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 :).

 

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:

Meeting with the greats

Last week both Levatić brothers visited 9th Mountain Film Festival Domžale, where we went to hear and meet two true legends of the sport. Let’s go in order of appearance:

Lynn hill

Legendary climber Lynn Hill from America had a lengthy lecture about her life as a climber (and lately as a mother), in which she covered all her periods of life – from risky trad climbing beginnings to competitions, TV fame, then sport climbing achievements, to the ultimate – first person ever to free climb the famous route Nose in Yosemite. Now being a mother, she is still involved in the climbing world, giving lectures and doing appearances in Petzl roc trips.

She covered a lot of ground with the lecture, showing quite a few rare photos, and even mentioning she was earning more money from climbing back in the day than the pros of today – she managed to buy a house in France and pay for the expensive education in America all with only climbing.

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Levatić brothers with Lynn Hill. What a moment!

Lecture left me with a strong desire for a long one-on-one conversation about climbing and life in general with Lynn. She really has a lot to tell, and an hour plus of lecture is too short to convey her greatness – which is probably only matched by her simplicity and approachability.

More about Lynn:
Lynn Hill website
Interview (in Slovenian language)

Maurizio Manolo Zanolla

As he is called in Italy, Il Mago is a man from different era than today, both in climbing terms and as a human. He is a type of man who will no longer come by, and even his stance while waiting for the lecture to begin – is different and old school. He was born and raised in the far mountains, and in his early climbing photos he looks more like a caveman than a climber, being somewhat strange compared to our shiny pros of today.

The most fascinating fact about this man is that he achieved his peak in his 50s – he climbed the hardest grades in the world (8b+) in the 80s, and then pursued other climbing and outdoor activities. Then in 2000s, intrigued by the simple question “Where are my limits?”, he went out to seek them. And found them he did – he climbed 9a on a pure slab at 51 years of age, along with a list of other hard ascents.

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Il Mago sharing his magic!

Maybe the best explanation of this man is a simple fact that the answer to the question “What motivated you to seek your personal best at 50 years of age?” from the audience (asked of course by us) is the fact that his answer lasted for a good 15 minutes – and it would probably be going on all night had he not realized there are other people with questions waiting.

During the lecture, words often used by Manolo were creativity and curiosity, both of which are beautiful things to drive a man (or woman) forward. Climbing is an immediate creative experience – once you step foot on a rock the puzzle starts. Somebody can tell you how to put the pieces together, or you can try the pieces by yourself, or you can even create the puzzle by yourself – but the creative part is always there with climbing.

More about Manolo:
Video story of Manolo’s ascent of Eternit (9a)

Conclusion

Meeting and listening to such great personalities of our sport was inspiring, and quite worthwhile. Impressions I got from both were that their motivation for climbing was first and foremost personal, and internal.  They were both grateful and very approachable, and interested in people around them.

It was an honour to witness the simplicity of greatness in this exceptional man and woman, two traits which don’t really come together that often.

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:

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.

The first 50

Few days ago I climbed a route named Independence (8a+) in a small crag Preddvor near Ljubljana. According to my 8a.nu profile, this is my 50th route in the 8th grade! I’m mathematician, so I should know that numbers ending with zero are equally (non)interesting as the ones which don’t end with zero, but nevertheless, it’s nice to achieve such milestone.

I will post the list of routes below if somebody is interested. When going through the routes  in my head, I still remember most of the moves on every single one.  Once a geek, always a geek :).

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A route which is not on the list, but I hope it will be one day – Chuck Norris (8?). It’s the only one missing from my Pokojec tick-list. Initially graded 8a+ by Čorko – it took me 3 years to do the moves. Foto: L. Tambača

P.S. Careful reader might notice that the other counterpart of the Levatić bros is missing in the last few posts. Well, Perica was preparing like a mad man for the BWSC this year, and he burned all the gas in the tank of motivation. But, he is back on track now, psyched & training hard. So, stay tuned for the new adventures from the Levatić bros. We have a couple of (crazy) ideas emerging in our minds, now all we need is a firm rakija-driven hand shake to start bringing them to life.

The list:

2007

1. Rosna Ljubičica (8a), Pokojec, 5.7.2007.
2. Guernica (8a), Kotečnik, 7.7.2007.

2008

3. Urbanova (8a), Mišja peč, 16.3.2008.
4. Mala sirena (8a/a+), Pokojec, 10.5.2008.
5. Kill Bill (8b), Pokojec, 11.9.2008.
6. Samsara (8a), Mišja peč, 7.12.2008.

2009

7. Giljotina (8a), Mišja peč, 23.1.2009.
8. Čao bejbe (8a), Mišja peč, 22.3.2009.
9. Every hole is a good hole (8a/a+), Kalnik, 6.6.2009.
10. Hooker (8a+), Golobove pečine, 12.7.2009.
11. Genom (8a), Vela stiniva, 24.7.2009.
12. Jurek&Maca (8a), Vranja peć, 5.8.2009.
13. Zagorski tarzan (8a+), Pokojec, 3.9.2009.

2010

14. Mjesečina (8a+), Pokojec, 9.5.2010.
15. Rumpel štilski (8a), Pokojec, 7.7.2010.
16. Bruchheinzi (8a), Peggauer wand, 13.10.2010.
17. Oxa (8a), Pokojec, 30.10.2010.

2011

18. Mrtvaški ples (8b), Mišja peč, 30.1.2011.
19. Huda čudovišta (8a, FA), Vranja peć, 24.2.2011.
20. Albanski konjak (8a), Mišja peč, 26.2. 2011.
21. Gorilko (8a), Vranja peć, 31.5.2011.
22. Anthrax (8a), Zia, 24.9.2011.
23. Enigma (8b, FA), Pokojec, 28.9.2011.
24. Prste lomim živci mi krvare (8a), Pokojec, 11.10.2011.
25. Marmots at work (8b), Pandora, 23.12.2011.

2012

26. Snoop Boggi Direkt (8a), Pandora, 9.4.2012.
27. Winnetou (8a), Paklenica, 15.4.2012.
28. Paštašuta (8a/a+), Vranja peć, 29.4.2012.
29. Psiho (8a), Pokojec, 25.5.2012.
30. Kompresor (8a, FA), Pokojec, 13.6.2012.
31. Specijalist za življenje (8a+), Kotečnik, 24.7.2012.
32. Disleksija (8a+, FA), Pokojec, 21.9.2012.

2013

33. Corto (8a), Mišja peč, 30.5.2013.
34. SPK Direkt (8a), Čuturaševa peć, 9.6.2012.
35. Che Guevara (8a), Bitnje, 6.7.2013.
36. Modern art (8a), Goltschach, 11.7.2013.
37. Ledena doba (8a), Čreta, 18.9.2013.
38. Sonce v očeh (8a+), Mišja peč, 13.10.2013.
39. Reve de papillon (8a), Buoux, 5.11.2013.

2014

40. Es ist vollbracht (8b+), Pandora, 17.1.2014.
41. Los compadres de puta madre (8a/a+), Paklenica, 5.4.2014.
42. Ženska za nagrado (8a), Bohinjska bela, 20.5.2014.
43. Pune bombe v ovinek (8a+), Čreta, 3.6.2014.
44. Pravi muži (8a+, FA), Vranja peć, 28.6.2014.
45. Placcoman (8a), Barratro, 16.7.2014.
46. Gojzr party (8a+), Ter, 9.7.2014.
47. Chiquita (8a), Mišja peč, 22.7.2014.
48. Iglu (8a), Mišja peč, 11.9.2014.
49. Alexander (8a), Goltschach, 28.9.2014.
50. Independence (8a+), Preddvor, 30.9.2014.

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: