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IMG_2689What to do during our last day in Croatia was a topic of considerable debate. Should we go for something big and hard, or would we be too tired to make it safely to the airport early the next morning? Taking it easy posed the risk of squandering what very likely would be out last opportunity to climb in Paklenica. Ah, the tough problems of traveling climbers.

In the end, we decided on a compromise- we would climb a long, classic but easy route. That way we wouldn’t be trashed, could move quickly in order to have the afternoon dedicated to packing and traveling toward Zagreb (where we both had flights out the next morning) but still could feel like we parted with Paklenica in a meaningful way.

On that last day, the weather was beautiful as we made our way for the last time up the cobblestone path toward Anića kuk Kuk. Thirty minutes later we were getting ready below the legendary huge carabiner which marks Paklenica’s most popular route-Mosoraški(6a+, 10c.)

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Photos of Paklenica/Anica Kuk

Debeli Kuk

Generally, I don’t have a big issue taking falls on a (relatively safe) sport route. That is certainly not to say that I have a strong head  all of the time, but I’d say I am most confident and comfortable while on the sharp end of a sport-route. My confidence tends to grow when I find the route inspirational or motivational, so I wasn’t really anticipating too many problems in Paklenica, since I was so excited to climb as much as possible. However, for whatever reason I wasn’t able to muster up the somewhat dismal amount of mental armor I protect myself with while climbing during my first few bouts of sport multi-pitch climbing in Paklenica. Perhaps this is because, prior to Croatia, I associated multi-pitch routes with easy to moderate trad climbing; I never really considered falling on a multi-pitch route, except for the few instances when I lead something hard for me at Lover’s Leap in Tahoe over the summer. Although the systems are essentially the same, having my belayer on the wall versus on the ground got to me; for some reason I had some crazy fear that if I fell, since my partner was anchored to the wall and not firmly standing on the ground, it was more dangerous and something out of a horror story would happen.. AKA  my partner’s anchor would explode and send him tumbling to a tragic death.. Since my principal motivation was to combine my ability to give it my all while sport-climbing with the longer days of multi-pitch climbing, I knew that if I were really going to appreciate this trip I needed to get over this completely irrational hesitance and fear. To do this, I needed to get on something hard.

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“You never climb the same mountain twice, not even in memory. Memory rebuilds the mountain, changes the weather, retells the jokes, remakes all the moves.”
(Lito Tejada-Flores)

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More often than not, in my personal experience, if one were to analyze my feelings while climbing a multi-pitch route on a moment-by-moment basis I’m probably not exactly having “fun.” In fact, I may actually be miserable. Sometimes you are cold at a belay station, shivering and dreading leading the next pitch with frozen fingers, other times your skin just hurts and sometimes you have quite a few rappels to go while you are baking on the side of a rock in the summer heat. (I really can’t complain, I haven’t done anything very extreme and don’t mean to make it sound like i have, but I certainly have done my fair share of complaining and what’s the fun of having a blog if you can’t complain a little bit!)

But, the satisfaction of executing a beautiful move well or of topping-out always seems to dull these longer, often drawn out feelings of discomfort and even suffering during which you are vowing to yourself to never climb again so long as you can get yourself out of this situation safely and back to the warm comfort of normal life. (or maybe that’s just me…)

Reflecting on the longer multi-pitch routes that we did in Paklenica is a bit of a biased exercise; I remember the suffering ,but what I really value are those “golden” moments when it is all worth it.

Those “golden” moments stand out most on the routes “50 and life to go” , “Big Wall Speed Climbing” , “Diagonalka” and “Mosoraski”, all of which are classic climbs in Paklenica and on which I had moments of dread and doubt overshadowed by moments of satisfaction, accomplishment and utter joy. Here is the story of one of those routes.
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“Danas penji, sutra stenji – Climbing today, suffering tomorrow”- climbing quote which originated in Paklenica National Park

 

While visiting family, drinking an excess amount of bosanska kafa and traveling the countryside with my Dad was plenty fulfilling and entertaining, thoughts of my next destination were lingering in my mind, feeding off of my growing excitement…

I was itching to head to Paklenica National Park in Croatia to go climbing on the massive limestone walls that up to this point I had only seen in pictures.

Now I have  some pictures (and stories) of my own to share…

Photos of Paklenica/Anica Kuk

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Five days in Yosemite Valley, three days climbing in the Owen’s River Gorge and one glorious coffee at Looney Bean café has created the perfect conditions for a new blog post – exhaustion and wifi.

Now, rewind a month. In Bosnia, all of the research I did concerning local climbing pointed in one obvious direction – Pecka. Pecka is a climbing area near Banja Luka (where I was born!) and about a three hour drive from Sarajevo. Pecka also is the site of an annual climbing festival, hosted by the Bosnian climbing club extremebl (www.extremebl.com) and houses the most potential for future sport climbing development in Bosnia, or so I have read. So, with the help of my father (who chauffered me there from Sarajevo) I thought I would go check out the place for myself. The idea of climbing somewhere so close to where I was born also appealed to my more emotional side, always grasping for the “real” motivation behind my actions- and always overanalyzing everything to try to reveal some sort of “deeper” significance. With my mind a raging torrent of thoughts and motivation, off to Pecka we went!
Photos of Paklenica/Anica Kuk

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The current guiding me in life seems to be pulling me from one adventure to another; I am writing this post from Mammoth Lakes, tired and a little bit too dirty after two good days climbing and camping at Clark Canyon. Still, my trip to Bosnia is still fresh in my mind, including my visit to the climbing area near the small town of Dreznica.

Photos of Paklenica/Anica Kuk

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Sarajevo is a city of contrasts, a city marked by both tolerance and neglect.  Tattered buildings still carrying the scars of war sheepishly face modern out of place buildings glowing at night. The call to prayer rings out from minaretes scattered along the city as others enter synagogues or churches. Apartments are kept tidy and neat while trash floods the street. A small limestone crag filled with motivated climbers lies minutes from an ancient bazaar. Sarajevo was my first stop. IMG_2361 Read More