Aaaand... finally we hit the road! I was really looking forward to the journey itself because this time, we had our own transport (car provided by my father, my longest time sponsor :)) and the trip was going to take us down south to the Balkan. I haven't seen much of the land that all used to be Yugoslavia back in the day, and I was always missing this because it is in a way still part of our culture. On a related note, our parents still speak good serbo-croatian while I would preferably speak English to somebody from ex-Yugoslavia when I couldn't express myself in Slovenian.Anyway we decided to make a pit-stop in Belgrade for the first taste of the Balkan. Kafa jebomajku!
Izi a.k.a. Zupanator needs no introduction, we have climbed together on trips countless times. Number one guy to make your trip fun and unpredictable.
Jakob Šparovec, kind of keeping under the radar but always climbing hard stuff in the eight grade. Together we did the Ceuse and Fontainebleau trip last year which was some good times!
We crossed the Danube and drove the winding road uphill into Baile Herculane (The Herculean Baths). It is a historic town famous for its baths set in old Roman (?) architecture. The post-communist ownership issues have left much of the old buildings un-restored and they are slowly falling apart. Next to them, huge hotels dominate the skyline that were built in the communist era to expand on the mass tourism.
|Hercules in front of an old town building|
On both sides of the valley there's rock faces promising some good climbing. The Cascada Venturatorea is the best sport crag and that's where the Petzl team has focused most of their bolting. The area has been under constant development by the Romanian climbers, but due to its location (far from Bucharest and other towns), it has been rather slow.
|Mr. Fabian Buhl, better known as a boulderer, tied in to send this classic 8a tufa line in Surplomba sector|
Anyway there's lots of potential, at least in the Veturatorea crag. The first edition of the topo has been published this year by AlternativeTM. The bottom line for me, though, is: the climbing is good but not exceptional, its the hot baths that make the trip here worth it!
|the impressive 100+ meter tall Vanturatorea|
|Izi flashed this 8b right after the Petzl team athletes|
|this is me on Strength and Honour, an 8a in the right part of the crag|
Now the Roctrip caravan continues its journey in Vratsa, Bulgaria. We got stuck in Baile Herculane for another day after massive rainfall caused floods that pretty much blocked the way out. Romania has no highways... We agreed this is one thing Ceausescu should have looked into while he was building the post-war Romania.
Hopefully we can make it to Vratsa today. I am psyched for more climbing. The places there look VERY promising. More and more people will be joining the trip. The forecast says sunny. Let's go!