Scrambling In Romania

Bâlea Lake, in the Făgăraş Mountains

I've traveled to Romania many times. My visits were mostly for business, and a few of those visits were prior to the overthrow of Communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu. Saying those visits were devoid of anything entertaining is an understatement.

 

My most recent trip to Romania included a visit to Bâlea Lake, also spelled Lacul Bâlea or Bâlea Lac, and pronounced ˈbɨle̯a, with the intention of doing a little sightseeing and scrambling. Bâlea Lake is a glacier lake situated at 2,034 m altitude in the Făgăraş Mountains, which are in central Romania, in Sibiu County. There are two chalets opened all the year round, a meteorological station, and a mountain rescue station. It is accessible by car on the Transfăgărăşan road during the summer, and the rest of the year by a cable car from the Bâlea Cascadă chalet.

 

 

The challenge

 

Above is the mountain I scrambled up from Balea Lake. It didn't look like much from the bottom looking up but half way up the slope was at an angle of 70+%.

 

Cresting a ridge

 

 

Above, a view looking up at the top ridge. I took a few moments at the top to reflect and rest up, then headed back down the other side. The pole sticking up is a trail marker, which I was told are used to give anyone making the ascent a point of reference to know where ridge lines were, and the most advisable route. This is probably true, since there were a lot of them in the mountains and as can be seen to the right of this one there is a well used trail. However, it does not seem to be a set rule that specific routes must be taken. I went straight up, as did others I met enroute, but it was admittedly a tough grind.

 

 

The photo above was taken by Alex Flora. The view is looking back down to Balea Lake from the top of the mountain. Although from above it looks like you are looking down into a volcano crater, the locals assured me it isn't. 

The road to the right of the photos is part of the Transfăgărășan road, or DN7C. Apparently more people have died driving up and down it to get to Balea Lac than ever have actually climbing up. In fact, just the construction of the road cost 40 soldiers their lives, and it's only 90 kilometers.

The building jutting out into the lake is where I had lunch. The lake is very clear, and as far as I could tell, totally devoid of fish because it is inaccessible. In fact, even plant life is scarce because few birds fly high enough to be depositing seeds through their droppings. The lake is spring fed apparently, and is the source of drinking water for the chalets and other buildings surrounding the lake.