Summer time in Dolomites with family part 3

Active holidays in the Dolomites, climbing, and hiking

  • Rock climbing in the region of Cortina d’Ampezzo

I promised a blog post about climbing in the Dolomites in summer. This time I am writing about climbing in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Cortina is situated even further north of Agordo and Belluno and it’s still in Veneto province. Around this little town there are beautiful mountains with the most popular climbing with trad and sport multi-pitch routes in Tofana di Rozes, Tre Cime, Cinque Torri, Picolo Lagazoi, and Lastoni di Formin.

There are also very good crags with single-pitch routes, some hidden in the forest or situated high up in the mountains which are perfect for summer . And what kind of rock is there? It’s Dolomite with a very good quality of stone. Climbing in this region is usually on very nice slabs, or vertical technical routes, and some steep or even overhanging routes with nice shiny pockets of crystals , so basically there is very good friction for climbing.

A few crags we climb;

1.Volpera crag is located 5 kilometers north of the town of Cortina. There are big boulders spread out over the forest with different styles of climbing. You can climb on very steep short routes with pockets or very long routes, mostly face climbing on good holds and crimps. One sector was even possible to climb in the rain.

A similar crag is 2.Campo, which is basically in the same forest, just parking is in a different location and the approach is from below, within 7 minutes from the parking lot.

Volpera crag

Volpera- Sasso dei Finanzieri sector.
Volpera crag.

Hiking day; There is not just about climbing in the Dolomites. Mountains offer lots of hiking trails, which are perfect to hike for all kinds of goals. And with a little kid it is perfect to go with a cable car and then hike on high mountains. We choose the mountain Lagazuoi, where the cable car runs from Passo Falzarego and goes on 2700m, and from there, you walk to the top for about 20 min, and it’s the perfect walk with kids and families.

Cable car on Lagazuoi.
Tofana di Rozes.
From the top of the mountain Lagazuoi.

3.Crepe de Oucera Basse is a vertical wall with lots of routes graded 5a and 7b, most of the routes are 6b-6c, 30 – 40meters high. Easy 5 minutes approach and you get in one of the best crags in Dolomites for these grades. It’s northeast, so it’s perfect for a summer climbing spot. The routes are amazing, with pockets, crimps, juggs and great friction gives you lots of endurance training. A little bit further is 4.Crepe de Oucera Alta, which has longer and more steep routes, up to 8b+. The wall is south-orientated, so late afternoon is already in the shade, and at an altitude of 1700m. The routes here are very technical and a bit hard.

Crepe de Oucere Basse.

Crepe de Oucere Alta

Crepe de Oucere Alta

A very nice and beautiful spot to visit is the heart of the area is 5.Cinque Torri, which is also great to hike around these towers. On these towers, there are sectors with single-pith routes and multi-pitch routes as well. Routes are a bit sharp and more alpine style but worth visiting, climbing, and enjoying the view of the mountains. It’s one of the best views in Dolomites from towers and climbing there is just a unique experience. The only downside is, that you must walk or take a cable car, or even a taxi from lower parking. You still can drive up with the small car but between 9:30-15:30 the road is closed, which makes sense because there is not much parking space above.

Cinque torri

Cinque torri -Massi west face

Torri Latina in Cinque torri

Cinque torri

Dolomiti mountains, Cinque torre.
the view on Cinque Torri.

Cinque torri -Massi west face

Sass de Stria.

Cinque torri -Torri Grande west face

In this region, we must mention the crag 6.Piccolo Lagazuoi and 7.Sass de Stria, with beautiful routes for beginners and gives you the real feeling that you are climbing in big mountains, even if there are only single-pitch routes. There are a few crags around Passo Valparola, like Salares, and Sestas, which we must visit for our next trip. These crags are at an altitude of more than 2000 m, so the weather forecast must be stable to visit these sectors.

Sass de Stria

Sass de Stria-east face

There are a few crags 25 minutes from Cortina which is in Valley Pusteria, direction north. The most attractive are 8.Franchi and 9.Landro Classic. These sectors are also good with a child, with a shorter approach and flat under the wall.

Leandro classic sector

Leandro classic

Rest days ;

So you have a few suggestions for summer in Dolomites. For the rest of the days we visited Tre Cime, then Mondo Bimbo for the most attractive playground for kids with the longest slide in the world , then Earth pyramids of Platten within 1hour from Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Tre Cime

Mondo Bimbo in Valdaora

The longest slide in Mondo Bimbo.

Earth pyramids of Platten.

Climbing in Dolomiti Agordino, Caleda.

Summer time in Dolomites with family part 2

Active holidays in Dolomites, climbing, and hiking

Monte Agner in Agordino region.
Monte Agner.
Climbing in the province of Belluno
  • Rock climbing in Dolomiti Agordino

This time I will talk about climbing in the Agordino area.  From Belluno heading northwest towards Agordo is about a 20min drive. This place is good to visit in the full summer heat because is higher and it’s in mountains. There is Agordo- a small town situated in the province of Belluno. In Agordo on Wednesdays, there is a market day, which makes the town alive and colourful.

Laghetti crag.

And what about climbing there? For me, I would say that is the best region for climbing in summer. There are very good crags with very good quality rock, climbing on limestone and dolomite rock for everyone. One of the best climbing crags for families and beginners is Laghetti. Laghetti has two big boulders, which you can walk around it and there are everywhere routes. It is located near village Frassene with a 1 min approach and flat base for belay. There is a little river strim to cool your drinks or feet. This crag is perfect for kids where they can play on grass and it’s easy for parents to climb all day. Even with the full sun on the crag, the air is fresh, so we were still climbing on sunny days. The most interesting climbing routes are on the south face, and on the north face there are hard and a bit humid rock.

Climbing in Laghetti, nera Agner mountain.
Laghetti crag with lots of easy routes, but also there is 8a on the north side.
Laghetti.

For the rest day, we choose instead for a yoga session, we went hiking in mountains, basically to Refuge Scarpa, which is under mountain Agner. It was a sunny day, with nice fresh air. The path is quite steep, so we walked all day and enjoyed the mountains. By the side of the path, there are many forest strawberries and raspberries. It was great to eat them on the way up and down. Aron, our 2 and half-year-old son almost did it on his own, going up and down, he wanted that way. He loves to be in nature and walk.

Caleda crag.

Next stop we visited crag Caleda. This crag is on the other side of mountain Moiazza,  located in the woods. Climbing in Caleda is just great. Climbing is on steep sharp rock with super nice routes with crimps and pockets. In Caleda we enjoyed routes from 6a up to 8a+. And the shade is until 1 pm. Climbing there gives you a mountaineer atmosphere with calm and beautiful nature. Close by there is another crag called La Pera, with similar climbing to Caleda, just a bit easier crag, and less approach. Very good for families too.

Mountain Moiazza.
Passo Fedaia.
Hiking day on ski pista Marmolada.

The next two climbing areas are one of the best crags around Agordo with beautiful landscapes and great rock. One is Laste ; the largest crag in the valley. Laste has numerous routes on a huge boulder that stand on the grassy plateau by the forest. The most gorgeous from this crag is the view of mountain Civetta. A bit higher from Laste or on the way to Marmolada-Passo Fedaia there are sectors Malga Ciapela, Bosco Verde, and Capanna Bill. All three are special. Malga Ciapela is another small crag in the forest with a very steep wall full of pockets, so athletic climbing is essential. Bosco Verde is a very overhanging wall, so rainy days are an option to climb there. And Capanna Bill is located just a few curves before Passo Fedaia, and the crag is visible from the road. It has an incredible vertical greyish and orange rock.  In Capannna Bill you will find quite technical routes medium grades and harder routes on the left overhanging wall with a few tufas. Marmolada has a very good quality rock and crags underneath as well.

Ski lift on Marmolada.

Driving towards Passo Falzarego there is a crag Andraz-Sass de Beita consisting of a few big blocks. This crag is located at 1800 m altitude, so it’s perfect for hot summer. We were climbing on pleasant dolomite rock. On the north side of the boulder, there are technical routes on the steep wall. On south faces, there are very nice long easy routes for beginners. There are also hard routes on the overhanging blocks. Andraz is one of the sectors suitable for families with kids. Agordino region has 13 crags all together with great climbing, some are them in the forests, some are them are big boulders, visible from far away and it’s incredible to spend summer in this area. Next time we will describe climbing around Cortina d’Ampezzo.

Andraz- Sass de Beita.
Andraz- suitable for kids.
Andraz- from 5a-6b slabby routes.

Written by Anja.

Dolomiti mountains, Cinque torre.

Summer time in Dolomites with family part 1

Active holidays in the Dolomites, climbing, and hiking

Casso village in Italy.
Casso village, above Erto crag.

Regional parks like Dolomiti Bellunesi national park are located in the Dolomites. Dolomites are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Where and when to visit the Dolomites?

The answer is simple, whenever. You just need to know what you wanna do. Winter is mystical with its snow and calm beauty, then is spring, when nature awakens, in summer is great to be in higher mountains to enjoy fresh air, and in autumn nature is calming down. This year we visited the Dolomites in late spring and summer. If we talk about the Dolomites, there is not just Cortina de Ampezzo, but also other mountains and valleys. The Dolomites are located in the regions of Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol and Friuli Venezia Giulia and area is covering between provinces Belluno, Vicenza, Verona, Trentino, South Tyrol, Udine and Pordenone. So our first stop was in the province of Belluno, which we discovered two years ago.  After Belluno, we were climbing in South Tyrol. Other regions we will explore in the following years. 

Lake Santa Croce for swim and chill.

Cow in mountains of the herat of the Dolomites.

 

Climbing in the province of Belluno
  • Rock climbing in Dolomiti Bellunesi

Our choice of region Belluno was based on our short time for travel from home to Slovenia. Only 2 hours and a half drive from home we are in the province of Belluno, where the Dolomites rise up from river Piava. The Belluno region has many valleys, mountains, rivers, and small crags in the woods.

Lake Mis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those crags have very nice routes, for everyone we can find something. The type of rock is mostly limestone, and each crag has its specialty. Erto crag is one of the most famous and historical crags in the world with a super overhang orange wall, and by the side of the ˝Big sector˝, there are many easy routes on a solid grey rock- ˝No big sector˝.

Climbing in Erto, Bellunoi.

Erto, ˝No big˝ sector on the right. The largest sector is Casso, which is above Erto crag which the wall looks on the main road towards Cortina. In Casso is good to go in the morning, when the wall is in the shade. The approach is very pleasant on flat ground, in 20 minutes you arrive at the first sector. Climbing in Casso is very good, mostly on the grey wall, with different styles, ranging from steep roofs with tufas to vertical climbs.

Podenzoi crag.
Podenzoi crag with harder routes.

On the opposite side of  Casso, there is a Podenzoi crag, which is a good climbing wall for long-sleepers like us. We are very easy in the mornings, so afternoon crags are perfect for us. This crag is just perfect for me, where I can climb on the great solid rock with super nice warm-up routes like 6a and 6b,  then you try very nice challenging routes on slightly overhanging with jugs, technical climbing, and tufas. It’s just amazing to climb here. In every route, you must climb committed. There is no easy grading. But this is not important. The best is to enjoy it. :=)

Erto crag, the ˝Big sector˝ with old-school classic hardcore routes.
Gallina with the refreshing river at bottom of the walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podenzoi is located next to Longarone village, where you can find a good pizzeria and ice cream.  On a very hot summer day, we went to crag Mae, which is next to the river. This Mae has only 7 routes with intense climbing, and it’s just perfect for climbing and swimming on the spot. There is a bit steep downhill approach but is worth it to visit this place. If you are kind of stuck in the Longarone village, there is a small crag, called Malcolm. In the middle of Longarone where you can try some medium and hard stuff. There are a few crags around Longarone village and it’s a good starting point for climbing and hiking.

Magic forest near Erto.
CLimbing in Mae.
Val Gallina multi-pitch. Very beautiful wall.

A few kilometers south of Longarone there is crag Val Gallina. The wall is hidden from the main road and it’s a beautiful piece of rock with some sport, multi-pitch, and via ferrata routes.  Gallina is perfect for enjoying the peace and cooling in a small river with a combination of climbing and picnic day. Rock climbing is very similar to Dolomite rock and you can get a bit of mountainous terrain. Via ferratas are just great to have good exercise for a rest day.

Malcolm sector in Longarone.
River Piava.
Dolada mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you wanna have mountain experiences with very solid climbing on grey slaby limestone, Dolada mountain is a perfect choice.  From Dolada you admire a wonderful view of lake Santa Croce.

And few sectors are hidden around the lake Santa Croce. One of the best sectors near the lake is Fadalto Basso, which originally belongs to the province of Treviso. In Fadalto we were climbing on vertical and slightly overhanging routes with tufas and technical climbing. I would say, that they were quite hard for grades and very technical. Fadalto is not the easiest crag at all. In 6b routes, you need to work hard. It felt harder than 7a in Greece.:=)

Two more crags I will describe in a post.  One is close to Belluno city, it’s called  Ceresera and another close to Sedico is Le Rosse. Ceresera is hidden in the woods, and the wall is mostly overhanging, there are not much easier routes but very nice steep 6b-is, with good jugy routes and very interesting rock.

Not far from Belluno, near village Sedico there is Le Rosse with vertical and technical routes, mostly 6a, 6a+, and 6b in sector Archi. In another sector  Cave is more or less the same style, just a bit harder. This sector is very good for practicing foot techniques on a solid crimpy rock.

Waterfall Cornolade, near lake Santa Croce.
Dolada rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited other crags which are also in the guide book, but some of them were very hard to find, and after 1 hour of searching we didn’t satisfy our expectations. Sometimes we were looking for one crag and then found something else. Perhaps someone bolted something and left it or…I don’t know. We find crags everywhere and a lot. And it’s a bit funny for us and fun. Rocks around Belluno are one of the best rocks in a small area with great climbing in beautiful mountains and valleys. Next time, I will talk about rocks around Agordo.

Written by Anja.

 

The view of village Casso.
Igne sector.
Lake Mis in the morning.
Igne, we were climbing in the rain.

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Climbing on Hvar

The big cave was calling for me.

I’ve heard about climbing on Hvar already a long time ago, and it has been on my wish list ever since Dani Piccini first send me the photos of the amazing cave in Lučišče canyon. Many years have passed, and others were kept reminding me about this island and its neighbor Brač.

This year, while on a Balkan trip, we finally got a chance to stop there on our way. Well, basically, we were stuck in Istria and didn’t have an exact plan of what to do, and then Roko sent me the picture of this cool wall and invited us to bolt some routes with him. He didn’t have to ask twice; we were already sitting in our big white van and driving down south.

Our base camp was in Jelsa, situated in the middle of the island, and is perfect for visiting all the climbing areas.

Small but nice deep water solo spot

1st day, to recover from driving, we decided to do some Deepwater soloing. It looked like a small crag from the boat, but when I was somewhere in the middle of the wall, my chicken brain took over, and I had to jump down. Even though it was already November, the water was still warm enough for swimming. They say the sea doesn’t get much colder, so it is not the best place for practicing the Wim Hof method :).

Day 2. Finally, we walked up to the big Lučišče crag. The closer we got, the bigger it looked. Even before I cached my breath, I was already searching for new lines I wanted to open. One particular stood out immediately in the center of the wall, over the huge roof with big holes and into grey holdless headwall. I decided the best way to start working on it is to get to the top by doing a big traverse from the side, over some loose ledges, and finally to the final part of the beautiful headwall of the route. Just when we reached the top, stronger than strong Jugo wind started and was trying to blow us off the wall. Then the rain started. But luckily, that was not a big problem for continuing working on a big roof. The quality of the rock was amazing, and I knew I had a great week of bolting ahead of me.

Day 3. Winds calmed down, and living on the ledge below the wall was pleasant again. I finished working on the 70m monster route and was happy to see it’s theoretically possible to climb it. Just in case, I added another anchor at the jug just before the hard holdless section starts for those who already get pumped after 35 meters of roof climbing :).

Following days, we were mostly hanging on a wall like “Pršut” while drying on the wind. It took us almost a week before we were dry enough and started trying all the routes that we had done. It was worth it. I can’t remember when I enjoyed climbing so much. It is special to put all the work into developing a new climbing area and then enjoy climbing in it. You don’t want to leave the island when you see the result and how fun climbing on newly bolted routes.

Sector Ruža Vjetrova has 23 brand new routes, and 18 are still waiting for the first ascent. I don’t believe in closed projects, so if anyone feels like getting the extra points for FA, feel free to go for it. After all, I did not make routes; they were carefully sculpted by nature to give us these amazing challenges. I just put the bolts in to make it safe 😉

Thanks so much to the organizations that helped finance this: Hive Climbing Gym ZagrebTZ Jelsa and TZ Starigrad.

Topo of Lučišče
Climbing course in Istria, Pandora.

How is the climbing in Istria, and what is the HC-Hardcore sector?

A little bit of history

Since we started visiting Istria years ago, we have noticed many changes in the past few years. The climbing in Istria developed a lot, and climbing tourism with accommodations expanded too. In the past, climbers didn’t know Istria as having potential for climbing. There were few places to climb. The first climbing began in 1922 on Kamenjak, near town Rijeka and in 1931, Emilio Comici and his friend Stauderi did the first ascent on Big tower in Vela Draga.

Climbing on tower in canyon Vela Draga, in Istria.
The couple was climbing on a Big tower of Vela Draga in National park Ucka.
Tower of Vela Draga, Istria.
2 pitches high tower attracts many climbers to step on the top of it.

Since then, local climbers and climbers from other countries have started to open new routes in Pazin, Dvigrad, Nugla, Raspadalica, Limski Kanal, and Rovinj. The more detailed history you can read in one of the climbing guidebooks.

Climbing in Pandora-Sopot sector in Istria.
Klemen is climbing in Pandora-Sopot on gorgeous tufas.

An enormous explosion of new sectors happened around 2008 when Austrian Horhager Gerhard and his friends found walls around Buzet and started with bolting actions. Then sector Kompanj, Pandora, Istarske Toplice rose up. Later also local climbers added new sectors, Kamena vrata, and Buzetski canyon, then Italian climbers bolted whole new sector Medveja. Around Buzet and village Roč, many climbers from abroad added new routes each year. Later Klemen Bečan bolted the hardest routes in Kamena vrata, Pandora, Raspadalica, Krkuž, and HC-Hardcore.

Kompanj sector in Istria.
Kompanj sector with best routes in the area next to village Roc.

How is climbing today?

Each crag and even each sector is different and very good for climbing. Istria has the best climbing crags in Croatia, with more than 1500 routes. You can have fun on an easy slab with big holds in Kamena Vrata and Limski Kanal. You can climb adventure routes in Vela Draga with sharp crimps and terrible footholds with spaced bolts. Then climbing on tufa-routes with power endurance in Buzet canyon and Pandora-Sopot. Then you can have very extreme power climbing on the roof of Krkuž with toe-heel hooks, or you have an enjoyable climbing holiday by the sea in Rovinj. On rainy days we can go to a boulder gym in village Roč.

Village Roc, Istria.
Village Roč is situated next to the sector Kompanj.
Entrance of village Roc in Istria.
Entrance into the village Roč.

School in village Roc, Istria.

Waterfall Sopot, near Buzet.
Once a year, waterfall Sopot comes through the roof in the Pandora-Sopot sector.

Board on parking for Kompanj sector.

Why are we many times here?

Because we like the atmosphere, in general, from climbing, delicious food, great rock, friendly people and climbing community, and many climbing spots still to bolt.

Vela Draga canyon, Istria.
The beauty of Vela Draga canyon is worth visiting.
climbing in Kompanj, Istria.
Climbing in Istria is one of the places with great vertical long routes with all kinds of shapes and sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is about the HC sector?

The HC wall is unique, next to the minor road with a 1m approach. The wall you can see from the main road, driving towards Kompanj. In the past, climbers were afraid to bolt this slightly overhanging 25-meter high wall with tiny small holds and no footholds. They thought that was too difficult, so they left it empty. But the wall attracted Klemen Bečan, and we started to bolt first routes. In the beginning, there were few lines, mostly projects.klemen is climbing in HC secotr, Istra.

For a start, Klemen sent easier routes, and then he stuck in the projects. Then Klemen sent all his projects during the lockdown in 2020. We came back in 2021 and found out that there is only one project left.

Klemen in Napaka v sistemu, 8c, sector HC.
Klemen in Napaka v sistemu, 8c, sector HC.

There are hidden small holds in the rock, sidepulls are far apart, and the athletic moves. Climbing is like bouldering on a rope. Learning new bouldery techniques on this wall is so different and exhausting after one day of climbing. And what about the grading in HC? It was also unique because it was hard to grade the bouldery route, so the grades are lower than usual. And maybe because we don’t like the grade hunters.

People sometimes visit the HC sector and try and then wonder how those moves are possible to climb. So we film the moves and show them the beta, or the best is if they climb with us, so Klemen can coach them on a specific route. So if you are interested in climbing coaching, specialized in the HC sector, you should hire Klemen. Only he can tell you how to climb there. He can explain not only technically but also how physics works. I don’t know anybody who can read the rock better than him. So, now we understand why HC is so unique. I think that sector HC could be one of the valuable heritage in the climbing world.

Climbing sector Ciritez, Istria.
Climbing in sunny sector Rock’n’roc in crag Ciritež with powerful moves and easier routes beside the overhang.
Climbing in Vela Draga canyon, in National park Ucka.
Climbing above the tunnel in Vela Draga. Today no trains are running.
climbing easy routes in Buzet canyon, Istria.
Climbing easier slabs in sector Plaža, with long beautiful 6a and 6b routes.
Climbing above Buzet in sector Raspadalica.
The first sector of Raspadalice with a beautiful view of Buzet.
Climbing in sector HC, Istria.
Climbing in the HC sector is for strong climbers and great for visitors.
Autumn colors in Istria.
The climbing season starts in the Autumn period when the colors are the most beautiful.
Family day in nature.
In Istria with family is a great place to have nice climbing holidays.

tower of Vela Draga, Istria. climbing in krkuz sector, Istria. autumn tree. Climbing in the roof of Krkuz, Istria.

Sunny sector Ciritez, Istria.
Čiritež.

Sector Plaza, in Buzet canyon.

Family day in nature.
Doser sector in Buzet canyon with nice 7a, 7b, and 7c.

Chulilla in May and the first 7c para Anja

Raindrops and church bells slowly wake you up in a small village called Chulilla. However, here the sound of church bells doesn’t bother you because you are far away from home and completely at ease. You make a mistake while counting the bells and don’t know which hour they ring anymore, so you make some coffee and stretch out with a wonderful view over the beautiful, picturesque village. The views of different shades of white, tall houses with tall antennas have a calming effect and put you in a world of more than 30 years ago. Narrow cement streets give a feeling of modernity, the speakers placed on the sides notify the whole village about pressing news like the absence of water between 8 and 9pm.
   

 

Welcome to Chulilla

Chullila has the main square where the whole village gathers in the evening and dances late into the night. Through the maze of village streets, you can find your way to the top of a wall that brings you to a castle from which you can see the curvy, orange-grey, 80 meter high limestone walls of Chulilla, rising above river Turia. The cliffs take your breath away as they meander for a few kilometers more. Why have we chosen Chulilla? Why the same place for the fifth year straight? This time we visited Spain in May without our blue, four wheeled home. It wasn’t hard to arrange a place to stay with Sebastian and find a reliable climbing partner-cum-taxi driver in Juantxo Ponso. We discussed the number of climbing areas to be found in Slovenia and those in the community of Valencia during dinner, coming to the conclusion that the latter clearly wins. Chulilla itself has more than a thousand routes with great quality of rock, tufas, crimps, slabs, slopers, along with overhanging routes. Chulilla is known as the 7c paradise, which I can only confirm. It is situated in the Turia river basin, about 50 km away from Valencia. This is relatively close for Slovenians if you fly from Trieste or Treviso. Organize a friend or a taxi to pick you up and the adventure begins.

The beginning of climbing in Chulilla started in the 80s, when an American started to bolt routes, some time later the local climbers joined in. In the 90s, it was more popular to bolt short overhanging routes with an artificial feel, with holes, crimps, in a style not so much used today. The number of routes grew and reached a peak when Pedro Pons bolted two larger sectors Oasis and Balcon along with a handful of others. The climbing guide with new sectors was published in Desnivel magazine and Chulilla flourished again. The locals are still equipping new routes so it never gets boring.

   

As I said, we took a flight this time rather than our van, which proved to be a great choice because you have to adapt more and are more open socially. You experience the village, the people and the climbing itself in a different way than if you’re coming with your “coche”. When we’re on the road, we usually distance ourselves from other people and retire early

. But now it felt good to be in the company of other people and when you live in a small village everything is within hands reach, so you can really take it easy and relax. With rising temperatures every day, you become truly Mediterranean. The Spanish call this: Prisa mate, amigo!, which roughly translates as ‘Chill out and you’ll live longer.

 

Two younger brothers live in Sebastian’s house. Their Columbian mother visits them on weekends, she fills the house with a positive vibe, and amazing energy, and cooks Columbian food. Living with a Spanish speaking family, there’s no option but to learn Spanish yourself, which wasn’t a problem for the two of us at all. In two weeks time, we spoke Spanish sufficiently fluently to able to talk about life, climbing, food, weather and stuff like that. I felt very welcome in their house and we’ll come back again for sure. The Spanish usually have a custom of »mi casa es tu casa«, what is mine is yours, and you are always welcome with us. They really don’t worry and take things easy and this is something we Slovenians should learn to do as well.

Pared Blanca Project

The pace of life in Chulilla dictates that you wake up, have some coffee, open climbmaps.com and look at sectors and grades,to decide which you want to try today. We didn’t feel like walking today, so we chose sectors

Com­petición and Los perros, the closest ones to the Casa de Sebas and they have beautiful routes. Being one of the oldest sectors, about 30 years old, Los Perros is also appropriately polished. But that didn’t bother us too much. We warmed up nicely, Klemen did the first repetition of Alien sex friend, 8b, with artificial holes, which was equipped and first climbed by Pedro Pons in 1990.

The next day, we went to sector Pared Blanca in the river Turia canyon. There are two possible approaches. One starts at a dam and the other goes over a hilltop across hanging bridges and this is the one I prefer.

I had a debt in Pared Blanca from last winter. I went for it right away and succeeded in one of my hardest 7a+’s up to now. The rest of the day I belayed and pondered on which route to try next. Pretty soon, my husband showed me Super Zeb, 7c, an overhanging crack at the beginning of the wall with a slightly overhanging corner in the upper part of the route and said that this was a route for me. I looked up and wondered at the small holds, while in the lower part, the polished holds were shining from afar. I decided that this was not the route for me, but still, I was going to have a try. I first tried it on top rope. It’s an annoying route because you don’t know where and how to turn, everything is polished and it’s impossible to grip small holds and stand legs apart constantly so that everything hurts and you are not even halfway through the route. I could hardly get to the top of the 40 meter route even with quite a few rests and thought to myself that it would be impossible to climb. Still, after some spousal persuasion, I had another go. It went surprisingly better this time but I didn’t bother too much with the details. All that mattered to me was to climb higher than on the first try. And it was really better.

Titaguas for rest day

I wasn’t accustomed to making such hard moves, so I needed a rest day. For Klemen, rest day means »let’s have an adventure on a white water river and search for new walls«. We went to Titaguas where the river is equally cold as in Chulilla, only much livelier. The walls in Titaguas rise right from the river and there is no approach on dry land. One possibility was from the top of the wall and the other from the river. You can probably guess, which way we chose. What else but the wild river. We were lucky to have made it out in one piece considering our limited knowledge in rafting, and that the 50 euro boat held us. In a short moment, you experience everything from a quiet boat ride, where you can look

at the walls with beautifully-shaped tufas, to a sudden capsize of the boat and swimming in 10 degree Celsius cold water. The things we do to find and express our passion for climbing! The potential crag discovering expedition was wild and totally crazy. But we weren’t smart enough to think ahead about how we were going to paddle back against the stream which was our only way back. After a few tries, we finally managed to paddle back with the help of holding on to a wall to  find a calmer part of the river place and climb out of the water there. Adventures tire you and in the evening we fell into our beds and slept like babies.

Pared Blanca, studying the project

We visited Pared Blanca the next day, where I tried my route again. This time I got brave and tried to climb it on the lead. I got quite scared because the bolts in Chulilla are spaced quite far apart. In fact the bolts are good, but Slovenians are a bit spoiled. I got to the top so I did another try. This time I managed to climb fluently and I had a good fight till the crux part and then I rested because I was so pumped. I climbed the second part to the top without any problems and this gave me strength and belief that I could do it. Two tries a day is more than enough for me and tomorrow would be a new day. And so I laboured on the route three days in a row, getting better each time and with each try I got higher before falling. Then, I suddenly felt different, tired out and powerless, I was too pumped at the crux and couldn’t hold it anymore. I made mistakes in the lower part and there were too many extended quickdraws. So I decided to change my tactics. I got rid of extra quickdraws and started clipping in the rope with another hand. I even wrote a cheat sheet for the lower part, which proved to be a good idea. And when I had all this, my strength declined. I didn’t know what was going on. Why? I needed a rest day again.

Rest Day 2- bolting a route in canyon

This time, Klemen’s idea was to bolt a route in Chulilla’s canyon. The quality of rock is very good yet it is never visited because of the river. By now, we were already very experienced paddlers and adventurers, so my husband organized where the team would do that day. It was as hot as hell. Mosquitos sucked our blood and frazzled our nerves. The idea was to film everything with a camera and a drone, so we needed more people to take part in this project. Around midday, the hottest part of the day, we finally got to work. It was all a bit crazy. We had to inflate the boat at the car, access the river through bushes and descend the river to reach the spot, where Klemen imagined. He drilled a bolt and a removable anchor on the other side, so I could film from there. Ernesto took care of aerial filming. The river was calm and everything was much easier than in Titaguas. Juantxo belayed from the boat and soaked up the sun. And Klemen was creating a new route, as usual. He is very fast and precise with bolting. When he’s doing »bottom up« bolting, he uses a special technique: after a few meters of climbing, he first tries to protect himself with two skyhooks for small cracks and he has to be careful not to move too much, otherways they unhook and this results in a fall. He then drills a 3 centimeter deep hole and inserts a removable anchor, that look like small friends and are more secure than sky hooks. If the route is long, he needs many of them. But these removable anchors aren’t meant for climbing. Klemen usually uses ten removable anchors for a route and also drills some bolts to be safer. He then climbs to the top, makes a belay point, goes down or fixes a rope and deepens the holes to drill in proper bolts. The route is then cleaned, dangerous rocks are hammered away and it’s ready to go. We filmed the whole process and were left dizzy from the heat and mosquitos, so we abandoned the thought of climbing for the day. The route was done but we found out later that it was made in a protected area, so next time we should inform ourselves better.

The last two days in Pared Blanca

Active rest days are sometimes good but not for the projects. The temps can reach up to 35 degrees Celsius. There is no wind and mosquitos attack from morning to evening, so we decided to head to the wall very early. Warming up at 9am is more exhausting than I thought. Sleepiness and the heat tire you out. I was a bit too enthusiastic on my first try. The lower part was still too confusing and I couldn’t remember the combination of moves. I used too much energy. Finally, my nerves got the best of me and I lay down crying, wondering about what had I been doing wrong. Klemen persuaded me to try it again to take some photos and next time, I would do it for sure. I was tired from all the attempts and thought this photo shooting was completely unnecessary. Klemen took pictures for about an hour and then I said I wasn’t going to do it anymore, not on this trip.

The night passed and I felt great in the morning. I looked at the photos on Klemen’s computer and I actually looked great on them. The more I looked at the photos, the more I felt the urge to do it. I watched them for about an hour and tried to remember the combinations with as little matching holds as possible. Silently, I wanted to try the route this day immediately. This time, we headed to sectors Diagnostico and Balcon, where I took pictures of Klemen in his 70-meter route Antigravity, 8b+. I think it’s the longest route in the canyon. Mosquitos and the heat didn’t ease off. Besides taking pictures, I belayed all day and tried to protect myself from the mosquitos. Even mosquito repellent didn’t help. We finished climbing at 6pm and headed back to the car. On our way back, we stopped at my project. I started at it, wondering whether I should try it or not. Finally I decided to give it another shot. The sun was still too hot, so we preferred to wait and took a swim in the river. I felt bad because Klemen placed quickdraws in my route for me every day and I didn’t want to burden him with that extra thing. After all, I should be doing that myself. Now that I’m writing this, I’m aware that you don’t need someone to make your climbing projects easier. If you are capable of red-pointing a route, you can also start working on it yourself.

This time, Klemen placed quickdraws for me again and I tried it just to warm up. I was holding on well, almost not pumped enough after the first roof. I took a rest on a small tufa and decided to go on. My legs were working for me perfectly. I made some small mistakes but despite that, I was holding on well and stopped just before the crux to shake off my arms. Maybe I rested a bit too long but then I went for the move and, great, I was still holding on. I did the second and third move but lost tension for the final one so I fell, with no fear, quite a few meters. I wasn’t even aware I was flying. I was so happy that I did the move and fell. I can’t remember when was the last time I fought so much and did the moves with no fear. I mostly struggle with fear of falling and heights. I know we all have this fear but each person manages it differently. I had nerves on this route at first. It was too hard for me, too overhanging and I was too heavy, the bolts are spaced 2 meters apart and more. I did the crux move with fear quite often. Whenever I came to the crux section completely pumped, I grabbed a quickdraw or did something else wrong. That day, I just climbed, without thinking about where the quickdraws were. I focused on climbing and let the rhythm take over me. Right after the fall, I lowered to the ground because I knew I only had one more attempt before the night falls.

After half an hour, when the sun was beginning to set and mosquitos started to attack in swarms, I went up the route again. I didn’t think about how much I wanted to succeed but said to myself to just enjoy climbing. I got ready and started to climb. Klemen was completely dressed and covered at 30 degrees Celsius, he put on gloves and belayed me faithfully. I climbed fast but even despite that, I had more and more mosquitos on my body. I came through the first part and wanted to rest. But instead of that, I had to blow these mosquitos off my arms. I checked one arm and then the other. I couldn’t believe how many of them I saw at once. I think it was at least 50 of them. I climbed on, determined and strong. When the pain was unbearable, I tried to focus on breathing. I couldn’t get rid of them because I would fall. I climbed wisely, suddenly I was at the crux and made all the moves dynamically, just as I trained. I grabbed the little hole and suddenly I was higher on it than usual. Klemen cheered and I huffed into mosquitos. I continued climbing and found amazing strength, I wondered where all that pumped out the feeling was and I was already at the tufa on a rest. I could get rid of all mosquitos here and I knew I only had 10 more meters to the top. I wasn’t fully aware of all that was happening. I shook my arms just in case and completely focused on climbing. I enjoyed every single move. I felt good in the route. The higher I got, the more I knew I really wanted to climb it and did all the moves 100 percent.

It’s not an easy route, most people fall on the last move before the belay. So there is no slacking off. I did the last hard moves full out, then the two jugs and a jump to the last jug, a few tufas, an undercling and I was at the belay already. I clipped it and screamed victoriously. Joy and happiness were overflowing. At the same time, I felt like crying from all the pain and I wanted to get down as fast as possible. When I came down from the route, I was all excited and I said to my husband: “I’ve never felt this strong!” I had a feeling I wasn’t pumped at all. The next day I felt sore in both my arms and legs. I had never climbed this fast in my life. It was a first and such a special experience that I still cannot describe it. But now I know why I climb. Because I can overcome my fears in hard routes. Because not everything is in body weight and height, like most climbers think but as Natalija Gros said: The biggest muscle in the body is the brain. I have experienced this myself, and I realized I could push not only the limits in my climbing but also big decisions in life. This was the route that gave me much more than just a big number grade. That was just a bonus. Sometimes you have to wait but just keep persisting and be patient. It took me more than 10 years to be climbing 7a. Some people give up in this time, others reach it faster. But I never gave up and now I believe in myself, I can do even more. I still like to climb 100-meter grade 5 routes. So what if it’s a 5, as long as I am happy doing it.

The first 7c has to be celebrated. Lucky for me, the feria for May 1st Holiday lasted for days. It wasn’t hard to convince local people to celebrate. The Spanish celebrate May 1st not by making bonfires but by jumping for a leg of ham, which is hanging from a string in the air about 10 meters above the ground. Boys and girls form a human pyramid and amongst lots of laughter and climbing back and forth over one another, they always reach the “jamon”, some even with bruises on their limbs. The “jamon” is then taken across the village where it is served with tapas. I wish we had this kind of festival at home.

We finished partying and the next day was my journey home, via Valencia airport to Trieste, Italy, and finally Rakek. And we’re home again. I have to go back to work in the morning and next weekend I’ll be climbing again and study new routes.

   

 

New partner – bolting.eu

As many of you know, I love bolting new projects. So I was very happy to get a call from my old climbing friend Gerhard Schaar from Austria.

One of Austria´s most established developers has done about 400 new lines, mainly in Maltatal and Tyrol, Croatia, and India. Recently he has launched his company bolting.eu and invited me to join his team.

Because his new company is all about bolting, that means Gerhard has built a unique one-stop-platform (so far in German language only) for bolters and climbing tourism projects.

He sells a great variety of bolts, bolt hangers, glue-in bolts, and climbing anchors in his bolting online shop. There is nothing a developer can not get there. Finally, there is an online shop where you can get everything you need as a developer with just a single order for great prices. Even if you do not speak German, the shop has a great design, and you can easily shop just by watching the pictures . Bolting. eu ships all over Europe, of course!

So I am really lucky to get sponsored by bolting.eu now. The company supplies me with all equipment I can not get from my other esteemed sponsors. For example, the extra-long anchor chains if the solid rock parts are a bit further apart. Bolts with 2 expansion rings or titanium glue-in bolts for my projects at the coast.

And all the really useful accessories such as chain links, injection mortar, rock hammers, and tool bags. As I said, this shop has it all!

Bolting.eu is also producing via ferrata anchors with its Italian partner Vertical Evolution. They put their immense know-how together to produce some of the finest rope-clamp anchors and via ferrata stemples and ferrata handrails.

In addition to the shop, Gerhard will offer bolting courses in the future. Unfortunately, the Corona pandemic hat put a hold on the first courses in Kalymnos and Leonidio in Greece. But we hope to be able to organize some climbing coaching together in 2021 in Croatia as well.

The courses are a part of the bolting.eu Academy. There Gerhard shares his vast knowledge in bolting workshops and presentations as well. Alpine organizations can book him for talks at yearly meetings, festivals, and their additional program during fairs.

What is great about the new bolting.eu platform is the bolting blog. There you can find many interesting articles about technical, chemical, and physical topics concerning bolting. For example, the easy-to-follow instructions “setting a glue-in bolt” or “setting an expansion bolt.”

And if you are also looking for the right climbing gear, the online climbing shop on the bolting.eu website has a great range of climbing hardware too. And since Gerhard is also a climbing guidebook author, you also get his Maltatal guidebook there.