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.

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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: