The idea of one day reaching the highest mountain peak in Romania has followed me from my youth. I don’t know why, but in the hustle and bustle of daily life there was always something else that was more important and so I didn’t get around to climbing it.
However, this summer, after several postponements due to the rainy weather, I mustered up my courage and, keeping an eye on Weather.com, along with my good friends Misu and Dede, we decided to have a go at it. I knew from reading other articles on the internet that the shortest route to the peak is through Rea Valley, starting from Stana lui Brunei (Brunei’s Sheepfold).
From Bucharest to Răsărit de Soare Cottage
Given the length of the route and our plan to climb and descend on the same day, we decided to leave Bucharest one night before the climb, to sleep at a guesthouse somewhere and then, early in the morning, to start climbing.
No sooner said than done. We left Bucharest on a Tuesday, in the late afternoon hours, and thanks to booking.com we found a cottage where we were able to catch some sleep near the road towards Slatina, where we knew that the unpaved road leading to Stana lui Brunei begins.
The cottage we chose is called Rasarit de Soare (Sunrise) located in Galesu village and I must say that it is an excellent stopping place for those who want to undertake the climbing routes from Arges county to Fagaras, as it is located in an excellent position relative to the mountain trails.
Marius, the owner, welcomed us with a glass of plum brandy, hot soup and a steak, making our stay as pleasant as possible.
Here are some pictures from the cottage, for those planning to make a stop on their way.
The road to Stana lui Brunei
In the morning, we got up early and at around 6 o’clock we were already on our way.
Up to Slatina village, Arges, the road is paved and in good condition. It took us no more than 20 minutes to get here from the cottage, on the route: Uleni, Jgheaburi, Corbi, Sboghitesti, Slatina. However, from here to the end of the unpaved road that stops right in front of Stana lui Brunei, it took us another 2 full hours.
The unpaved road is quite rough on some portions and due to the intense logging work (to be honest, I don’t know how legal this is, judging by the grouchy looks of those we met in the heart of action), there are portions with deep holes or with scree which got pulled on the road because of the cut trunks. With a car that has reasonable ground clearance, you can reach the end of the road without too much trouble.
The road follows the valley of Doamnei River, past the accumulation dam at Văsălatu. From here, keeping on the left side, the road winds through the forest, ending with a car park right in front of Stana lui Brunei. When you arrive here, the view that presents itself before you is fabulous, the vertical wall of the mountain massif offering an unforgettable view.
Stana lui Brunei – Valea Rea Pit
The road begins right in front of the sheepfold, which is unfortunately abandoned, at an altitude of 1460 m. The trail climbs to the right side of the valley, at first lightly, passing a glade with high nettles (pay attention to your legs), then through the forest and the mountain hollow.
The tourist trail marking is a red triangle, and the path is made up of two climbing sections which are quite steep and physically demanding, as soon as you start climbing.
It is advisable to fill your cans with water before you leave because the brooks are quite difficult to reach on this portion of the trail. Only about halfway up the climb, the path intersects a brook that has to be crossed by jumping from one stone to another, and from which you can supply yourself with water.
The view, however, is fantastic! We had a day with clear sky and as you can see in the pictures, the landscape looks almost surreal.
The path is uphill, but the trail is quite safe and has no uncovered portions. It can be easily climbed by any person whose fitness is above average and with appropriate footwear. From the middle up, the path passes over stone and scree portions, which tend to be slippery, but with a little caution it can be climbed without any difficulties.
Up to Rea Valley Pit, the level difference is quite big. When approaching the waterfall, our altimeter measured an altitude of 2050 m, therefore reaching the top is a bit of a sweat. But the scenery is superb, and you can stop en route to see from up close the different waterfalls that flow along the path.
The climb to Rea Valley Pit takes about an hour, at a leisurely pace, with a few stops on the shady slopes. As soon as you reach the waterfall, you will see on the left the source of the beautiful waterfall that tumbles over a height of 30-40 meters. It is a small river, which winds down towards the exit of the Rea Valley waterfall base. We stopped there for a respite and to eat breakfast.
Valea Rea Pit – Triangular Iezer (Lake) – Portița Viștei saddle
The path goes on through the middle of the plateau formed between Galbena and Roșu (Red) Peak on the left and the edge of Rea Valley on the right. The slope is smooth, easy to undertake.
This is a trail segment that is sodden in places, therefore it is advisable to follow the path and look for good fording spots, in order not to get your feet wet.
On the mountainside on the right of the valley, there is a temporary sheepfold, where there are a few dogs, but you can tell that they are used to tourists and they have not caused us any problems.
The steepness of the climb gradually increases as we approach the pit of the Triangular Iezer. It is located on the left side of the valley going uphill and it’s a good camping spot for those who decide to set up their tent overnight in the pit.
The ascent then becomes steeper and steeper as we approach the saddle represented by Portita Vistei. The path becomes more rocky and the climb more demanding.
The climb from the pit entry up to Portita Vistei saddle (2310m) took us about 45 minutes. Once you are in the saddle, you must pay attention to the signs, because the marking changes.
To the right, from Portita Vistei saddle, the trail follows the ridge to the Vistea refuge, located in a saddle about 30 minutes away.
The climb to Moldoveanu peak, our destination, is however on the left side, and starts out unfailingly, towards Vistea Mare peak, marked by a red strip.
The trail segment crossing Rea Valley is not very demanding. Only in the final section does the climb become quite steep, but without it being dangerous.
You absolutely must supply yourself with water in the lower area of the pit, because from the Triangular Iezer upwards you will not find any source of water.
We rested for about 5-10 minutes in the saddle, then made a left on the trail marked by the red strip, towards Vistea Mare peak.
Portița Viștei saddle – Viștea Mare Peak – Moldoveanu Peak
The final section of the trail is a classic ridge path, consisting of two sections: Portita Vistei saddle – Vistea Mare Peak (2527m) and Vistea Mare Peak – Moldoveanu Peak (2544m).
On the first section, towards Vistea Mare, the ascent is steep and winds at first on grassy land, followed by a rocky section that requires a bit of effort to climb and attention to one’s steps. However, the path is not exposed, and is of low-hazard.
The path constantly follows the edge of Vistea Mare ridge, the rocks taking the place of the grassy land. It is recommended that you do not venture on this route without appropriate footwear and especially without some prior rock climbing training.
The climb from Portita Vistei saddle to Vistea Mare peak took us about 30 minutes.
On the way up to Vistea Mare the weather became a little more unstable and unfortunately we were surrounded by clouds. This kind of ruined our view of the landscape, therefore, after we quickly ticked Vistea Mare peak off on the list, we went on the ridge route to Moldoveanu Peak, our final destination.
So, on we went along the ridge path, towards Moldoveanu Peak, now marked by a red circle, which is almost horizontal in this section.
On a section of 5-6 meters, the path is, however, exposed on both sides! Therefore, more attention and a good balance are required when crossing it. This section is not recommended for the uninitiated.
The path climbs steadily, alternating between one side and the other of the mountain ridge. Some portions are quite steep and therefore not recommended for those with altitude sickness :).
A portion on a mountain step, just below Moldoveanu peak, is completely exposed, and is equipped with chains. However, it is not very long, fortunately. After passing the chains the trail stabilizes and it finally reaches the topometric terminal on Moldoveanu peak.
The section from Vistea Mare to Moldoveanu Peak also took us about 30 minutes. Therefore, we had a total climbing time of about 4 hours, including the inherent breaks.
From the summit, the view is splendid. We stayed for about 10-15 minutes to admire it and then went back following the same path.
Conclusions and recommendations
Unfortunately, for people our age, descending is always more difficult than climbing. As Vasile Alecsandri put it: “The way seems longer now on my return home…”.
Therefore, when we descended, following the same route, it took us almost as much as it did during the climb, that is about 3 and a half hours. The constant slopes, steep and rocky, have given our knees quite a hard time. However, we arrived safely at the sheepfold, where, after two harrowing hours on the unpaved road to Slatina, we went home, to Bucharest.
The route I have described is definitely the shortest way to reach Moldoveanu peak and it can be undertaken in a single day with good weather.
However, you must arrive very early at the entrance to Valea Rea. We went on the trail at 8:45 a.m., reached the peak at around 1:00 p.m. and descended back at 4:30 p.m. Otherwise you run the risk of climbing during the night. For such a situation, do not forget to pack a flashlight!
The best option is to sleep somewhere in the area and start climbing in the early hours of the morning, as we did.
This guarantees a full day of climbing and enough time for the descent. Keep in mind that it takes an additional 4 hours for a round-trip on the “road of bones”, from Slatina to Valea Rea!
And so I wish you all a nice trip and good weather!
Last modified: 11 October 2019