the adventure continues:- the wilds of Croatia open our eyes wide….

We left Split yesterday morning and headed for our next destination, Paklenica National Park and a little town called Stari Grad. This beautiful little place is located right on the shoreline of the Adriatic. It was to be our home for the next five days. We had an apartment booked and we were looking forward to going climbing  a lot.

We were scrolling through the guidebook just simply checking out the lay of the land and realised that there was no Paklenica section. We soon realised this is a separate guidebook and we would have purchase an additional one to climb in the park. So we decided to use the one we had and go climbing somewhere else for the first journey out this morning. Karine said she wanted to do a multi-pitch route as she had not yet done one, so we decided on a route and sorted out our plans.

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The Route……..

It was going to be hot today and we knew we needed lots of water and sustenance to maintain our energy. The route we had chosen was called “Slapovica” 5a. This amazing looking line started at the lowest point of this incredible formation that looked like the top of a perfect ice cream cone. It was an easy line but for both of us it would be an adventure together that we had yet to experience.

Part of the fun with adventures is finding the place. There are a number of factors that come into play. Vague information, foreign country and time. We took a wrong turn off the “highway” and ended up at someones house on top of a hill. they were very helpful and guided us to where we were headed. Finally locating the right hand turn down the dirt road we were on our way to our destination.

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Walking in along the gas pipeline road provided a beautiful vista…

Parking in the lay-away on the side of this narrow road and gearing up, the temps had started to soar. The walk-in was only about 15 minutes, but it was very much uphill and down dale to the designated area. It was a beautiful area with an alpine feel about it, the smells and the flora and fauna were all reminiscent of the high mountains. There are bears in Croatia and I was aware of this but not panicked.

At the base of the route we geared up and prepared for our journey into the vertical for a couple of hours. I said to Karine “just enjoy yourself and take your time.” I set off up the first pitch excited and  with no expectation of what was to come other than a little adventure. The first pitch was over in about four minutes for me. It was 25 metres of very straight forward scrambling. Karine followed me up about five minutes later.

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Pitch two was the main pitch and we talked about the slightly overhanging bulge that was about 15 metres above us. It was a well bolted pitch and didn’t appear to be overly strenuous. I set off again and headed up, looking back down I could see K smiling and it was wonderful. She was having fun and thats what its all about. I arrived at the next set of anchors and setup. The view was really starting to improve and the surrounds were glorious.

I looked up and there were more anchors about ten metres up, so I decided that linking pitches three and four would make for less work and improve our time overall as it was now 30 degrees celsius and there was no shade anywhere at all. The base of the route was bare as was the surrounding grassland.

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Topping out……..exhilarating!!

As I clipped the anchors at the absolute peak of the ice cream cone I felt a sense of happiness that I had not had for quite sometime. Climbing hard routes is one thing (believe me i love it), but standing high above the ground staring out across the mountains is a truly sensual and inspiring feeling.

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Karine joined me, completing her first multi-pitch and we sat there and looked out for a while just to appreciate where we were and how fortunate we are to be able to do the things we do. This was another first for us in our continuing story.

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When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view.

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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