Thursday, December 18, 2014

The 8c+!

it's only rock, right?
Histerija happened too quickly. After trying it last year I imagined one day that I would get to work on it, it would still be a major challenge. Two weeks ago, on my third day of trying it, things were aligning up. It kept feeling better and better with every try and having entered a great "zone" mindset, I was able to finish it off. It took a while for it to set in fully. I am definitely riding the wave right now! Each new grade breakthrough is only good to remind you of how it's all relative, depending on your perception. Impossible can go to feeling incredibly doable in a matter of tries, changing weather, changing attitude...

 I thought my climbing has matured past seeing only the numbers. But sending it felt great also because it suddenly struck me - nevermind suited or non-suited style, conditions, grades being subjective, whatever - climbing a grade harder is possible. On top of it, this route has character, and it is one of my favourites in Mišja - a true wonder of nature.

 Like we always seem to follow some natural flow of things, I love it when a new surge of motivation for certain climbing appears. Mišja Peč felt like home during the last month. We've made many day trips, trying to go as often as possible, coming back late in the evening, riding my bike back home through the foggy Ljubljana, studying late in the night. During the week, the crag is populated only by the committed, everyone feels familiar and there's a sending atmosphere. "A muerte" is the mode of operation. The sun down by the seaside is like a resort from the real life in Ljubljana. It's a privilege to be able to go climbing.

entering the crux in Popolni mrk
I'm now working on a new project. I got stuck into Popolni mrk, 8c, right after I finished Histerija. The line has a notorious reputation and it hasn't had that many repeats. It's crimpy, nails, and right at the limit of my strength. Face climbing normally suits me, but not when holds get that small.
10 tries into working it, its becoming a mind battle, and I like it like that. It's going to taste that sweeter afterwards :)

 I've been thinking a lot about how a general attitude towards life is reflected in your climbing, especially your redpointing. When it gets really hard, believing it's possible is the key. Depending on your patience, ability to contemplate and rationalise failiure, you will adopt a certain redpointing tactics and a "bubble" of excuses and reasons why you still haven't done the project. I'm finding out that with most of my hard redpoints that also give me a mindfuck game, it's all about taking a step back, stopping wishing to do it so bad and then doing it in a moment of perfect, clear focus. As if the world wanted you to slow down, stop being so damn obsessed with whatever it is you're driven by, realise it's all a product of your mind and then things becoming so much clearer and sensible.

 However, the obsession is pretty strong with me right now. Spain countdown says 7 days. I don't want to jinx it, but I feel I could climb some pretty cool stuff :D

 I enjoyed hosting Felix and Maria last week. Felix is Julien's brother and it was great to have them over. I love sharing the psyche for our home crags and giving visiting people a tour. It was also great to see Lea and Quentin crushing big time in our and Istrian crags.

Felix and Maria sampling our classics

Thanks to all that made the last month in Mišja Peč feel so nice. Thanks to Luka Tambača for being there and taking pictures. Thanks for reading, keep the spirit alive y'all!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pakla zauvijek

My new found psyche for big walls drove me to Paklenica again. I was well psyched for the upcoming extended week-end. I knew many people were going there because right now is a traditional period which offers prime conditions for routes in Anića Kuk. I jumped on the ride with Jerry who is a bit of my menthor when it comes to many things in climbing. Anyway, I knew this was going to be fun.

A visit to Kompanj on Thursday kind of set me up for the weekend. A close try in an 8b onsight (which I managed on redpoint later) and testing out a fresh pair of Miuras (this time a bigger size) made me look forward to Paklenica. Yaay, I'm still fit PLUS my feet won't fall off at the end of the weekend. Let's go then!

The scene was quite alive! There was a lot of people, but mostly mountain climbers who make a visit to  Paklenica for a change to the alpine climbing. It's a group of people equally as big as the sport climbers in Slovenia, but obviously a bunch of people I don't know so it was pretty cool to get to meet some. Mountain guides, 8k meter peak summitters, adventurers of a different kind than my sport climbing friends. They still have the same attitude towards partying, or maybe even a more hardcore one :)

The first day with Samo we climbed Kaurismakis mistake with, a "modern classic" route with nice sustained difficulties in the 6th grade with a crux 7a+ pitch. It was a nice warm-up for the weekend to come.

The second day I teamed up with Anže Klarič, my buddy from PCL. We climbed Zenit which must be one of the best routes of the whole wall. The three top pitches are incredible climbing on perfect rock with a finishing arete-and-mantle to top out that I kept describing to everyone willing to listen. Anže didn't free it but could easily do in the next visit, go for it dude!
Klarič seconding the top 6c pitches
setting off for the 7a traverse pitch

best arete pitch of the wall! right under the top

The third day I teamed up with my Croatian (actually a Slovenian undercover) friend and photographer Luka Tambača to try one of the routes on his ticklist. We aimed for Rumeni strah, a respected route with a crux 7c slab pitch.

Tambolina seconding one of the difficult and hard-graded crack pitches

 It stood its reputation, some of the pitches were nails given their grade, but somehow I managed to get that 7c pitch in the bag onsight. It wasn't over yet, next I climbed a 6a crack with a 20m runout (note to self: it's wise to bring gear sometimes) and got a bit scared, thus getting the full package! Ain't no better thing than topping out after a route like that!

me cleaning the 7c pitch after a successful onsight

shot with a cellphone - in the hands of a pro, thanks Luka :D

Climbing with different partners every day was cool. Each route was different in this sense, too. Big ups to everyone who was there, this was a weekend well spent! Also cheers to my Croatian friends, thanks for the hospitality :) I love to come back...
I'm dreaming up my next objectives, caught between short term plans and other things in life that need to be done, unable to come up with a big long term plan. Brid klina and Spider are on the all-time ticklist now, I'm only looking for somebody to join me! Verdon, the limestone slab multipitch Mecca is waiting, too... Waaaah too much to do! Thanks for reading, until next time, Pinti

the summit chill-out

Monday, October 13, 2014

Paklenica revisited

it all started with this, more than 10 years ago
After having done some multipitching in the past few months, I realized I wanted to do more of it. Paklenica has been on my list for some time now. I kept recalling flashes of what was probably my first climbing trip back in 2000 something?, I was probably age 8, and Celjski stup felt so high and exposed. Words like "Anića Kuk", "Velebitaški" and so on was on everyone's lips but I didn't really know what it was all about. I probably didn't even make the short approach path to see the big wall of Aniča Kuk.

Anića Kuk, north wall

Stepping outside your comfort zone has become a cliche by now, but we all know this is truly what we seek. I realized sport climbing doesn't always give me that thrill anymore. It's just hard to get into that perfect mode, conditions, physical shape... things have to align for one to send really hard and sometimes I end up doing moderates I already know I can do.
Paklenica really is a playground big wall, it's so well protected the fear factor is not that big in most routes. But the exposure is still here, the wall of Aniča Kuk is majestic and it takes some effort to climb it, enough to make the beer taste awesome in the evening,

setting off for a day in the big wall
When Kruder came up with the idea, I had already decided.
The first day we aimed high and took on one of the wall three hardest sport routes, Cupido. It features sustained climbing in the upper sixth grade with a crux technical 7b pitch and an 8a pitch, going through a gentle overhang.
The climbing was amazing. Feeling the air beneath, working hard, precise footwork on perfect limestone.
belay selfie :)

Kruder was able to cruise through the 8a pitch on his second attempt, while I came super close after trying really, really hard. It was a bit disappointing to be that close, but unable to claim the ascent, but I didn't care that much. With quite a few difficult, technical pitches still to go, in the end I was happy to stand on the summit, feeling totally worked with sore feet and crushed skin.
Kruder setting off for the 8a pitch
ouuhhh... this slab was a tough one!

The second day, we felt less confident and opted for an easier but apparently even more beautiful line. "Black magic woman" features 350m of great climbing in 5th and 6th grade and then a deciding 7b+ pitch in a nicely exposed arete, just under the top of the wall. I put my slab skills to use and managed to onsight the pitch. The climbing reminded me a lot of Ceuse, the beauty of the ambient too.
the great wall of Aniča Kuk (source:
Jumping in the pond beneath the wall was the cherry on top for this short trip. We had dinner at Dinko's with the nice crew from Celje and returned back to reality. Big ups to Kruder you strong bastard, we should do this again. Peace out folks :)

contemplation times at the belays

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Petzl Roctrip: The epilogue

Prilep panorama by Sam Bie

"Dude, I tell you, Balkan is the future" exclaims my friend Izi looking at me ecstatically. We are in Prilep and he had just tried the route he bolted the previous day and we are all feeling the excitement in the air. Rock everywhere, virgin rock, waiting to be climbed, no crowds, no polish, the rock is our playground. Find your line, clean it, figure out the moves, break holds, work hard on it, make vision come true.
Izi scoping up what later became "Punchline", now awaiting the FA. Maybe in the next expedition?

The Roctrip was a great opportunity. Travelling by my own, I would have never went to see that many different places by myself. The caravan created a unique, true roadtripping atmosphere and it was nice to discover these places with other people. Some sort of campground was provided in every stage and I was keen to jump back into the tent lifestyle. Reducing your daily routine to brushing teeth in the morning and evening and that's it... I love that. Our ride was a mess, however, but I didn't care. We would sort it out when we get back home (many thanks to my father for making this whole journey possible by lending us the car!).
As far as I know this is the aim of the Roctrip. Bring climbing into a yet undeveloped spot with great potential and plant the seed for the symbiosis - the local tourism and happy climbers from all over the world. Petzl is managing a visionary effort. It's a new age "climbing colonialism" in a totally good way. At every stage we met local climbers who told us more about each spot, its development and showed us around. All were really psyched about the Roctrip visiting - it really is an opportunity to showcase cool crags and put them on everybody's map.

Back to Izi. "I want all of this stuff bolted man. I'll keep coming back here until the job is done." The guy's motivation is endless, and sometimes overwhelming. He makes the usual climbers' rant about worn out fingertips look like a baby crying. Well, he's one of those I call climbing terrorists. But his psyche is infectious, and that is something I like most about a climbing partner.

The line he bolted goes through a huge overhang on a wall higher up from Balvanija, facing Dabnica below. It's a 25 metre sport route with great, diverse, powerful moves on huge slopy blocks and undercuts, something very exciting for us, having grown up on the limestone of Osp. After a while trying it I started to realize this is the kind of stuff we read about in magazines and so. It just reminded me so much of this route "Ganesh" in Badami, India that I kept looking at in the poster above my bed as a kid. So... is this like "we're living the dream"?  Maybe... Above all we are having a blast. A few days before that I caught a cold that drained my energy for climbing and exploring. Trying this route was a surge of psyche that finally cured me up. "Punchline" is now awaiting its' first ascent.
Izi in the bottom section

the crux is passing the few moves beneath the bulge

we tried it a lot...

In the evening, all was quiet. The caravan had left Prilep for Meteora. We would begin our return to Slovenia the next day. We quietly ate dinner and went to bed. I loved feeling my muscles sore again and fell asleep content. We were climbing amazing stuff and all was good in the world.

nearing the top with Prilep in the backdrop
We didn't head straight home, though. We went to see Mavrovo, a place in the west part of Macedonia where apparently "a futuristic cave" is being developed. We had lots of fun climbing there with Miha, Klemzy and Tanja.
The crag truly is quite futuristic! I accidentaly got on a project bolted by Klemen Bečan and experienced what climbing in the future will look like... respect to Klemen for bolting this. By the way, have you seen his new EpicTV video? He's known for a while the Balkan really is the future :)
the cave is not the only thing worth bolting in Mavrovo - there is lots of potential

shower! yeeee

the crag from below

We didn't send anything notable but it was fun trying all the routes without knowing what grades they are or their names. Everyone tried a route and then we compared what we would grade the climbs.

We split the journey back, took the opportunity and stopped in Niš to visit Slobodan Gejo and his wife Vesna and taste some climbing in Serbia. Everybody knows Slobodan, he's the father of Staša who is a very successful comp climber and a good friend of ours. They made our short stay very pleasant and memorable. They live right at the entry to the small canyon called Jelašnica which holds some of the best of Serbia's sport climbing. It is nice mostly vertical, grey limestone climbing in a miniature-Verdonesque setting. The day we climbed here was perfect, cloudy with a slight breeze. The leaves are changing colours and we enjoyed climbing in the smell of early autumn.

Dodaj napis
Me and Jakob had a gentle warm-up on Mono-lit, a 100m 7a max multipitch leading up a face which is literally 500metres away from Slobodan's house.
Later we repeated the testpiece "Starscream" 8a+ and made friends with some Belgrade climbers. In the evening we ate pasulj, drank rakija and listened to Slobodan's incredible stories from Africa and Himalaya. Having summitted Everest and as a local climbing legend, he has many up his sleeve...

mr. Izi on Starscream

Siciljanac 8a+
Many thanks to Slobodan and Vesna for their true hospitality! It was a cherry on top after the whole trip.

Besides that shout out to Izi and Jakob for coming along on this great trip! 
To Petzl for making it all come alive! I wish I take part in another Roctrip one day :) the trip shows the true face of the people involved in the company. It (and the climbing community) is still small enough that the people in charge of everything are at the same time people who are the most passionate about their sport, and at the Roctrip everyone comes together like a big family.
To everyone joining the trip who I met, and especially to the BELGIAN team you crazy nutters :)
and Miha Jarm and Joži Pavlič who are followin the trip all the way to Antalya, read about their adventure here.
To Klemzi, Tanja, Pope for dinners and some good times spent hanging out in Mavrovo.
To Treking šport, the Petzl retailer in Slovenia who supported us and allowed us to take part in the trip.
To Iglu šport who has supported me with some La Sportivas :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Petzl Roctrip: the birth of a king line

Prilep is becoming a world class bouldering spot. The Petzl Roctrip stopping here is a landmark opportunity that is about to truly put the place on everyone's must-go map. Along with the occasion of the first official guide publishing, it's all coming together. Rok Šisernik, the leader of the first expedition here and Slovenian climbing legend would have been proud to see the place blooming now. Having tragically passed away in 2011, we can see this as a monument to his endless drive and passion to push climbing forward. The vision remains!

A lot has been developed and people are strolling deeper in the woods to find new good looking blocks of granite, waiting to be cleaned and climbed. Yet sometimes a king line awaits right in front of us. Maybe it's by coincidence, maybe it's waiting for the one strong climber who will see the potential line and have the balls to do it.

Miha Hribar and Izi scoped such a line on the Maršal block yesterday. It has previously been put aside due to a serious landing and exposed, high climbing. This time my friends were looking for that extra bit that will make the new ascent a real king line.

We got to work today, we cleaned the landing of bushes and Izi and Enzo ticked the holds, brushed away the moss and made sure the holds are solid, not breaking during an attempt.

We stacked a lot of pads to try and secure the fall. It was still engaged and serious as hell. In the evening, everything was set for the First Ascent..

David Firnenburg was on a streak today. On top climbing form from the previous competitions, he was quickly repeating Prilep's hard classics on his first day here - Velika Smetka 8a flash and Batman, 8a in a few goes.

A crowd of observers and spotters gathered to watch the breathtaking ascent. David was looking strong and everything was under control. We tried our best to protect it but a fall from the top could still be serious.

It's name yet unknown, the problem is rumoured to be around the 8A mark. It's now awaiting a repetitor, someone strong and bold enough!

David setting off
... and claiming the first ascent of a king line!

Let's see what else happens in our short stay here! Stay tuned for more news and also the movie that is being made by Petzl, which will include footage of David's ascent!

A big thanks once again to my sponsors Iglu Šport and Treking Šport - Petzl Slovenia who made this trip possible!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Petzl Roctrip stage 2: Vratsa

walls of Vratsa in the morning sun

"Can you see the third bolt?" my friend Alexis is yelling from below. I'm overgripping the small edges partly out of fear and partly due to hands sweating in the sun. A foothold just crumbled away almost making me fall. And I'm only ten metres off the ground.
I'm thinking fast but I know my judgement is pre-conditioned by the circumstances, my physiological state. The last two days we have spent sitting out the bad weather and psyche was high to go climbing again. In the morning, we were sitting at the camp enjoying the morning idleness and pouring endless coffee that is now making my heart beat faster than I'd like it to. When Alexis suggested doing "Terminator" - 7a, 200m, I was instantly psyched. That's why I now feel I'm risking more than I should, given my big wall experience... I would have retreated earlier if I wasn't that psyched.
The guidebook we have is very exhaustive, but one should never rely solely on it. In our case, it said some cams and nuts are needed to better protect the route. Hmm... ok. I've done this before - once. I can see a jug-like feature that could take a big-size nut. I fiddle the set of nuts around and manage to get one in.
"Do you trust it? Better test it well!" I don't trust it much so I'm definitely keen to test it, I'm feeling nervous and I pull on it violently with both hands, fuck the ethics I need something reassuring right now. The nut pops and I come flying down. finally stopping with my feet touching the grass while Alexis slowly lowers down from the first bolt. "Err... this was a good start."

After finding the line, we somehow managed the first pitch. Pitch 2 offered more engaged climbing on crumbly rock but was easier. After more messing around with gear we reached a ledge after the second pitch which felt like heaven. Due to having spent so much time on the first two pitches, we ran out of time to complete the route and rappelled down from the fourth belay, leaving two pitches on top undone but still feeling happy we have pushed that far after all the epics.

We were stupid, inexperienced, this route wouldn't have posed a problem if we knew what to expect. The climbing was well below my limit, all under control, but the crumbly rock made it very engaged.
However, I was super psyched we had done that. Experience was the best teacher in this case, and the bigger than usual dose of adrenaline and fear made our eyes glow in the evening and the dinner taste incredible. Moreover, the big wall just reaffirmed my wish to do more of this stuff in the future. It's so exciting to discover that - I sometimes feel my sport climbing is somewhat stuck around some projects and not really progressing, so doing something different is refreshing.

Alexis doing the nina caprez

The rest of the days in Vratsa we spent doing some sport climbing in the incredible rock of the Stinite Stegi sector. Vratsa didn't disappoint us in terms of quality of climbing, and apparently we didn't even get to see the best of it (the cool overhanging sectors were wet due to heavy rainfall the previous days).

Izi on an 8b in Stinite Stegi, thanks to Sam Bie for the photo!

Alexis in Stinite Stegi, pic by Sam Bie

We are now well immersed in the Petzl Roctrip vibe, and it's all getting more and more exciting. After a short stop in Rila (Bulgaria) - we cut it short due to bad weather - we are now in Prilep (Macedonia), a place very dear to us. The boulder fields above the town offer a great climbing experience. There is so much potential, it's really a boulderer's playground - just pick a line and clean it and have fun.
Anyone that's taken part in an expedition here knows what I'm talking about. We are excited to show the people around the place. The first official guidebook of the place is fresh out of print and the authors, Miha Hribar, Joži Pavlič and Miha Jarm are here with us. Check out if you want to know more about it!

Prilep WE'RE HERE!

More on Prilep and rest of the Petzl Roctrip later, now let's go climb some boulders! KULA SHEIKA BULA :)!