Agricantus

For few years now, I’m dreaming of doing an 8a multi-pitch in Anića kuk. So, after finishing the Corrida project, I switched my focus to that. Who would say that only one week after Corrida, I would tick-off this thing as well from my life time list? So, yesterday, I did Agricantus in Paklenica! It’s 200m long route, with 7 pitches: 6c, 5c, 7b, 7b+, 6a, 8a, 7b. You can read below few words about the whole experience.

20160522_183210

We were too busy with climbing, so I only have this blurry photo from the top of Agricantus.

I’m so happy to share another news – Perica finally did some climbing as well. He did Johnny (7a, 200m) in Debeli kuk. And he did it in superb “Huber” style: leading all the pitches onsight. Heck, he even improved the “Huber” style, he had two ladies belaying him 🙂

^C005D9DB4085B536F1BDCF3C6DCA17D10DDA2F58D3394B20AA^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr

I think Perica’s photo is miles better than mine 🙂

About the Spider-Agricantus experience:

On Saturday, with my friend Uroš, we went to try the legendary route Spider in Anića kuk. We were making good progress, but the 8a pitch stopped us, and we retreated. I actually managed to flash all the pitches up to the 8a (2x6c, 7a+, 7c, and 7c+). Also, I came agonizingly close to flash 8a as well. The victory jug was within reach, but I got scared and fell while I was trying to clip the bolt from wrong holds, instead of going for the jug. It’s a bit different when you have 200m of air below your ass :).

I was quite disappointed, only once in a lifetime you get a chance to flash Spider. Well, with 3 more 7b pitches after the 8a, Spider is far from over, and who knows whether I would be able to pull it off. In any case, it would have been an epic fight, and I’m sad I didn’t get a chance to indulge into it.

The next morning, we were both feeling shattered and super tired. However, we went to check Agricantus, with the plan to climb until we were feeling it, and then abseil down. I first checked the route few weeks ago with Siniša Škalec, and wanted to remind myself the moves for a proper try next weekend. The first go in 8a pitch was disaster, just barely climbing from bolt to bolt. However, the next go, something happened and I entered the pit-bull state of mind, and screamed myself Ondra style to the top of the pitch. I hope somebody didn’t call the rescue service :). The whole Spider experience actually helped in this case, during the ascent I had one thought in my head: “F**k it, I let Spider slip away, I will not let this one go”. It’s amazing how far the mind can push the body.

But it was not over yet, there is one more 7b to the top, which I didn’t check before. I’m so lucky I didn’t brake anything off and managed to onsight it. This pitch is horribly fragile. It was an epic onsight, with cramps in my body all over the place. All the suffering was compensated by the beautiful moment, when on the verge of exhaustion, I pulled over the lip, the sun hit my face, and I realized it was over.

Big thanks go to Uroš! I know it was a suffer fest for him when I did the 8a pitch and we had to go to the top. I hope I will be able to return the favour soon!

Thanks people for reading! Stay strong and motivated!

Jurica

P.S.

Power bars are a fraud, Kosana mast (aka Zaseka) rules! Thanks Marjan!

 

Advertisements

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