Agricantus

For few years now, I’m dreaming of doing an 8a multi-pitch in Anića kuk. So, after finishing the Corrida project, I switched my focus to that. Who would say that only one week after Corrida, I would tick-off this thing as well from my life time list? So, yesterday, I did Agricantus in Paklenica! It’s 200m long route, with 7 pitches: 6c, 5c, 7b, 7b+, 6a, 8a, 7b. You can read below few words about the whole experience.

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We were too busy with climbing, so I only have this blurry photo from the top of Agricantus.

I’m so happy to share another news – Perica finally did some climbing as well. He did Johnny (7a, 200m) in Debeli kuk. And he did it in superb “Huber” style: leading all the pitches onsight. Heck, he even improved the “Huber” style, he had two ladies belaying him 🙂

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I think Perica’s photo is miles better than mine 🙂

About the Spider-Agricantus experience:

On Saturday, with my friend Uroš, we went to try the legendary route Spider in Anića kuk. We were making good progress, but the 8a pitch stopped us, and we retreated. I actually managed to flash all the pitches up to the 8a (2x6c, 7a+, 7c, and 7c+). Also, I came agonizingly close to flash 8a as well. The victory jug was within reach, but I got scared and fell while I was trying to clip the bolt from wrong holds, instead of going for the jug. It’s a bit different when you have 200m of air below your ass :).

I was quite disappointed, only once in a lifetime you get a chance to flash Spider. Well, with 3 more 7b pitches after the 8a, Spider is far from over, and who knows whether I would be able to pull it off. In any case, it would have been an epic fight, and I’m sad I didn’t get a chance to indulge into it.

The next morning, we were both feeling shattered and super tired. However, we went to check Agricantus, with the plan to climb until we were feeling it, and then abseil down. I first checked the route few weeks ago with Siniša Škalec, and wanted to remind myself the moves for a proper try next weekend. The first go in 8a pitch was disaster, just barely climbing from bolt to bolt. However, the next go, something happened and I entered the pit-bull state of mind, and screamed myself Ondra style to the top of the pitch. I hope somebody didn’t call the rescue service :). The whole Spider experience actually helped in this case, during the ascent I had one thought in my head: “F**k it, I let Spider slip away, I will not let this one go”. It’s amazing how far the mind can push the body.

But it was not over yet, there is one more 7b to the top, which I didn’t check before. I’m so lucky I didn’t brake anything off and managed to onsight it. This pitch is horribly fragile. It was an epic onsight, with cramps in my body all over the place. All the suffering was compensated by the beautiful moment, when on the verge of exhaustion, I pulled over the lip, the sun hit my face, and I realized it was over.

Big thanks go to Uroš! I know it was a suffer fest for him when I did the 8a pitch and we had to go to the top. I hope I will be able to return the favour soon!

Thanks people for reading! Stay strong and motivated!

Jurica

P.S.

Power bars are a fraud, Kosana mast (aka Zaseka) rules! Thanks Marjan!

 

Corrida

It happened today, I climbed Corrida, my second 8c! Of course, the route is located in the temple of climbing – Mišja peč. It was almost exactly one year ago, when I did my first 8c. It seems other people’s off-season in Mišja is my season in Mišja 🙂

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The crux move of Corrida. Photo. Luka Tambača.

This time, the path to success was a bit easier, especially from the mental aspect, but still it was a bumpy one. Again, I had to go into full on projecting mode, obsess over the route, lose some weight and pilgrimage to Mišja peč few times a week for a couple of months. I even stopped eating sweets for 2 months!

However, since I went through similar process last year, this time I was better mentally prepared for all the tricks Corrida has prepared for me. For example, one day I fell 0.5m from the anchor, then the next two or three visits to Mišja, I was nowhere near that point. What a mind fuck! But, I knew it’s just a natural rhythm, you cannot operate at you maximum all the time. It happened in Vizija as well. Just be patient, and you will arrive at your high-point again. And indeed, eventually I fell again 0.5m from the anchor. Then once more. Then once more 0.25m from the anchor. Then once more in the lower crux… Today I finally managed to stay relaxed enough, not get over-excited when pulling through the last moves, and clip the anchor. Actually, I felt quite solid, with still some gas left in the tank at the top.

In retrospect, I was probably pushing it too far, often going to Mišja peč when the body was not rested enough, and more importantly, when the mind was not fresh. Each try required 100% focus, and it’s not easy to push the body and mind to their limits day in, day out, for weeks. Eventually, the brain will start to scream “Not again!”. Trying the route at your limit will stop to be fun at one point, but I’ve learned that, rather than giving up, you have to overcome that barrier. The success is usually very near on the other side of it. Sometimes it’s not. But anyway, are we here to have fun, or to send hard routes? 🙂

At the end of the day, I’m really grateful to be in this position, living 1 hour away from Mišja peč (and a ton of other great crags), and having a flexible job which allows to escape to climbing at odd times. And most of all, I’m grateful for having a loyal (climbing) partner. It would not be possible without Petra, and her endless support. Recently, she also send her big project: Rodeo, her first 7a! It’s the first pitch of Corrida, so it was really nice experience to project the route together. Sometimes she was even more psyched to go to Mišja than I was. Try to find a girlfriend like that!

As always, author of the photos is Luka Tambača. If there is no Luka, who likes taking photos as much as he likes climbing, most probably me (and better part of Croatian climbers) would’t have any nice climbing photos. You can check his work here: http://lukatambaca.com/.

Hmm… now the question is, whether to eat that chocolate cake, or to find a new project while I’m still fit? I guess I know the answer. Who likes chocolate anyway? 🙂

Thanks for reading people!

Jurica

Stories from the south, part II: Bari

After almost 3 months of being on the road, I’m finally settled back in Ljubljana, which by now got embraced by its regular winter companion – fog. This makes for a perfect opportunity to recount the sunny memories from the south.

As a visiting student, I spend two months in Bari, capital of the Puglia region in Italy. I must admit that this chaotic port city didn’t seem very attractive at first. However, don’t judge the book by its covers, they say, and they couldn’t have said it better! After two months spend there, Bari took a special place in my heart. I’m sure it will find its place on my itinerary many times more.

Being climber at heart, of course the first thing I did was to look for a climbing gym (which was not a trivial task at all). The only bouldering gym in Bari is Kankudai, which I learnt, dates as far as 25 years back. It reminded me a bit on good old Podsused. My first training session there I spend completely alone, wondering if there are any climbers in Bari at all. Then, two days later, I found the place completely packed with psyched climbers! It turned out, they train on Mondays and Thursdays, and everybody train together. Immediately they embraced me as one of their own. I was taught rules of the gym: flash doesn’t count if you touch holds other that the starting ones; after climbing we do body workout; when climbing sequences, hell hooks and toe hooks are not allowed, and for God’s sake don’t do knee bars :). Oh man, I just love places with character, and this place has one!

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Kankudai bouldering gym

Bari has small, but extraordinary climbing community. I didn’t felt that kind of energy in a while. No matter how hard you climb, your effort will be cheered, and your success will be applauded. In today’s shiny new climbing gyms, more and more often people tend to mind their own business and don’t interact to much with each-other. However, in Bari the true climbing camaraderie is still alive.

As you can probably tell, I’m absolutely trilled about training sessions in Kankudai, but of course, we did some outdoor climbing as well. Around Bari, there are a lot of beautiful places to climb. Statte, Laterza, Pulo di Altamura, to name a few. I have to single out Statte, the unusual place where pockets meet tufas, two types of holds I like the most. Simply brilliant routes! I managed to repeat some local classics: Leite de burra (8a), L’artiglio di Dorica (8a), Omaha lunga (7c+), CaH di LumH (7c), Bong (7b+, OS), Superskunk (7b+, OS), and some more easier routes.

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Good company and good overhang, what more can one ask for?

I owe largely to the local climbers, for the wonderful 2 month experience I had in Bari. They were not just climbing partners, but great friends as well. So, from the bottom of my heart, I have to say: Grazie Baresi!

Part of the Kankudai team, “training sessions” would often last well after midnight.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for the 3rd Spanish chapter of Stories from the south.

Jurica

Stories from the south, part I: Macedonia

Our travels are usually motivated by climbing, but invitation to a wedding in Macedonia was opportunity to travel Petra and I happily embraced. We packed suits and dresses, and hit the south (of course we left some room for climbing equipment).

The wedding itself was extraordinary experience: wedding in the ancient orthodox mansion, traditional music, oro dance, slapping money on musician’s forehead, ordering rakija and having served a full jar of it – all night long… I could go on and on and easily devote the entire blog post just to the wedding, but this blog should be about climbing, shouldn’t it?

Climbing-wise, Macedonia is most known for its world class bouldering venue Prilep. However, summer is way too hot for pulling on extremely sharp granite in Prilep. So, as an attractive sport climbing alternative, the local climbers suggested Demir Kapija.

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Entrance to the canyon

Demir Kapija is a small town in south-eastern part of Macedonia, sitting on the bank of Vardar river. The river has carved a narrow canyon through the mountain, which earned the town its name – Iron Gate (from Turkish Demir Kapı). We had four days to explore climbing sectors scattered through the canyon – and we had a great time. My favorite sector was Vardarska sahara, yellow, slightly overhanging wall, with incredible routes up to 30m long. The climbing there is technical, crimpy, and super-sustained – one of the most sustained routes I ever climbed on.

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Vardarska sahara

With all that rakija consumed during the wedding party powering me, I had no choice but to do most of the hard routes in Demir kapija 🙂 Here’s my tick list: Porošenok (8a, 2. go), Zabushant (8a, 2. go), Kalabaster (7c+, OS), Drozzi (7c, OS), Jamal (7b+, OS), Jelat (7b+, OS), Crna 2 (7b, OS), Chekor po chekor (7b, OS), Skapa žena (7a+, OS).

Petra did her second 6c in just few goes, and skipped few grades in onsight style by doing a notorious 6b+ slab, where the crux involves literally no handholds, and only one downward facing foothold.

If you travel to Demir Kapija, don’t expect huge rock faces and hundreds of routes, but there is a decent amount of well bolted, quality routes. However, what will you get in return is a memorable experience of Macedonian lifestyle, pristine nature and awesome (and cheap) food. I have to advertise restaurant Kutchkin where čevapi were out of this world! A man to search for is Alex Klenov. A Russian guy with permanent address in Demir kapija, who runs the Rock Land Camp, and knows everything you need to know about climbing there. Fun fact: he competed in BWSC 2006!

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Camping place – we had the entire place for ourselves

The »Stories from the south« is about to have a second chapter: Two days ago I arrived in Bari, a city in southern Italy. I will stay here until mid-November to work on a common project between Jožef Stefan Institute and University of Bari Aldo Moro (not to be confused, the project is about science, not climbing :)). Hopefully, I will get to try some local climbing as well, or at least do some quality training time. For sure it will not be boring, since the first hour spend here involved breaking into my car… More on that later 🙂

After Bari, another southern adventure is on agenda: We booked tickets to a Spanish climbing paradise – Chullila.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Jurica

There is no place like home

When the holidays arrive, we climbers often feel almost obliged to travel to some distant place in search for “the best” crag that ever existed. We sit in a car, drive as far as humanly possible in one push, climb a few routes, then reverse the driving torture, catch some sleep, and endure that cursed Monday totally wrecked at our jobs. Sometimes I wonder, why I just went to a place with 500 routes, only to climb 20 of those? Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against visiting places like Rodellar or Ceuse, but my point is that maybe sometimes it is possible to please climbing appetite at your doorstep – as good as in Spain or France.

Driven by the former “wise” philosophical discussion, the day before departure to our dream crag 500km away, Petra and I decided to head for the good old Buzet instead. Istria is slowly (or maybe not so slowly?) but surely becoming a world class climbing destination. There are numerous high quality crags, with different orientation, making it possible to climb all year long. Also, historic Istrian towns, like Grožnjan or Motovun, are absolutely charming way to spend rest days, or just to have a coffee between morning and afternoon climbing session. As an added value, there is a good chance to bump into old friends, which know all the beta, and will help you to send your project faster :).

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Pengari sector – it doesn’t get much better than this!

Climbing-wise, I was feeling in a great shape. By some miracle, I could crank hard crux moves, while being totally pumped. I can’t remember the last time I had this quality – or when did I acquire it :). I managed two 8a routes 2.go in the same day (Too late and Šefka), which is my new personal highlight. Also, I onsighted absolutely phenomenal 7c+ called Skitalica, and a bunch of routes in 7a-7c region.

Enjoy few picture from our Istria trip, and see you at some (domestic) crag :).

 

Marjetica

Hi fellow readers of levaticbros! After a long silence, we finally have some news to share with you. This weekend I climbed Marjetica (8b/b+) in Mišja peč! I’m very happy about this one, since I didn’t do a route this hard in a while. Also, I’m super syked to try harder start of Marjetica which bumps the grade to a holy grail number of 8c 🙂

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Entering the crux of Marjetica. Photo: Stefano Staffetta

From the beginning of the Mišja peč season in November, I started trying Marjetica seriously. With each visit, I was making good progress, however, this came to a sudden stop in a form of loud cracking sound from my knee. Diagnosis: dislocated knee-cap. Luckily nothing was broken, but climbing was out of the question for a while. On the positive side, this happened right before Christmas, so I could enjoy vacations in peace, without the usual itchy climbers’ fingers. Fast forward one month, and I was back on rock – of course without even thinking about knee-drops. It still took some time for Marjetica to happen – doing the upper crux when climbing from the bottom was harder than I thought. Lesson learned: no matter how easy the moves feel, doing them pumped is different story. Lesson two learned: get some endurance!

There is a good month of training left before the after-work season of climbing starts, and I’m keen to make it count. It is really surprising what one month of hard, thought-out training can do – check this for inspiration: https://fullpsycheahead.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/the-return-of-the-masochist/

Thank you for reading,

Cheers,
Jurica

Siurana

Siurana is a piece of climbers’ heaven in the heart of Catalonia in Spain. I briefly visited it few years ago, and was completely blown away by the place. That time, we also visited other major crags in Spain, like Rodellar and Margalef, but Siurana, with its magical atmosphere and rich climbing history, left the biggest impression on me. Yes, I have an itch for places from old climbing movies and consider that the early Masters of Stone series are the best climbing movies ever made :). This time we decided to devote the entire trip just to Siurana. My girlfriend Petra, and I teamed up with the crew from Zagreb: Pavao, Nikola, Sven, Ana and Ljubo – the psyche machine, for a two weeks of climbing.

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The village of Siurana sits on top of the cliff, surrounded by endless amount of yellow and gray rock.

The climbing in Siurana is more on the old school side: technical routes on gentle overhangs mainly with crimps and pockets. More than 60 sectors scattered around and 1000+ of routes, can keep you busy for years (or lifetime if you surname is not Ondra). Today, you can often encounter a phrase ‘Spanish grades’, but the locals are vigorously guarding Siurana from soft grades. The grades are not super stiff like in Buoux, but you will rarely find an easy tick, and if you do, it will likely be downgraded in the next guidebook issue.

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Anabolica, one of the most classical 8a’s in Siurana.

We ended by taking just 2 rest days on the entire trip. This was not optimal for climbing performance, but the psyche was too high for sitting in the camp. I climbed around 45 routes up to 8a, with several 7c onsights. My Siurana highlights are: Antuan Pirulero (8a, 2. go), Skateboy (7c+), Pequeño saltamontes (7c+), Solos a solas (7c, OS), Boys don’t cry (7c, OS), Der palo torete (7c), Malcarat (7c). We also visited nearby climbing area Montsant, where I onsighted amazing 50 meter long 7c called Kamaleon.

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Nice interior decorations in Bar Siurana 🙂 As always, thanks to Bim sport d.o.o. and Petzl for support.

It’s been three weeks since we are back, and I’m finally starting to recover from the post-rock-trip depression :). We flew from golden Catalonian sun directly to the season of endless rain and fog in Slovenia. Sometimes you get a desire to drop the job and spend few months dirtbagging under the cliff. It amazed me how many people are actually doing exactly that. We meet numerous people from all over the world who are traveling for months just visiting top climbing venues. Climbers are really innovative when it comes to traveling cheaply and fitting jobs around climbing. I met a guy who is doing (a part of) his PhD in Siurana! Well, it’s time to start ‘innovating’ :).

Thank you for visiting Levaticbros! Until next time, Jurica.

Photo gallery from Spain: