Corrida

It happened today, I climbed Corrida, my second 8c! Of course, the route is located in the temple of climbing – Mišja peč. It was almost exactly one year ago, when I did my first 8c. It seems other people’s off-season in Mišja is my season in Mišja 🙂

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The crux move of Corrida. Photo. Luka Tambača.

This time, the path to success was a bit easier, especially from the mental aspect, but still it was a bumpy one. Again, I had to go into full on projecting mode, obsess over the route, lose some weight and pilgrimage to Mišja peč few times a week for a couple of months. I even stopped eating sweets for 2 months!

However, since I went through similar process last year, this time I was better mentally prepared for all the tricks Corrida has prepared for me. For example, one day I fell 0.5m from the anchor, then the next two or three visits to Mišja, I was nowhere near that point. What a mind fuck! But, I knew it’s just a natural rhythm, you cannot operate at you maximum all the time. It happened in Vizija as well. Just be patient, and you will arrive at your high-point again. And indeed, eventually I fell again 0.5m from the anchor. Then once more. Then once more 0.25m from the anchor. Then once more in the lower crux… Today I finally managed to stay relaxed enough, not get over-excited when pulling through the last moves, and clip the anchor. Actually, I felt quite solid, with still some gas left in the tank at the top.

In retrospect, I was probably pushing it too far, often going to Mišja peč when the body was not rested enough, and more importantly, when the mind was not fresh. Each try required 100% focus, and it’s not easy to push the body and mind to their limits day in, day out, for weeks. Eventually, the brain will start to scream “Not again!”. Trying the route at your limit will stop to be fun at one point, but I’ve learned that, rather than giving up, you have to overcome that barrier. The success is usually very near on the other side of it. Sometimes it’s not. But anyway, are we here to have fun, or to send hard routes? 🙂

At the end of the day, I’m really grateful to be in this position, living 1 hour away from Mišja peč (and a ton of other great crags), and having a flexible job which allows to escape to climbing at odd times. And most of all, I’m grateful for having a loyal (climbing) partner. It would not be possible without Petra, and her endless support. Recently, she also send her big project: Rodeo, her first 7a! It’s the first pitch of Corrida, so it was really nice experience to project the route together. Sometimes she was even more psyched to go to Mišja than I was. Try to find a girlfriend like that!

As always, author of the photos is Luka Tambača. If there is no Luka, who likes taking photos as much as he likes climbing, most probably me (and better part of Croatian climbers) would’t have any nice climbing photos. You can check his work here: http://lukatambaca.com/.

Hmm… now the question is, whether to eat that chocolate cake, or to find a new project while I’m still fit? I guess I know the answer. Who likes chocolate anyway? 🙂

Thanks for reading people!

Jurica

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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 :).

 

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

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 :).

Chuck norris

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: