Yosemite 2017

A year ago I visited Yosemite for the first time, and the trip was so great me and Viktor decided to repeat it again this year. Yosemite Valley is truly mesmerising the first time you visit, and equally amazing the second time as well!

This time we had two more Croatians with us, Siniša and Ivek, the team from PK Vertikal (they stayed 3 weeks). The first day we all headed to the famous Cookie Cliff, where Ivek and Škalec jumped on single pitch routes, while we practiced some aiding, hauling and jumaring skills. After the first day, with taking both our aiding speed into consideration and the the fact we only had one week in the Valley, we decided to go for a 2-day mixed (aid and free )ascent of the South Face of Washington Column instead of the originally planned Nose route, which takes 3-4 days for “normal” people.

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The Croatian team

The first big-wall experience was great – we did some aiding, we hauled our stuff up (that part is not so much fun), we slept on the ledge tied to the rope (so you don’t roll over), and met some cool people in the route. There was 7 of us sleeping on the ledge!

The second day we had to wait for 3-4 hours for other parties on the wall before being able to continue with the climb, as popular routes get (really) crowded here. This is unfortunately now very common in Yosemite, and can be a legit reason to bail the climb. And so did we – after a few more pitches of aiding, we realised there is no way we can make it in time to the top of the climb before night, so we rappelled down. On our way down there were 10 more people waiting to do the climb (there was 5 people in the 4th pitch alone). Chose your next routes carefully, echoed in the head.

The next three days we spent just free climbing, or attempting to free climb a few routes. We did two 5.9 multi-pitches, the very aesthetic Absolutely free, where by some luck we were alone all the way. The next day we almost got stuck in the mega crowded Superslide (5.9), where we waited for people, raced past some and tried to enjoy climbing in the whole mess of people – I think there was more than 15 people in this 5 pitch route at once!

The last day we decided to test ourselves in something a bit harder than our current levels. We went to Serenity Crack, a 10 pitch route with multiple 5.10a to 5.10d sections. We got scared, took our very first falls on gear (yikes!:-), aided (this time not because we wanted to), finished the route in the dark, and returned to floor dead beaten but determined – we will be back and free climb this thing! Aiding is fun, and it was very useful for us. We learned a lot about placing and trusting the gear, but free-climbing this perfect hand and finger crack is the proper way to do this climb!

We will be back.

In the meantime, enjoy a few pictures from Viktor (thank god he loves taking photos 🙂

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Vizija

A breath of cool air today in the morning was followed by a usual thought: “Conditions in Mišja must be great now”. Another part of the brain quickly responded: “It doesn’t matter any more”. It still feels like a dream, and I have to say it out loud to believe it: Yesterday I climbed Vizija (8c) in Mišja peč!

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At the top of Vizija. Photo: L. Tambača

Yesterday’s day was crazy. With 28 Celsius in Ljubljana, and my friend Rok feeling sick (thank you Rok for coming along!), we nearly canceled climbing. At the end, we decided to go, and almost turned to Baratro, because of heat. However, some inner feeling and clouds above Primorska region, led us to the parking lot of Miška. At first, it felt perfect, cloudy and cool sea breeze. However, after the first warmup, the clouds cleared and sun hit the rock with full blow. The heat was simply unbearable. I was already saying goodbye to Vizija until the winter, but then, at one moment, the clouds reappeared. At least, I had to give it a try. After a one week of rest from Vizija in Paklenica, I was feeling light&strong, and more importantly – fresh in mind. I made a mistake and feel in the crux, but that feeling of “zone” mindset started to creep in. For the second go, I waited until the very last sun rays of the day. I just barely made it through the crux, and had to fight for life in the rest of the route. At the end, the ascent of Vizija took everything I got, down to the very last atom of energy – just as you would want your hardest climb to feel like 🙂

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In the middle of the crux. Photo: L. Tambača

I have to thank all the friends for words of support and positive energy. When the rumours that I’m close on Vizija spread out, all of a sudden, I started receiving messages of support. Thank you everybody, it means a lot 🙂 I have to quote my experienced friend Lija: “Don’t forget to enjoy the time before ascent, even if it lasts long”. Of course I had to go trough all the phases of a hard redpoint, like anger, frustration and despair. But the words from Lija reminded me to put a smile at the end of a day, and bring home something positive from each visit to Mišja. I was breathing, eating and sleeping with Vizija on my mind for the past two months, and it would be really impossible to endure this process without being positive.

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Vizija is beautiful line, right in the centre of Mišja peč.

Last but not least, this ascent would not be possible without the endless support of my girlfriend Petra. I imagine it’s not easy to live with a totally obsessed climber, but she can sense when the things get serious, and then switches to full support mode. We went numerous times to Mišja before work at ridiculous times, just so that I could give a try or two in the shade. At the end of the April, as Mišja started to feel like an oven, I was ready to stop torturing us, and wait for the winter. But Petra quickly made sure this was out of the question with words: “We will go to Mišja until you climb this thing”. Thank you Petra for being wonderful!

Big thanks goes to our sponsors: Bim Sport d.o.o. and Petzl. Ultra-light Petzl Volta 9.2mm rope was essential to climb up this 30m route, without feeling any rope drag!

I almost forgot to mention, happy birthday bro! What a great timing to climb a route, one day before my brother’s birthday 🙂

Enjoy photo gallery by Luka Tambača – big thanks mate!

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://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: