Cheia Rea Canyon is located in the Apuseni Natural Park.
The canyon has 14 pitches and a 285m elevation difference. Cheia Rea valley is one of the tributaries of the upstream sector of Sighiștelului valley. This canyon is characterized by its lack of running water, the canyon being dry most of the year.
If you want to find wet conditions in the canyon, you should go there in spring during the snow melting period.
from Sighistelului Valley> Ștei town >Câmpani> Sighiștel village>follow the Sighiștelului Valley route (marked with blue triangle signs) up to the junction with the Calea Fusului (Spindle Path) forest road >continue on the forest road until reaching the GPS coordinates N46 31.525 E22 37.182 where you will find the entrance to the Cheia Rea canyon.
If you choose this access route, you should allow about 2.5-3.0 hours to get to the entrance of the canyon.
from Stei to the Vârtop holiday village: Ștei > Câmpani > Băița > national road DN75 (km 25+100) > junction with the Drumul Fusului (Spindle Path) forest road> continue on the forest road (for ~ 10km) until reaching the GPS coordinates N46 31.525 E22 37.182 where you will find the entrance to the Cheia Rea canyon.
When to go: if you want to go though the canyon while there is water flowing through it, we recommend going in March or April.
Between May and November, the canyon is usually dry. In this period, you will find water in the canyon only during flashfloods. Also, during summer you won’t need a neoprene suit for this route, some warm outdoor cloths should be enough.
General info: the Cheia Rea canyon was formed on a valley bearing the same name. The deepening of Beiuș basin and the rise of the mountains around it meant the elevation difference between the mountains and the valley increased. Due to these geologic factors, the water started flowing rapidly and it digged into the valley floor very fast, without having time to also dig into the sides. Thus was formed a deep, but narrow canyon.
Group gear>at least 3 screwgate carabiners + 30m rope + 15m rope to be used on the shorter pitches or for setting up fixed lines where necessary.
By using 2 ropes, the team will be able to move faster through the canyon (two different ropes can be set up at the same time). Of course, this implies that at least two people in the group can take care of the needed ropework.
The canyon is bolted – you will find rappel rings at the rappel station and also a little bit above them, for setting up fixed lines to reach the rappel stations.
Individual gear> during spring, you will need a full neoprene suit and a waterproof container or a dry bag.
Mandatory gear regardless of season: harness, sling for clipping into anchors, descender, helmet, emergency blanket , penknife. Also, take with you a flashlight.
On our trip, we used rubber boots or hiking boots as footwear. If you go during the summer, make sure to bring either enough warm clothes or caving overalls. The temperature is quite low in the canyon.
Description of Cheia Rea canyoning route:
The canyon has 14 pitches which require a rope. Some of the pitches can be linked together. If coming from the Calea Fusului road, you will have to cross a concrete footbridge over the Cheia Rea stream to enter the valley. In the beginning, the terrain is not very rugged. The canyon sector begins with 20m high walls.
First pitch: it is 8m high and there are two rappel rings and two rings for setting up a fixed line (on the right side of the valley)
Second pitch: it is 4m high and you will find two rappel rings on the left side of the valley. Next, there is an almost flat section about 50m long.
Third pitch: 9m high. It is set up with two rappel rings and two rings for setting up a fixed line located on the left side of the valley. Then follows another almost horizontal section where the canyon gets wider.
Fourth pitch: this is a 2.5m rocky step with the rappel rings located on the right side of the canyon.
Fifth pitch: it is 6m high and it consists of 2 rocky steps which can be overpassed in one rappel. All anchors are on the left side of the canyon. There are two rings for setting up a fixed line and two rappel rings.
Sixth pitch: it is 9m high and it is provided with two rappel rings and two rings for setting up a fixed line, all on the right side of the canyon.
The rappels through this canyon do not raise any particular problems, especially in summer when the canyon is dry.
Seventh pitch: it is about 6m high. It is provided with two rappel rings and two rings for the fixed line located on the left side of the canyon.
This part of the canyon is very spectacular due to the narrow space between the high rocky walls.
Pitches 8 and 9:these are two short vertical steps (about 2.5m each), a little bit offset, which can be linked together in one rappel. Each step is provided with two rappel rings. The anchors are located on the left side.
After these pitches, there is a huge boulder stuck between the canyon walls, suspended above the next horizontal section of the route.
Pitch 10: it is 7m high. Here, it is mandatory to set up a fixed line in order to reach the rappel station safely. The anchors are on the right side of the valley: two rappel rings and two rings for the fixed line.
Pitches 11 and 12: these are rocky steps, the first one being 3m high and second one being 6m high. Both rappel stations are located on the left side of the canyon and are provided with two rings.
Pitch 13: it is 5m high. The two rappel rings are located on the left wall. This rappel ends in a plunge basin from where the next pitch starts.
Pitch 14: this consists of a descending fixed line followed by a 5m rappel. The anchors are on the left side of the valley.
After the last pitch, the canyon gets wider and the rocky walls are replaced by forested slopes.
After another 100m of hiking through the Cheia Rea dry valley, you get to the tourist trail marked with blue triangle signs on which you can continue the descent on the Sighiștelului valley or you can hike back up to the Calea Fusului road.
Time needed for the Cheia Rea canyoning route: Depending on the time of the year, the number of people in the group and the technical skills of each person in the group, the route can take 3-5 hours (this does not include the time needed for getting to or getting back from the canyon).
Getting back from the canyon: If you choose to come back on the Sighiștelului Valley, you should allow about 2.5 hours up to the exit from Sighiștelului Gorges. If you return to the car by following the marked path up to Calea Fusului (Spindle Path) forest road, it will take you about 1 hour.
Accommodation: You can stay in the camping area at the entrance to the Sighiştelului Valley or in the Vârtop tourist area (unfortunately, there is no camping there).
If you prefer enhanced comfort, you can consider staying at one of the guesthouses in Vârtop.
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