BWSC 2015

Another round of speed climbing, along with climbing marathon and film festival, was underway last weekend in Paklenica in what was the 15th installment of Big Wall Speed Climbing Paklenica. Resting on the laureates of last years victory and record, we arrived in the canyon for the first time this season only one week before the competition, so we had no idea what results to expect. We also did not do any specific training before, as we realized we could not summon the motivation necessary for another go at the record after last years crusade.

Only arriving in Paklenica brought back some nice memories, of many training days and sometimes insane efforts to win (like doing 100 pull-ups before going climbing might have been). But insane efforts can also squeeze out willpower to repeat the same thing again – so both brothers turned to other projects (Jurica to hard sport climbing, and Perica to projects outside of climbing). But even without specific training, we decided to support the competition with a recreational effort.

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Going at it in 2015

Our first go at the route surprised us a lot – we knew all the moves instantly (I really mean all the hand and foot placements and every quickdraw in the 160m route), like we were practicing the route a week before. But in our second try, we did realize that lack of specific training (or lack of any training in Perica’s case) brings it’s tolls with it, so we could not really expect anything close to the record braking 15 minutes and 16 seconds.

Come day of the competition, the conditions were nowhere near perfect – heavy rain all night made the route completely wet, and even doing the competition was in jeopardy. But, the route eventually dryed just enough for all of us to agree competing, but it was still really wet, with wet stripes all over the route, and even a small waterfall at one point before the crux.

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Pevec in a completely wet crux

This all meant quite slower times than expected (we thought we might get around 20 minutes), but at the end managed to do 24:34, just 17 seconds slower than our victorious friends from Zagreb, Ivan Pevec and Siniša Škalec, who finished third last year, and decided to train a bit more this year. In the end, we were satisfied with our effort and speed given the current form, and also got our confidence up if we ever decide to attack the record again (as we see it is not that far out of reach).

We would like to thank our sponsor Bim Sport and Petzl for their continuous support – we promise a new first place soon!

Medalists from the competition:
MEN – route BWSC (Big Wall Speed Climbing, 6c+/160m)
1. Ivan Pevec/Siniša Škalec HR 24:17
2. Jurica Levatić/Perica Levatić HR 24:34
3. Luka Mudronja/Luka Trumbić HR 40:00

WOMEN – route Karamara Sweet Temptations (6a+/110m)
1. Sunčica Hrašćanec/Inga Patarčić HR 15:58
2. Maja Rakić/Lada Lukinić HR 22:16
3. Charlotte Durif/Jerca Miklič FR/SLO 28:44

In other events, Paklenica was this year visited by teams from Spain, France and Ukraine, and the best thing was that all nationalities won at least one medal. You can read more about foreign efforts in spanish climbing magazine Desnvel article: http://www.desnivel.com/escalada-roca/sc/jesus-ibarz-con-alvaro-lafuente-y-juana-gonzalez-con-arnau-julia-ganan-el-paklenica-2015-international-climbers-meeting

Our shout-out also goes to Siniša Mataić and his great animated movie Off Belay, where we won the best movie award.

You can check the gallery of the competition from the excellent Luka Tambača here:

P.S. on the fun note, here is how friends cheered for out-of-shape me this year:

Belgian sensations

Last week I had the privilege to compete at the competition Biover Sport Open Bouldering Sensations in Gent in Belgium (although to be honest, you get this privilege by showing up and paying 15eur, but nonetheless, it makes a man happy when there is even a small adventure away from home).

The competition

The format was simple – you have 4 and a half hours for 45 boulder problems, in flash format. The six best proceed to the finals in the World Cup format (meaning counting the tries and waiting in the isolation room to compete).

The often mystical slab world

Problems were very varied in difficulty and angle – from easy grade 3/4 slabs which would barely warm you up, to several Fb7c problems that were meant to be for Guillaume Gui Gui Mondet, who competed here in the past, but did not show up this year. At the end I managed to do 25 of 45 problems, and this placed me 79 of around 130 people. It was not the place I got used to on BWSC earlier this year, but competing sure is fun.

And watching the finals was a treat – after an even battle in the mens field, local hero Micha Vanhout won in the last minute of the last problem. I was only sad not to see my friends Lowie and Maja compete, as they were working in the gym facility during the competition.

Gent climbing scene

What impressed me the most was the quantity of really good climbers, and even more so how many people simply lived climbing to the fullest. My hosts and long time friends Maja and Lowie are doing this – they work and train hard whilst saving money for the next several months (or years) long climbing trip. And what surprised me the most was that there were quite a few people living this lifestyle around this gym. Here in Croatia you could barely count truly dedicated climbers on fingers of the hand (myself not included, except for the purposes of winning the BWSC in Paklenica :-).

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“It is better to fail in superior style than to succeed in any other.” Leo Houlding

Anyways, it was really great to see how Gent climbers train and plan their next climbing trips. For me it was really fun to spend two full days climbing in the gym – I did a little rope climbing, a little route-setting, a little bouldering, a coffee or two in between, and I even squeezed a great fitness training session with Maja – who is determined to take her climbing to the next level and is training very seriously, if I may sound a little American with my climbing sleng.

Here are some photos from my dear friend Zvonka Gveric, who was also competing as she is living in Brusseles now.

Learning how to climb (normal) again

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Finalists: 1. Borna Čujić, 2. Luka Kivela, 3. Krešimir Morić, 4. Nikola Kramarić. 5. Ivan Pevec, 6. Jurica Levatić. Photo by Ivana Kuštek

Croatian bouldering championship

Merely two months passed since the BWSC competition, but it seems like a year. After the BWSC, there was no time to waste, Croatian bouldering championship in Pula was just two weeks ahead. I did a couple of training sessions on plastic to remind myself how to pull hard, but after 3 months of 6b-jug-climbing, it felt like my body will fall apart. It amazes me how quickly and efficiently the body adapts: you train, fell like super-fit speed climbing machine, and suddenly “normal” climbing starts to be awkward and strange. I left to Pula without big expectations. I was hoping to enter the finals, and did exactly that – just barely squeaked into. At the end, I took 6th place – sturdily :). Happy with the result, but to do better next year, a bit more (or a lot more) training is needed. Young-guns are becoming really strong. I really enjoyed the competition, this is always a nice opportunity to meet friends from all over Croatia.

Climbing around Slovenia

After Pula, it was finally time for some normal climbing again, without competition, pressure and stopwatches. My girlfriend Petra and I, were eager to make use of the benefits of living in Slovenia. There is a ton of crags, and most are within 1h driving from Ljubljana. One day you can climb in beautiful alpine setting, and the other enjoy sunny sea side. We visited some of the regular climbing spots, but also some of the less traveled ones – Slovenian friends are still making fun of our choices :). Particularly interesting was the crag named Pod Sušo. A relict from history, with plastic and drilled holds here and there, red restricting lines and hard-as-hell vertical routes. Anyway, it was good for getting back in shape, and I managed to send a few 8as and onsight a 7c (not at Pod Sušo 🙂 ).

Huge anchor at Pod Sušo.  Photo by Marina Jašić

Huge anchor at Pod Sušo. Photo by Marina Jašić

First ascent of the last project at Vranja peč

Two weeks ago, I decided to check out an old project at my home crag, Vranja peč. Vranja is a small piece of rock deep in the Zagorian forest, where mosquitos abound and gentle 0.5 promiles of alcohol are in the air :). The routes are just like the local drink rakija: short and intense. Only one line remained unclimbed there, an old project Igor Čorko bolted about 6 years ago. I was fumbling with this route for years now, but just couldn’t do the moves. This time I envisioned some very unobvious beta – and it worked! It features probably the hardest shoulder move I have ever done on rock.

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The move. Photo: L. Tambača

Next day, I returned with my brother, and suddenly, after a huge fight, found myself going for the last hold. The combination of excitement and exhaustion made me flying down. Damn! We were back two weeks later, but with no climbing in between due to work. Expectations and confidence were not high, but somehow, I stuck the shoulder move. I knew that there is no chance to do it again that day, so I was determined not to let go this time. And I didn’t. I named the route Pravi Muži. “Muž” is a typical Zagorian man: strong as bull and with remarkable drinking skills :). Grade? For sure the hardest at Vranja peč, so I will go with 8a+, one step at a time. Luckily, excellent photographer Luka Tambača was there, enjoy photo gallery: