Essential info for activators
Target summit: 8 points YO/EC-236 "Muncelu" - www.sota.org.uk/Summit/YO/EC-236
Our Route: There is a narrow wooden bridge that takes you from the main road (E58) over the Putna stream and to the start of the trail (you can cross by car or on foot). Check the GPS track. The climb is done on a forest road, on a surface covered in large and small boulders. It is also quite steep, but 4x4 cars are able to climb some of it (providing there are no fallen trees that block your path or other insurmountable obstacles). At some point there is a meadow with a sheepfold. From there the road becomes even more steep and rocky, so if you drove up to here, you should probably leave the car and continue on foot. The last few hundred meters are completely off-road anyway and you'll even have some trouble with advancing on foot.
GPS Track: www.wandermap.net/en/route/3543774-muncelu-yoec-236-gps-proper/
(download the track by clicking on "Export GPS data").
GSM coverage: Fair.
Summit conditions: Forested, very tight, the ridge is 1-2 meters wide, but between the vegetation, rocks and fallen trees there's not much room left to install a big antenna.
Other info: Narrow top, not much room, can be windy (no cover), easy-medium difficulty.
This summit was avoided by everyone for quite some time, even though it's fairly close to home. Suceava, our town, is some 70 kilometers away from it. There are currently eight activators in our town, all eager to first activate new summits, yet Muncelu remained untouched for a long time. Now eight is definitely not a huge number, but taking into consideration the number of ham operators and the program's popularity in the country, we could say that SOTA is booming in the area. In a 100 kilometer radius from Suceava there are 178 summits in the program. Just a couple of years ago most of them were never activated. Today, about half of them have been at least once activated, and many of them by these eight people from Suceava. I'm not bragging, but rather trying to convey the current state of affairs, so you can see that there is quite a bit of healthy competition going on around here. Back to Muncelu, we knew it was one of the steeper mountains from our garden - which, in terms of mountaineering difficulty, is a super-easy summit to climb (like taking the stairs instead of the elevator). But every time we opened the maps and looked for a hiking route, the trail eluded us. Weirdly so, because it is rather obvious.
Even long before I broke my leg, for some reason, I got quite lazy and searched for ridiculously easy summits to activate. So I got used to easy trails, or at least with summits that looked easy. With still two screws into my ankle and not much mobility, I start limping after nothing more than a kilometer of walking around town. In the case of Muncelu, I knew there was going to be some pain involved. I picked this summit because, besides never being activated, it seemed like a good place to measure my strength and see what I can and cannot do.
The route follows a mountain-road up to the last couple of hundred of meters, then veers left through some thick vegetation. That's what it should have been, anyway, if I wouldn't had taken a wrong turn in the first kilometer of the climb. Andrei advised me of the mistake, but I was so stubborn and convinced of my way that I pushed on, regardless. After unnecessarily walking through some boulders and bushes, we've came up to the road, just meters past the intersection that would have made everything right again. But because of the vegetation and steep terrain we didn't see the intersection and we thought the road we were on was the correct path. It would have been easy to confirm this on the GPS, but we didn't bother. So, instead, we've climbed on a steep meadow and reached a shoulder with several options ahead. We chose the shortest route possible and got on some supper steep and slippery terrain that prompted me to sweat and swear profusely. If it was this bad on the climb, it would be murderous on the descent, I was thinking. After some 100 meters of the stuff, we got to milder slopes. Then we have found a great trail that put us on the GPS track for the remaining 300 meters to the top. Navigating through thick vegetation, we reached the narrow summit some half an hour later than we predicted. Thanks to the chasers in our local group we were spared the trouble of installing the big rig, and thus we left the cold and windy summit quickly.
On the descent we followed the plotted route. The rocky road is quite steep in some places, no doubt, but poses no serious problems for hikers of any level. The last two kilometers were exceptionally painful for me, though, crawling at a horrible pace on relatively good terrain. According to the GPS, I walked my last 700 meters at a pace of 27:03 minutes per kilometer, or at just over 2 km/h.
Hi, we're a team of hams from Romania. We're into SOTA and other activities. Thanks for stopping by!