By Diana Vlad
For a long time I have wished to climb the Omu (Man) peak, the tallest peak in the Bucegi mountain range and the 11th highest in the Romanian Carpathian Range, but I never got around to it. I only climbed as far as the famous Sphinx and Babele (Old Women). From there there is about another 1 and a half hours to climb. But that is the really short and touristic route. We decided to do a proper alpine hike through Hornul Malaiesti (Malaiesti Chimney), which is a much longer and more challenging climb, but extremely rewarding, and I highly encourage it. It is worth pursuing at least once. The name is given due to the chimney-like shape of the peaks, as you will see in the photo.
The total amount of time it took us was from the moment we started hiking to the time we descended was about 13 hours, including breaks. We began at approximately 08:00 and arrived back at the car at about 21:15, which I’d say is amazing, given my intense stomach ache that day, but that is beside the point. I recommend you go equipped with good hiking shoes, clothes for all types of weather, a good mountain backpack, a flashlight, and some bear spray. Of course you will also need sufficient water and food.
After we crossed the foot of the mountains we reached a steep incline that literally took my breath away. After that steep incline you reach a relatively flat meadow, extremely delicate and beautiful; a blanket of green. Then there is another short steep incline and voila-you reach the belvedere, where you can see far and wide into the Bucegi Mountains. We continue our trail and we reach a distinguished burnt tree trunk to our right..I stopped and admired it, remembering how it looked back in winter when I was last there.
A bit further up and we reached Cabana Malaiesti, where we stopped for a break and a cup of tea. A few horses belonging to the cabin came to try to steal the visitors’ food from the table! Quite a sight to behold! But soon one of the owners came to chase them away further up into the valley. When we continued on our way we stopped a little bit by one of the horses, and I petted and embraced her, although she did accidentally bite me, beware!
Soon we reached the Chimneys. That was also when the heat began. It is a daunting thing, to look up at that steep path through the rocks. Large boulders dot the climb upwards. But it is not as difficult as it seems, and actually it is quite fun. It is the most technical part of the climb. You have to negotiate where to put your feet, your hands, to detect moveable rocks. But we reached the top sooner than I expected, and the view was really worth it. I guarantee that you would feel amazing and proud of yourself after completing this journey. When we reached the top of the Chimney we laid down on the grass for a while. The rest of the journey was not so difficult physically, only a bit mentally tiring, as you expect to reach Cabana Omu, but are not quite there yet. It can easily be seen in the far off distance. To the right lies the Gaura (hole) Valley.
Upon reaching the top at 2507 m altitude, I automatically go sit somewhere to rest. One of my traveling companions went on to climb the high rock, being the actual peak of the mountain. While everyone was taking selfies in front of the most famous cabin in the country, I gazed into the far off distance. In front I could see Costilea Peak, and to the right, hidden by clouds, was the Caraiman Peak, where the monastery named after it is also located. We drank some tea, ate from the food we brought with us, took some pictures, and after about an hour and a bit began our descent. The mist had already begun to rise, and it was a little difficult to see. It is important that you stay together in these situations.
I had expected the way down through the Chimneys would be difficult, but it wasn’t that bad, I really enjoyed it. By the time I reached the bottom, I felt full of peace and happiness. We stopped for dinner at Cabana Malaiesti at exactly 18:30. I’d say that is a really good time for this climb.
After a good dinner, we continued the climb down. It began to get dark around 8 pm, so we turned on our flashlights. It is important to make a lot of noise and talk, especially when it is dark, to keep the bears away. By this time you would be very tired, so do watch as you step over tree trunks! Other than that, the way down was relaxing, as we were helped by gravity.
I can assure you we had a very good and deep sleep that night in the town of Simon near Bran. The next day we woke up late and on our way back to Bucharest, we also stopped for awhile at Caraiman Monastery.
I hope you do decide to go on this amazing hike, just make sure you are well prepared for all kinds of weather and well-equipped. Thank you for reading.