The Closed Gates is a marked route of a ridge in the Retezat massif recommended to experienced tourists, near the Galesu Lake. If you want to see off the beaten track areas of unseen beauty, Travel Guide Romania advises you not to miss this sightseeing objective. If you are interested in an overview of the Retezat Mountains, you can check this article.
Location: „The Closed Gates” is the name of a ridge found upstream of a valley formed by the Galesu Lake.
Access: for those of you who want to cover the ground of this route we suggest that you come from: the city of Hateg or Petrosani > in the township of Ohaba de Sub Piatra you take on the European highway (E79) towards > the localities on the DN66 > Salasu de Sus > Malaiesti > Nucsoara.
Access tickets for the Retezat National Park: near Nucsoara locality you will pass by the Retezat National Park Lodge from where you can purchase entrance tickets. Here as well you can visit the Retezat Touristic Center (the park’s lodge).
Parking Lot: until you reach Carnic-Cascada Lodge we recommend driving or going by coach with the microbuses that come from Ohaba de Sub Piatra village in the summer. Near Carnic-Cascada Lodge there are some guesthouses where you can spend the night. We recommend that you continue your way to Pietrele Lodge.
Recommendation: on the way from Carnic-Cascada Lodge to Pietrele Lodge you will encounter a marker – Cascada Lolaia (Lolaia waterfall). It is not that impressive, only 15 m high, but it is still worth the visit. The touristic marker – blue stripe – has to be followed in order to reach Pietrele Lodge. Estimated time of the route is one hour and the level difference is 475 m.
Camping or accommodation: in order to cover The Closed Gates Ridge we recommend the following:
If you brought a tent – the camping site at Pietrele Lodge (camping is free of charge)
If you want to sleep in the Pietrele Lodge or in any other wooden cabin in the proximity, you will have to pay 25-35 RON (~6-8€).
In this area springs with clean water are found and you have the opportunity to dine at the lodge’s canteen where the prices are acceptable.
The Closed Gates Knoll route: in order to cover the ground we recommend starting from the Pietrele Lodge by following the red triangle marker (towards Galesu Lake). You will pass a coniferous forest, a turn in level, two valleys (among which the Bad Valley). After 40 minutes you will get to Taul dintre Brazi Lake (1740 m altitude), positioned and well-hidden in the fir forest.
The ascent continues towards the alpine gap, climbing through the mountain pines towards the Galesu Lake.
This is the second largest glacier lake in the Retezat Mountains, 40375 m2. Its average depth is -10,2 m and a maximum depth of -20,1 m. The bottom of the lake looks like a horizontal platform; its walls have an inclination of about 25°. It is found at 2040 m high. It will take about 2-3 hours to reach this point.
The view you admire once you reach the alpine gap will tell you more about the geological history of the Retezat Mountains – cauldrons and glacier cirques. It is assumed that in the crux of the Ice Age, the Retezat Mountains piled up the longest glaciers in Romania. These have descended and reached at Lapusnicului Valley – 1100m, at White River Valley – 1050 m and at Nucsoarei Valley – 1035 m.
From the Galesu Lake there is constant terrain ascension under the same marker – red triangle – that leads to a knoll, under Varful Mare Peak (2375 m).
In order to get to the path that leads to The Closed Gates of Retezat, you must take a right under the red stripe marker.
Red stripe marker – is the marker that will be guiding you along The Closed Gates Ridge. At times the marker will detour the knoll; the path winds under the knoll at a level difference of about 10 m. for those of you who would like a more sportive track, we must confess that the knoll can be covered on foot (carefully!) without mountaineering equipment on the upper part of the knoll. If you consider it to difficult and you are unsure of yourself we suggest that you follow the marked route.
Crossing the entire ridge – takes about one hour (if you take the sportive approach of covering it). You will be rewarded with views of exceptional beauty, admiring the ridge of the Taul Tapului Lake on the left and the glacier cauldron of the Galesu Lake on the right. It is assumed that this cauldron has three glacier levels, and that the glacier that covered this area since time immemorial had a relatively fast flow speed (due to the crevices formed through erosion by the glaciers).
We advise you to take a break of about 30 minutes to eat before crossing the ridge. Don’t forget to hydrate yourself throughout the route (if you find yourself in a valley, springs with fresh water can be found). It’s better to be equipped with trousers and a jacket against wind and rainfall (at a high altitude, the weather forecast changes quickly). Recommended shoes are the boots with solid soles.
The return: in order to return to the camping site at Pietrele Lodge we suggest continuing your trip on the same marked path (red stripe). You will pass under the Tapu Peak and you will have the option of:
– descending on the Bad Valley (Valea Rea)
-continue the ascension on the Papusa Peak and then descending towards the Pietrele Lodge through the Pietrele Valley. Because the trip to the Closed Gates is quite long, we suggest descending directly on the Bad Valley.
The marker of the intersected route of the Rea Valley is the yellow triangle. The impressive ridge on the left and on the right of the valley are Pietrele ridge and Bad Valley Ridge. Their walls are abrupt, formed on callow rocks, with no soil or vegetation and are furrowed by avalanches, torrents and rivers of rocks. A strand of lakes is found here.
You might probably encounter difficulties at the beginning of the descent, because the area is poorly marked. If you follow the course of the valley you will eventually reach the marker. You can guide yourself by the rock piles set by the mountain-goers in order to help tourists orient themselves.
The estimated time of the return is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. You must descend a considerable level difference of 800 m.
In case you want to make another trip and are staying overnight in the same area, we recommend visiting: Retezat Peak through Lolaia Ridge. You can return at Pietrele Lodge through Pietrele Valley, by descending from the main ridge through Curmaturii Bucurii area.
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