New record!

BWSC competion was held yesterday, and my brother and I managed to win again, with a new record! The bar was high, and Čorko&Mucko team started the day with a time of 15:55. We answered back with 15:16, giving everything we had and putting a great closure to the last 3 months of hard preparations!

We want to thank out sponsor Bim Sport d.o.o. for the support – excellent Petzl gear helped us win.

Here are some short results and photos, with more coming soon in the following days!
1. Jurica and Perica Levatić 15:16
2. Igor Čorko and Emil Mucko 15:55
3. Ivan Pevec and Siniša Škalec 22:07
4. Luka Mudronja and Luka Trumbić 39:29

[UPDATE] You can read, watch and see more about our win in the following links:
Report – Planet Mountain (English)
Report – 8a.nu (English)
Report – eVaraždin (Croatian)
Video – VTV (Croatian)
Photo Gallery

Advertisements

BWSC – our story

My brother Jurica and I compete in the Big Wall Speed Climbing competition since year 2007, with steady progress each year. We missed years 2008 and 2011 because of injury or work, which brings our tally to 5 competitions, with two wins so far.

Below you can read a short story of each our year in the competition.

2007
Time: 40:10 (2nd place)

Coming second in our first year of the competition felt like a win for us. Photo: D. Pačić

Coming second in 2007 – like a win!

First year we competed was very interesting, and completely awesome for us. Our climbing mentor (and now a rival) Igor Čorko told us to come and check the competition, and it was a really great thing for both of us since. The team of Igor Čorko&Ljubomir Sakač were unbeatable that year, and our rivals were a pair of Boštjan Potočnik (SLO) and Adnan Čatić (BiH). Back then specific training for BWSC was not in fashion, and especially not for us.

We tried the route 2 weekends before the competition, and that was it – ready we were! We were young and crazy, and just went for it! We managed to win the second place, and it blew us away – it was our first podium in sport of climbing!

2009
Time: 32:01 (4th place)

This year I was not in shape at all, and in spite of offers from better climbers to compete with them, Jurica denied them all and remained true to what has now become more a story of brotherhood than climbing or competing.

We managed to climb the route few times before the competition day, and that was it for training that year. While not prepared so well, we did manage to improve our time by more than 8 minutes, and finished fourth. It was then that motivation for victory was fueled for the first time.

2010
Time: 26:17 (2nd place)

Jurica exiting the crux in BWSC 2010 competition

Jurica exiting the crux in BWSC 2010 competition

This was the year we really wanted to win. The mighty Čorko&Sakač team stopped competing after setting the record a year before (at 21:23). We added some running to training a month before, and we came to Paklenica 10 days before the competition to train in the route itself.

While this could be called specific training, we did not stop normal climbing, but just added some additional speed training, and it was all more ad hoc than not – we did not even use a stopwatch!

The slovenian climbing brothers Bečan decided to mess with our plans. Being pro climbers, they managed to beat us by just 11 seconds with very little training. Our time was better than theirs all the way until the last pitch, where our stamina gave out and we lost a minute of advantage we had. We did not win that year – but seed of proper training was planted.

2012
Time: 20:49 (1st place, new record)

This year was ours – and we made sure of it in training long before the competition day. We decided to win, but we also decided to prepare to win, with the latter being all the difference needed. We started very specific training two months before the competition and stopped normal climbing – all our time was dedicated to speed climbing.

Proud of the new record. Photo: L. Tambača

Finally – victory in the bag!

We compiled some very specific uphill sprinting exercises, trained speed climbing at local crags, we visited Paklenica three times before the competition and did some mental preparations as well. We arrived in Paklenica 10 days before the competition to climb only the BWSC route. We sacrificed normal climbing completely – that year Jurica was very, very close on his first 8b+ climb (he was falling on the last move), but stopped it and devoted himself completely to BWSC.

With all the preparations the stage was set for speed. With 23:00 time in training, we knew the record was in danger. Come competition day, we climbed composed and with good rhytm, and managed a time of 20:49 – both first win and record in one year. We were ecstatic, but certainly not done with BWSC!

2013
Time: 27:02 (1st place)

This year we were back with one more goal left – climbing the route below the magical 20 minutes mark. We started with specific training about 6 weeks before (Jurica again left his infamous first 8b+ unclimbed), but that year the preparations went downhill almost from day one. Our trips to Paklenica were plagued by heavy rain from the start, Jurica was moving to Ljubljana at the time of the preparations, and I was overwhelmed with work. On top of that, we both got sick when we arrived for the 10 days of training in Paklenica.

Completely wet on anchor 4 during the 2013 comp

Completely wet on anchor 4 during the 2013 comp

To make things worse, on competition day it started to rain just minutes before it was our turn to climb. We were given a choice to either go for it now, or wait for a reserve day on Sunday. Since all went downhill this year, we said to ourselves “F**k it”, and went for it. We climbed the last two pitches completely wet (see picture), and still managed a respectable time of 27:02. Again – won but not done.

2014

This is bound to be the most interesting and most competitive year since we compete. Čorko is back with the super strong Mucko, Pevec and Škalec team are training around the clock, and we invested more time than ever in this competition.

We are training specifically for BWSC from January, with a very sophisticated and planned approach, and we are now close to the end of 15 days of route specific preparations in Paklenica. Luckily, Jurica sent his 8b+ project, so we are at peace with speed climbing!

Perica on the fast slab section after the crux in pitch 3

Perica on the fast slab section after the crux in pitch 3

BWSC history

Waiting for the competition, we prepared a few interesting articles about Big Wall Speed Climbing competition in Paklenica.

Check our “BWSC History” section in the menu above, or click on the links  below:

Apart from that, training is going well, and we were lucky to finish all the important parts of training before this rainy weekend, when we had a scheduled rest days before the last week of preparations.

Speed is coming

Our final preparations for the competition have begun – we arrived in Paklenica 3 days ago, and we stay here until the competition day (3rd of May). The “work” parts of training are done, cardio levels are high and now there is only one (most important) thing remaining – pure speed.

in-the-moment

Jurica focused in third pitch, with Perica handling the gear on second anchor.

For the next two weeks the main accent of training is on quality speed attempts of the route. We have worked out all the moves and sequences, achieved all individual pitch times as planned, perfected gear management – what’s left now is to put all the training elements into one big picture – or better said raw speed.

New rope, new speed

Our sponsor BIM Sport provided us with a new Petzl 9.2 mm Volta rope. Petzl is already known as the leading gear manufacturer, and they have recently started making climbing ropes. We won’t be surprised if Petzl also becomes a leading rope manufacturer, as we can both say this is the best rope we ever climbed with.

Best rope ever -Petzl Volta 9.2mm

Best rope ever -Petzl Volta 9.2mm

Petzl Volta is ultra-light and super smooth rope – we were both surprised how easy is the handling. In speed climbing, belaying can also be very tiring, as the second climber is at some points so fast you barely manage to take in all the rope – so easier rope handling and less friction can save you some valuable energy for later pitches of the route.

Fast anchor clipping session

So far our plans were (again) disturbed by the rain. Waiting for the route to dry in the nearby cave, we had a fun practice session with Pevec and Škalec team. We used velcro, tape, pants and hope to clip the anchor as fast as possible. You can see the rather funny results of the session below:

Stay tuned for more this week!

Work days, speed days

This weekend was our 5th BWSC specific trip to Paklenica this year, where the only focus is to train for the competition, and it was far from ideal conditions yet again. We arrived late Friday night, and as usual jumped straight out of the car for an easy night jog from the apartment to the National park parking and back (around 5 km).

Saturday started sunny, but quickly became a battle with rain. The rain first caught us in warm up, so we hided in a nearby overhang with sport-climbing routes. Jurica took the window of opportunity for some normal climbing, and sent his project from last summer – Los compadres de puta madre (8a/a+) while it was still dry.

The rain stopped, and after only 45 minutes our route was completely dry. We quickly geared up and went to training. Saturday was the last planned “work” day in the route – all the rest of days in the route were planned to be “speed” days.

Racking up

Racking up

Work day means you go through the route and practice the moves, sections or pitches multiple times. In a typical work day, you would do every pitch 2-4 times, switching between improving your sequence with new hand-feet combinations, memorizing and repeating old moves, and occasionally testing your single pitch speed with a timed push.

In a speed day, the task is a lot simpler, but also harder. You rack up, press start on the stopwatch, make a run for it and press stop when the second climber touches the 5th anchor. We noticed that it takes us more time to rack up than to get on top of route!

The plan was to finalize and polish all the small details we had left in the route on Saturday, before making speed attempts on Sunday. We were making great progress, when on 3rd anchor it started to rain for real. In less than a minute, we were completely wet – Jurica was even having a small waterfall drop exactly on him while he was belaying me, as I was slowly climbing a normally very easy pitch 4 through the rain, with the goal to reach the rappel line.

Sunday was thankfully sunny, so we finished our work left in pitches 4 and 5 in the morning, and did one speed go in the evening. We decided not to reveal our time from this weekend, but don’t worry – we are fast!

Some image details:

BWSC route and training details

The competition route follows a line in the Debeli kuk, an impressive 200m wall rising in the middle of the Paklenica canyon, and is named accordingly: Big Wall Speed Climbing.

In the competition we climb the first five pitches of total six, which adds up to 160m of height with grades as follows: 5c (33m), 6a+ (22m), 6c+ (43m), 4a (20m), 6b (42m). Each pitch has it’s own characteristics:

BWSC_route

The BWSC route

First pitch starts with a chimney, followed by strange climbing in a corner, where it’s not simple at all to be fast, and extra strength does not help much – you cannot climb it like a ladder, but you have to use your feet precisely.

Second pitch is our favorite. It starts with a bouldery crux of 4 moves, and then continues as a ladder of jugs – where you can pull like crazy with hands and be minimalistic with feet placements (but like this you burn out faster).

Third pitch is the longest, the most vertical, and the most demanding – after 35 meters of jugs (placed far apart and often in vertical side-pull positions) you get to the crux, which involves a hard jump from a sharp crimp to a jug with slippery footholds. The challenge in the third pitch is not to burn all your power, but still be fast.

After that comes the easiest pitch, 4a – but the most scary pitch in case of a fall. This short and easy pitch has mostly big sharp radiators in it – a typical type of holds in Paklenica. Falling there would not be funny at all (when being fast, you have to be very loose on the belay, and this extends every fall for an additional 2-3 meters).

Finally, last pitch has a fast juggy start, but second half changes into a very tricky chimney where again you have to be very precise with the feet – which is not simple at all when being fast, and by now breathing very heavy.

Climbing the route in competition

Jurica in the crux jump (pitch 3, 6c+).

During the competition we have to exchange leads in the route, as simultaneous climbing is forbidden for safety reasons. This puts a a significant emphasis on the first climber, as he leads the hardest pitch. This got a bit harder during the last few years, as the tactics changed and no longer include stopping at the 2nd anchor (more on racking up and tactics in a later post), so the leader has to sprint through the second pitch, then follow with almost equally fast tempo through the third pitch all the way to the crux – this adds up to almost 60 meters of sprinting on jugs before the crux jump.

Jurica took the challenge and responsibility of being the leading climber from the first year we are competing, and he is doing it this year with more zest then ever. As a second climber, Perica has a lot more work with gear on the anchors, and generally should go faster in the long pitches as he is climbing on top-rope and starts the hard pitches after a rest on belay.

Interestingly, during all these years Perica never led the third and hardest pitch, not even once during training – he was always climbing it on top-rope – so, technically speaking he never officially climbed the route, in spite of holding the record, and climbing the route probably a 100 times!

The training

Training for the route changed a lot through the years – from occasionally climbing the route and maybe a few runs to help with the cardio – to a 3 months siege of the route, with specific 2-phase training, and memorizing each hold, each move and each clip of the route.

Perica entering the 4th pitch.

Perica entering the 4th pitch.

During the first phase, our training involved doing a 7 weeks to 50 pull-ups program, coupled with endurance climbing in the gym, exercises for core and antagonist muscles, and light running to prepare for the cardio based second phase. We also spent three full weekends in the route, practicing the moves and finding new, faster sequences.

Unfortunately, we never tested our max pull-ups, because our cardio phase already started as we were finishing the pull-up program, and now there is too much other training going on to afford additional training stress on the pull-up bar. The most important thing is that we feel strong – so I guess the program worked!

In the second phase, which is more simple but a lot more intense – we do three things. First is interval running, involving an exchange of sprint and normal speed running sequences in a single push.  Next part is basically doing the first part on the rock – let’s call it sprinting vertically. The third and most important part of training is making speed attempts in the route itself – where we basically do 2 speed runs in the route per day during a weekend. This phase is especially difficult because of strong emphasis on cardio – it involves very brutal training sessions, where feeling nausea or being close to puking  is not excluded, but rather a frequent part of the training.

The bar is high in 2014

The speed limit is off this year, as the teams competing for gold are both training very hard, and are more prepared than anyone has ever been for this competition. Our rivals shook things up additionally last weekend, with a time of 20″ 56′ in training – only 7 seconds slower than our record from 2012, for which we trained a full two months. Yes, we did scratch our head a couple of times!

double-pic-bros-corkomucko

The leaders entering the third pitch. Our rivals were the first to set the bar to a new level – previous records are now being broken in training.

Next day it was our turn. Fueled by fierce competition we sprinted up the route. In spite of many technical mistakes (e.g., Perica fell in 3rd pitch, which didn’t happen in 5 years) the clock stopped at 21″ 20′. The race is ON!

During the weekend, we also made a nice photo session with Luka Tambača. Thank you a lot Luka! As always, he did an excellent job, as you can see in the gallery: Training for BWSC 2014.

For more work from Luka, visit his personal page: lukatambaca.com.

Tune-up next week for a complete history of BWSC competition!

The need for the speed …

We are two brothers from Varaždin, Croatia, we have been climbing for 10 years and this is our new blog – which aims to cover our preparation for the BWSC 2014 competition to be held on 3rd of May, 2014 in Paklenica, and later our small climbing journeys.

To get more information about two of us, visit About page!

Thank you Bim sport and Petzl!

Sponsors

We are grateful to have a sponsor for this year’s competition – Croatian Petzl distributor Bim Sport will support our new chase for the record with equipment and clothing. Thank you Bim Sport and Petzl!

Big Wall Speed Climbing Paklenica 2014

Big Wall Speed Climbing Paklenica is a unique competition, where the goal is simple – climb a 160m route BWSC (6c+) as fast as possible, under specific set of rules (for instance, simul climbing is forbidden and you have to clip all the quickdraws). The competition is being held each year on the 1st of May since 2000, and we are competing since 2007.

After a series of second places, in the year 2012 we decided to take this competition a bit more seriously, and win it. With two months of very specific training and preparation under the belt we succeeded in setting the new speed record with the time of 20 minutes and 49 seconds (beating the previous record by more than half a minute). The record still stands, but is bound to be beaten this year.

Why is 2014 so interesting?

During the competition.

Except for the fact that BWSC in Paklenica is the biggest climbing festival organised in Croatia and brings together hundreds of climbers each year, this time it is specially interesting because the previous record holder and one of the best climbers in Croatia, Igor Čorko, is coming back to try to claim the record again. He is partnering with Emil Mucko, who is a super naturally gifted individual, also holding multiple BWSC wins.

Interestingly, two of them and two of us are all from the same climbing gym PK Vertikal in Varaždin. So, it is a combination of friendships and rivalry – our goal from the beginning was to break our own record again, and added rivalry makes it all a little bit more intense.

Training

Training for the competition is already long underway – it includes (a lot of) pull-ups, interval running, gym exercises, special endurance climbing and of course – practice in the route itself, because it is the same route each year.

For more details on our preparation, wait for our next post!

First helmet we used in BWSC – of course it was Petzl!

First photo: L. Mudronja
Second photo: D. Pačić
Third photo: D. Koljnrekaj