The paradisiac ridge

Written by Sebastian Sava // Photos by Igor Sirodoev, Catalin Crauciuc and Sebastian Sava


There is heaven on earth even if fragmented one. At least to my mind it does exist. Personally, I see the reflection of heaven in natural protected areas, unspoiled by human activity. In every national park a small piece of paradise is hidden. Maybe I’m a bit mystical but that’s how I get the image of paradise. In Romania I usually find it in the northern part of Eastern Carpathians, within the boundaries of Rodnei National Park, the second largest national park in Romania, covering an area of 472 square kilometers,located in Rodnei Mountains, the highest of all Eastern Carpathians.

Pietrosu Rodnei (2303 m) seen from Toroiaga ( Maramuresului Mountains)

Of all Eastern Carpathians, only these mountains bear the strong marks of the heavy quaternary glaciation: glacial cirques, U – shaped valley, glacial lakes and moraines. They are truly unique and the quintessence of this uniqueness could be found in Pietrosu Rodnei Biosphere Reserve (declared in 1979), a place where complexity is at its own right (of geology, geomorphology, biodiversity).

Experiencing winter here is something you’ll remember the whole life. I constantly do that. If the mountain welcomes you, then you’ll be treated with magical panoramas, massive seas of clouds, plenty of optical phenomenons like glory and Broken spectre and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets (check the other posts about Rodnei Mountains).

We got here following the path marked with blue sign that starts right after the hospital of Borsa city, initially on forest road, then, as we aproached the glacial cirque, on path. At the edge of the cirque there is a permanent weather station which provides some accommodation. From here onwards the route described bellow is not marked for the most part of it; just when we reach Curmatura Pietrosului saddle we see again the blue sign that comes from the bottom of the glacial cirque, zig zagging on the very steep slope of Pietrosu – this trail is not recommended in wintertime due to high risk of avalanches. Using crampons and ice axe is mandatory.


Camping place on a moraine at the bottom of the glacial cirque ( Iezerului cirque ). We felt with great intensity the embrace of the mountain and were overwhelmed by the grandeur of glacial landscape.

Rodnei Mountains. On the slopes of Piatra Alba

From our camping place we head towards east, to the right side of the cirque till we meet the slopes of Piatra Alba. At first is very steep but as we get higher and higher the slope eases.

The arête of Pietrosu seen from the slopes of Piatra Alba
Rodnei Mountains. Ascending on Piatra Alba (2061 m)
Rodnei Mountains. The east face of Pietrosu Rodnei ( 2303 m alt.) seen from Piatra Alba – Grohotu ridge

And here we are at a saddle on the Piatra Mare – Grohotu ridge. In this point we change direction  to the south till we put our feet on Grohotu peak.

The route up to Grohotu peak (2203 m)
The east face of Pietrosu Rodnei (2303 m alt.) seen from the slopes of Grohotu (2203 m).
Buhaescu Mare ( 2268 m alt.)



Buhaescu Mare (2268 m alt.) looms out of the mist

From Grohoru peak we change again direction, this time to the west and start the traverse of the beautiful sharp ridge – Custura Pietrosului (arête of Pietrosu).

Along the arête of Pietrosu, towards Pietrosu Rodnei (right)


Rodnei Mountains. The arête of Pietrosu
On the knife-like ridge of Pietrosu
Along the arête of Pietrosului, towards Pietrosu Rodnei (right)




Zanoaga Iezerului glacier cirque seen from Pietrosului arête

Take a look deep down into the abyss while crossing the arête of Pietrosu.


Curmatura Pietrosului. Pietrosului saddle

Looking into the depths of haze


Just few more steps to the top.

Rodnei Mountains. Ascending on the slopes of Pietrosu Rodnei (2303 m) with Grohotu peak (2203 m) in the background.
Rodnei Mountains. The abandoned meteorological station on Pietrosu Rodnei peak ( 2303 m)

Finally we are on the highest peak of The Eastern Carpathians: Pietrosu Rodnei. Like usual, we spend at least one hour on the peak. Then we start to descent back on the same track, at very low pace. Being at altitude it’s like a drug and that’s why I try to prolong the state by descending as slow as possible (if conditions allow).

The arête of Pietrosu. In the background Piatra Alba – Grohotu ridge.
Buhaescu Mare and Buhaescu Mic seen from Pietrosu Rodnei ( 2303 m alt.)
Buhaescu Mare and Buhaescu Mic, separated by a very small saddle
Piatra Alba (2061 m alt., left) and Grohotu (2203 m alt., right) seen from Pietrosu Rodnei ( 2303 m )
Rodnei Mountains. Curmatura Pietrosului saddle
21415862791_3454259466_o (1)
Ghosts of snow
Ineu peak (2279 m alt. – right) and Gargalau peak (2158 m alt. – left) seen from Grohotu (2203 m)


In the deep snow on Grohotu peak, admiring the highest peaks of the main ridge of Rodnei Mountains: Puzdrele (2188 m – left), Gargalau (2158 m) and Ineu (2279 m) surrounded by the huge sea of clouds.

Encircled by mist


Piatra Alba touched by the last ray of light
Pietrosu Rodnei at dusk
The east face of Pietrosu Rodnei seen from Piatra Alba

In the fading light we go down to our tents.

As a conclusion, watch this short video edited by my friend Catalin Crauciuc: