Paklenica Croatia April 2011.
Last year we’d planned this trip and Ryanair cancelled the flight, which was probably just as well considering the Icelandic volcano, so I was absolutely going to make sure that I went on this trip, 5 1⁄2 moth old baby notwithstanding. It was quite a mission to leave my lad at home with Sarah, and I’ll probably have to pay for it, but it was worth it. Paklenica had some surprises for me. We arrived at Zadar and collected the hire car and brand spanking Audi A4 in gangsta black, which whisked us effortlessly to Starigrad, where we were greeted with beer and pancakes by our lovely Croatian host. The rooms small and functional, I shared with Debbie and Malcolm with Julian. We’d planned on getting a few short routes in on the Monday but time, heat and food changed our plans and we found the local climbers bar, where we had a very garlic local fish, beer and Schnapps, which was more like Italian Grappa.
Tues. 19th Mosoraksi 5c Anica Kuk. 712m.

Mosoraksi

Mosoraksi

We’d planned on a quick look at the main menu, Mosoraksi, a huge 350m route that went at 5c up the right leaning ramp in the photo and at the base, there was no queue, however after a short scramble we found the start, at least 6 were in front, so we decided to wait our turn. The climbers were slow and the wait went on, there were a three one pitch up, and a pair of Belgians, who hat to run back to their apartment, as one had left his shoes behind and another couple ahead. It seemed like a gathering of bimblys, and before we stepped up, three climbers abseiled off after the first pitch, good. One guy didn’t even leave the ground before he backed off and we let the Belgians climb ahead as they only wanted the first pitch, it seemed things were going our way and I hoped the ones up ahead gave up too, not very sporting of me….
Malc was getting impatient and talking of moving to another route, but I encouraged him that we’d be fine… I got the first pitch, just over 50m and two bolts, which was a bit worrying, but a good settler for the rest which would need some nerve. On the first belay one of the three above abseiled off and kindly left me a Mailon, I happily dropped her rope and brought Malc up, who led on.

Malcolm on Mosoraksi

Malcolm on Mosoraksi

We got into a nice rhythm and added a couple of short pitches to the list, and found the two remaining climbers on an overhanging diagonal crack that should have had the alarm bells ringing like mad, as the pitch was supposed to be 4b, hahaha, suckers! They too binned it dislodging a big block while lowering off, which meant we had the line to ourselves, I got into the mountain mindset and was happily leading 40m pitches with very little gear (malc had a rack, not sure if he carried it as I’d not know what to do with it anyway) and soon enough found myself on the Crux pitch at 5c. Now normally I’d tick a 5c sport route without even noticing it, but as Malc had suggested that it was probably about 5a, I pushed on with no worries, until I got to the hard section, a vertical crack/chimney, slightly polished and with a rope a wire and an old cam littering 5m of it. I really can’t remember how I got up it, but it was tricky, terrifying and then just a “fucking Nightmare” in Julian’s words… to which point I ended in a hanging belay, wondering what on earth I was doing, and how was Malcolm going to get up it with the pig on his back… ( Rucksack with boots water and valuables in it ) as we knew the walk off would be long.

Malcolm and Dan on the summit

Malcolm and Dan on the summit

A few more pitches saw us to the top, Malc greeting me with a huge smile and handshake as we topped out on Anica Kuk. Julian and Debbie were supposed to be biting our heels, but more than 2 hours later we were still waiting on the summit as we watched them make their way up the last two pitches. Daylight was fading as we all walked off feeling chuffed that we’d achieved our main objective in the first day as all the others ran away… strange how the rock wasn’t polished above the 5c section….

Beer food, wine and Slibbovich… bed.

Weds 20th : an Early Start…

domazalski

domazalski

Domazalski was the objective, four pitches, 5b 6a 5b 6a, mostly slabby but sharp and contrasting, the First pitch was mine, and with the now familiar high death bolts at the start, we both despatched it with no problems and Malc took the first 6a pitch, straight off the belay it was clearly going to be fun, and Malc moved deliberately up the route and clipped a few bolts, before wobbling and peeling off, with his now familiar squeal, he did lose a bit of ankle skin in the process, managed to fall before getting to the hard move. A small crimp , load it left hand, hang it, swing across to huge ‘hidden’ jug and all over… Malc then led the third leaving me with the last, moving right off the belay, someone was clearly poking fun at us by putting the first bolt five meters out across just out of reach, I tried a number of body positions to make the clip and with my foot wedged heel to toe in the runnel, I clipped and slipped a bit, then

Malcolm on domazalski

Malcolm on domazalski

rested… well I am a sport climber… the rest was easy and very enjoyable. I did admit that the second pitch was harder, so we both hung on the gear on our respective pitches…. Jools and Debbie had a rest day, well they got spanked on a 5a and drank beer…. I tried a horribly polished 6b+ in the main gorge and failed, which was a bit of a shock. Until some Aussie said, “Don’t worry about it Blue, the grades were years ago before a million hands and feet made it like glass, you can add a full grade to all the routes here”

This made me much happier…
Chess with Malc, 1-0 to me… Scrabble… not so successful…
Beer wine Food, beer Slibbovitch beer. More beer…

Thurs 21st : My rest day,

Hugga Wugga

Hugga Wugga

Dan on a 6a

Dan on a 6a

Malc and Debbie wanted to do Hugga Wugga, a three pitch route in the main area, I managed to persuade Jools into putting his harness on, he then decided to lead a route he thought was 5c, turned out to be a touch harder and very spiky and sharp, we realised we’d climbed Potres 6a, which normally would be a nice little warm up, but was quite tricky through the crux, bolts at less than a meter intervals was probably a clue…

We did some sitting about, climbed another 6a Marina, which had a nice crux sequence, Debbie took a rest or two on it, but got there in the end. We all decided that we’d drive down to the Sea and have a dip, Beer and then Scrabble and Draughts, which I’ll never remember who won, Probably Malc, Jools purchased some local vino, for about 16p and was disappointed that it tasted like Petrol and as much as he persevered with it, he had to admit defeat and spend a bit more. We went for Pizza which was good, but a little soggy in the middle, who cares, we were hungry, so much so that we stopped in the usual spot for Pancakes and slibbovich, wine and played spot Alex Huber, who was sat on the next table. It was a short game and I won…
Friday 22nd : Back on Stup.

Malc and I decided to try Karabore, and due to Easter climbers descending on Paklenica like flies round my Evolvs, the campsites bulging to the brim, we had to get up early, sadly there were already 4 climbers on the route, so we switched to Pero, harder and it was really worth it. 5c 5c 5b then the top pitch of Karabore 5a, the first pitch nice and technical, solid and sharp, the second, a real joy, and the third, my lead, one of the most enjoyable routes I’ve climbed threading across enormous paper thin stuck on flakes, the final pitch was really nice too, I just followed Malcs blood spots… the Abseil point was crowded and we managed a quick borrow of the abb rope which was long enough to combine the two, I could smell the alloy burning when I got to the base…

We returned to find Jools and Debbie had binned Domzalski, Jools failed to make the crux and also 8 people joining them at the belay…. patience? No one had any except us in the end…
Finally, I thought one more line, a lovely route Zima at 5c+ felt quite easy, as it should, besides Debbie had put 2 clips in and backed off, or chickened out, hehe, so I had to get my gear back. It’s been far too long since I enjoyed climbing as much as I did in Paklenica, the company and the shared objectives, the luck and the patience that paid off. I must go back and do more. Maybe I’ll use some of that trad gear, but to be honest, I’ll just clip the bolts and try not to fall off, seems to have worked so far…. it’s all in the mind anyway.. Isn’t it?
Finally our hostess, came to say goodbye with a big plateful of Apple Strudels just out of the oven, we had more wine, beer and went back to the airport in our Gangsta Audi, which would have suited Mr J, but not sure the climbing would have…
Cheers - Julian - malcolm - Debbie - Dan

Cheers - Julian - malcolm - Debbie - Dan

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