Winter in March
What's left to do when you want to go mountain climbing and March only offers you cloudy days with wind accompanied by rain and snow ?
For my friends, staying in the city is out of the question, for sure ! When they've heard that the weather forecast was disappointing, they thought that man makes his own luck, so naturally started heading for the Apuseni Mountains determined to reach the peak: Vlădeasa. More specifically, they've planned the following route: Rogojel village - Vlădeasa chalet - Vlădeasa peak (1836m) and the Meteorological chalet.
Let me start from the beginning.
One day I received a message from a friend with the title: A small escapade with friends.
He described in great detail the route made a few days ago to Vladeasa peak, along with a lot of magnificent pictures that automatically carried my thought to the wonderful nature from mountain peaks during winter time. My imagination started flying, seeing the winter dressing up mountains with the most beautiful clothes of the year. The white landscapes, untouched, call you to explore and create your own path through the fluffy snow. The high crests, ice-covered and often surrounded by clouds, urge you to reach the sunny peaks.
I will attach a part of Mihai's message, which takes care of filling our imagination every time with different stories from his escapades:
This winter time trip to Vladeasa Massif was already thought of, by me and also by my friends, but because of our daily activities we've been postponing it for a number of years, we've crossed the mountain trail 5-7 years ago but all in summer time, so we wanted a change and we wanted to go out to the mountains during the winter, especially at the end of winter, because then the snow layer is bigger.
We made the decision to go on 1 March because it was a time of somewhat sunny weather at high altitude and fog on the bottom, we realized we were going to get dreamlike landscapes, but it was also somewhat risky from a weather point of view as the weather in the mountains changes very quick.
What made us go to the Vladeasa Massif?
The fact that it is a mountain with a fantastic potential, from here having a wonderful view of all the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania, and on sunny days you can seen the mountain areas of Ukraine.
Another advantage was that it is a mountain with a low avalanche risk, it can only occur in one area: over the Pietrele Albe (white stones), but I avoided that route, and I want to tell you frankly that it was a fantastic trip with dreamy landscapes, the weather was on our side, and we escaped over the clouds and fog.
It was also tiring, a 16 km round trip from where we left the car to the top, it was our first winter experience in the mountains and I want to tell you that I just climbed in summer on the peaks and the highest in the Carpathian Mountains (examples: Omu Peak 2505 or Ceahlau Toaca 1907 Peak), this was the most beautiful, and I took many pictures to share with you, maybe someday you will come to know this Peak and his beauties.
We will gladly go back on this mountain in the upcoming summer to experience it during the summer time.
- Here's the road sign at about 750 m, before climbing to the village of Rogojel, which is located at the foot of the Vladeasa mountain.
- After arriving in Rogojel, they've entered a dense haze, reaching up to 1000 m where they had to leave their car and walk on foot because of the snowy road.
- The higher they climbed, the more they became the prisoners of a white world without contour. The orientation became difficult, the markings being rare and shrouded in the fog. The mist was denser, still in the Rogojel village at 1100 m.
- Meanwhile, they've reached the 1200 m height and through the dense fog they left the village of Rogojel on route to the Vladeasa chalet. Under the thick layer of clouds, in the silent forest, enjoying the lack of any wind and encouraging themselves by repeating that weather is like the man's soul.
- At 1300 meters, the first rays of the sun were visible, leaving the fog slightly behind.
- Slowly climbing to the Vladeasa cottage at 1400 m elevation, among the fir trees, on the shady forest road with resin smell. In the cool of winter floats the fine fragrance of the coniferous trees. In deafness is heard the music of nature hummed by the wind that caress the forest ridge. The sun was shining, and the layer of snow was growing before your eyes, starting to measuring about 30 cm.
- At 1350 m the snow layer reached 35 cm, where the hot sun rays continue to caress wet and windy firs.
- At the altitude of 1350 m the landscapes were dreamy, so they've started walking slower, having their heart flooded with beauty, often stopping to immortalize the landscape.
- At a height of 1,400 meters, and below is the ceiling of clouds, which caused the fog from the previous pictures, it is sensational to be above the clouds, said Mihai. The huge clouds that covered them began to split before their eyes, gradually revealing a charming landscape. As they escaped from the cloud veils, the sun was flooding, with the warm light of the afternoon, the quiet peaks. The white masters of the sky slid through the valleys, gathering in a humid, diaphanous sea. They where about to sink into it soon, on the path that went back down to the forest. They were walking slowly through the mountains, letting them enter into their hearts unforgettable moments and images from which, sometime, they will create their dreams. The photos above the clouds, beautiful and spectacular. They create some of the most exciting views for me because they are wrapped in the mysterious puddle of the clouds, that a few sun rays managed to pierce.
- Continuing their journey, they slowly approach Vladeasa Chalet at 1450 m and the temperature decreases every hundred meters, despite the fact that they have left the fog and it was sunny, the temperature was -8 ° C and 35 cm of snow. That is the moment when the sun rays, in full daylight, have the power to heat not only the body of man, but also his heart.
- Coming to Vlădeasa Chalet from 1450 meters the snow layer is 40 cm.
- Image taken at Vladeasa Chalet, looking down as they climb to the low clouds and fog approaching, climbing behind them.
- Finally, for a short time, the fog arrived.
- They arrived at Chalet Salvamont Vladeasa at 1500 m height, climbing above the mist.
- After crossing the Salvamont Chalet, they continued their journey to the crest and peak on a gorgeous weather, although it was -10 ° C, they came back with tan on their faces.
- When weather conditions are favorable here you can often see a sea of clouds. A unique landscape above the clouds, where the snow was almost frozen and measuring 15 cm.
- The forest before the upper plateau that is somewhere at 1600 m, temperature was -11 ° C and the snow layer 40 - 50 cm.
- Arriving somewhere at 1700 m on the plateau, from here the climb to the top is not steep at all, the snow was scattered and the wind accentuated the feeling of cold.
- A specific aspect of the Vlădeasa Mountain ridge is the solitary firs in the crest loaded with snow. Due to the strong winds that blow here the trees get very interesting shapes.
- In the winter, everyone is at home resting and the mountain is yours. All.
The trails are less crowded
And some of the tours full of tourists during the summer are, in winter, utterly deserted.
- Fun at 1750 m.
The bears hibernate.
If the possibility of meeting a bear causes anxiety, you can walk peacefully on the paths. The bears sleep well.
- Snowflake is between 50-100 cm in these peaks and the landscape is hibernating. In the distance they see the clouds that are below them and cause ugly weather down there in the cities and communes of the example area (Cluj Napoca, Zalau, etc.)
- They've almost reached the peak of Vladeasa and with every meter climbed, the landscape is magnificent.
- The favorite photo of the adventurers on this trip is the one below, 30 meters before reaching the peak, the snow measures between 60-100 cm.
- Magnificent landscape.
- Large snow accumulations around the fir trees due to the strong blizzard.
- Another 10 m to the top, here the wind is quite strong and the temperature -13 degrees Celsius.
- Snow dunes :D
- The peak of 1836 m. When you make a break and rest, you understand what quietness means, the kind of silence that seems to clog your ears.
- Vladeasa Peak 1836 m, above clouds, -14 degrees Celsius. Indeed, it is a wonderful place, unique, hard to describe in words, for the wonderful wonders it offers to delight both the eyes and the heart of any tourist.
- Weather Station Vladeasa 1836 m, almost frozen landscape, here are 2 meteorologists that work in shifts.
- The building of the Vladeasa meteorological station 1836 m, everything is frozen, full of snow.
- Snow covers everything. And the paths that you swim through because of the mud in autumn are white and clean, just perfect for a bleach advertisement. However, during winter is easier to get lost on the mountain than in other seasons, as many landmarks are covered with snow.
- The surprise of the day was that they encountered a playful kitty that spends its time with meteorologists at this peak.
- Snow piles in the yard of the weather station.
- They also made time for a little play with the cute animal.
- A frozen world and a hibernating landscape at 1836 m, Vladeasa Peak.
Southeast of the Vladeasa peak - Pietrele Albe (white stones)
Pietrele Albe is a limestone complex located in the southeast of the Vlădeasa Massif, on the left side of the Seci Valley. Within them there are a lot of caves, avenues and vertical walls, being one of the most populated places for rock climbers.
Here's how they look during the summer time.
From another angle.
Valul Miresei (bride's vail) waterfall
From the granite peaks of Vladeasa, under the white limestone pyramids of Pietrele Albe, a few crystalline streams descend to the valley that unite their power with anger, giving birth to the most beautiful waterfall in the Apuseni Mountains: Valul Miresei waterfall.
An old legend reminds us that the name of the cascade comes from the fact that a bride had long since fallen from the steep cliffs of the area where the waterfall was, and her veil was hanging on the cliffs. There, the wedding guests stopped and began to cry, forming a cascade. In fact, the name could be attributed to the shape of a cascade that resembles a veil.
This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Romania. This waterfall is extremely spectacular and due to the fact that the water has a fall of about 30 m and two steps, it is at a height of about 1000 m. At the base of the top step there is a deep hollow in the rock with a diameter of 10 m, which provides a water dispersion that resembles a veil.
There is a massive rocky wall around the waterfall. In winter, the rocky wall freezes, being a great ice climbing spot for those passionate about this sport.
A big thanks to my friend Mihai for sharing his pictures and descriptions with me and giving his consent to write this article.
I hope you enjoyed this journey with me (be it only imaginary) and of course thank you, the reader, for reading <3