), Șaua Pelegii (saddle) is recommended only to experimented tourists and to alpinists; the red path sign comes down from Șaua Vf. Mare (saddle) towards Lacul Galeșul (Zănoagele Galeșului) (lake) and after through Valea Rea (valley) climbs in Șaua Pelegii (saddle) (2 ½ - 3 hours).
       A similar recommendation goes for the segment of ridge Vf. Păpușa Mare (peak) - Spintecătura Păpușii - Vf. Păpușa Mică - Șaua Custurii (saddle), formerly marked out with a red stripe sign and sporadically with a yellow cross. After Vf. Custura (peak), the red stripe was leading eastwards, on the ridge towered by the Mării, Ciumfu Mare, Gruniu, Lazărul and Bilugu Mare Peaks, towards Curmătura Tulișa (saddle); very old path sign.
       From Lacul Bucura (lake), a yellow cross path sign passes to Salvamont (mountain rescue) shelter, climbing through Căldarea Berbecilor (glacial cirque) to Vf. Peleaga (peak) in 2 ½ hours. Also from Lacul Bucura (lake) climbs the red point path sign: Tăul Porții (lake) - Lacul Agățat (lake) - Vf. Judele Mic (peak) - Vf. Judele Mare - Șaua Bârlea (saddle) - Muntele Bârlea (mountain) - Muntele Șesele Mari - Lacul Zănoaga Mare (lake), 5 ½ hours. Also, the yellow stripe path sign climbs in Șaua de iarnă a Retezatului (winter saddle) joining the red stripe: 2 - 2 ½ hours.
       From Râușor to the high area:
- red triangle (Râușor - forester road Râușor - Lunca Valereasca (floodplain) - stâna Valereasca (sheepfold) - Șaua Muncel (saddle) - Vf. Retezat (peak)), 5 - 6 ore, old path sign;
- red point (Râușor - the ski track - Vf. La Toacă (peak) - Pârâul Toaca (brook) - Condorul shelter - Lacul Ștevia (lake)), 3 hours, very old path sign; possibility to arrive in Șaua Lolaia (saddle) and after to descend in Valea Stânișoara (valley), to Borduleț;
- blue cross (Râușor - Culmea Lolaia (ridge) - Șaua Ciurila (saddle) - Valea Stânișoara (valley) - Pietrele chalet), 3 - 4 hours, old incomplete path sign.

       The path Lacul Bucura (lake) - Poiana Peleaga (glade) is marked also with red cross, signs towards Șaua Plaiul Mic (saddle) who after descend to Buta chalet.
       From Șaua Plaiul Mic (saddle) the signs red stripe go to Piatra Iorgovanului (peak), Curmătura Soarbele (saddle) and after to Băile Herculane (spa).
       From stâna din Râu (sheepfold), the red point, without a white background, go to Tăul Țapului (lake), in 1 ½ hours.
Autor: Dănuț Călin
Înscris de: Cătălin Olteanu
Vizualizări: 26279, Ultima actualizare: Vineri, 5 Sep 2003

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