After nearly ten years of climbing across five continents with hundreds of different people on many types of geological formations, I guess I have developed a fair amount of good technique and a somewhat varied skill set when it comes to the sport I love. This is not an exaggerated view of myself but more a reasonable assessment of developed awareness.
Climbing in Croatia has been a truly humbling experience, particularly the Paklenica National Park.
The short slabby sports routes are super polished and your feet have to be perfectly placed to execute even the simplest of moves on these technical and sometimes run out vertical excursions.
Shallow water droplet pockets test your individual finger strength and ability to trust yourself, whilst bridging across flat faces with both feet vertically positioned in water runnels.
This place deserves respect or it will eat you up and spit you out quicker than you can say “Dobro dan” to the local park ranger. I have always worked on the technical aspect of my climbing, but nothing prepared me for the “Paklenica Experience”.
Day one in the park we warmed up on a bunch of 4’s and 5’s at Klanci Sector. We were both very surprised at how desperate these routes actually felt. The rock was beautiful, yet sharp and the moves……well the moves were very unusual at times. I hadn’t experienced moves quite this technical for the grades we were climbing.
We graduated to the creek bed area the next day and it was beautiful and cool. The place actually becomes very busy quite early on as the majority of people who are in the park during the week are there to climb. Early in the morning when you look up at the massive limestone walls, there are multi pitch maniacs everywhere. Its super cool.
The climbing in the creek was fabulous and still very technical. Easy grades still tested everyone there. I came off a 6b (19/20) that was balancy and thin. This vertical one move wonder became indeed crucial to my development :-)………it treated me with the disrespect I deserved.
There were a number of moments across our time in the park where we were all treated with mild disdain. It was the best thing that could have happened as we all sucked it up and really dug deep to find our feet literally and figuratively. True growth only comes out of patience and learning. This was our new classroom and we were in kindergarten again.
The routes we were climbing were truly super fun routes. We would get there early and climb as much as we could some days. Other days we would do two routes and go for a burger and beer. We did however climb a lot and that was the best remedy for solving our experience issues on these type of routes.
I would go back to Paklenica for a long stay (6 weeks) just to improve my climbing more and more. It is a fabulous location with incredible climbing all throughout the park. I really feel like I had a great breakthrough in the time I was there. It wasn’t ticking big numbers, it wasn’t climbing big mountains…….it was doing good time on weaknesses that had not showed their faces previously.
Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.
– Shah Rukh Khan