|Checking out the views on top of Anica Kuk|
|Lunch break in Hvar|
We began our trip by checking out the island of Hvar. The island is located off the southern coast of Croatia and it is a beautiful two-hour ferry ride from the port of Split. The next day we walked along the ocean side trail for about 20 minutes to the crag called Cliffbase. It is a private crag and there is a small fee to climb there. The owner is a rather eccentric man, who was really mad at me because we had chosen not to stay at his apartments as they were a little primitive for us. While his actions did discolor the experience a little bit, the climbing and the setting more than made up for it. We enjoyed 35 - 40 m bolted climbs right out of the water. Every route we climbed was great and the views of the rocky Mediterranean coastline were beautiful. Swimming around the rocky limestone boulders was also a highlight. We spent two days climbing there and then packed up and headed a bit north to Paklenica National Park.
|View of the Adriatic Sea from the hike to the crag on Hvar|
As one of eight national parks in Croatia, Paklenica is home a variety of large and small limestone formations with over 400 routes from grade 3 to 8b+ from single pitch to multi-pitch. The park is uniquely beautiful consisting of two broad limestone valleys (climbing is only allowed in one of them) and filled in with pine and beech forests. As you climb higher above the valley floor, views of the Adriatic Sea begin to peak out in the distance. The park is well maintained and there is one wide walking path that leads to the majority of the climbing. We rented a small apartment in the little town of Starigrad at the base of the park for 30 Euro/night. We spent our first few days dodging rain showers and sampling some of the cragging in the Klanci area and some of the shorter routes on the nearby formations. On my birthday we climbed the 4 pitch 6a+ Karamara Sweet Temptations on Veliki Cuk and then cragged at Crljenica high above the clear, blue Mediterranean Sea.
|Finishing up the last pitch Karamara Sweet Temptations|
|Topping out on Karamara Sweet Temptations just before the rain|
|Unknown climber on one of the 5.11 tufa climbs at Crlgenica|
|Starting up the third pitch on Domzalski|
The next day, we climbed on the famous Anica Kuk formation. This 350 meter limestone wall is the jewel of the area. There are hundreds of routes on the formation raging from 6a to 8a. We started up the classic Klin route. Prior to starting up the route, I mumbled that I hoped we wouldn’t get lost, as it was a huge face with tons of bolted routes intersecting all over the formation. Jonathon just laughed at me and responded that all we had to do was go up. As if I foreshadowed the day, route finding was a bit challenging on the lower angle and grassy terrain but eventually we found our way and things were going pretty smooth. The climbing was fun despite being a little wet. After I lead up the crux pitch, we somehow managed to get ourselves completely off route and begin climbing up a very steep route up the center of the wall. After getting worked on what was supposed to be a 5c traverse, we started to think that maybe we had traversed onto the 7b Zenith. We continued up wildly exposed terrain to the top and had a good laugh about our poor route finding skills on the summit.
|Midway up Klin on Anica Kuk|
|Steep and exposed terrain somewhere on Anica Kuk|
|Jonathon starting up the final pitch on Anica Kuk|
After a rest day checking out the historical city of Zadar, we spent our final day climbing up numerous formations in the park. We first checked out the 200 m Senza Pieta (6b+) on Debeli kuk. It was a fantastic route up the sunny face with some really fun slabs, edges and over-hanging terrain. After finishing up that route, we decided to run up the mellow Sjeverno Rebro on Veliki Cuk's West ridge (4b+, 170). Still not quite tired out, we cragged a few more pitches at Klanci for a total of 450 m of climbing and 14 pitches. It was a great end to a fantastic trip in Croatia.
That night we enjoyed beers by the Adriatic Sea, a big plate of meat and of course the complimentary schnapps at the end of meal. I would highly recommend a trip to Croatia. Logistics were easy, most people spoke English and it was not overly expensive. The food was good, the scenery was beautiful and the people were accommodating. Life was simple and easy. Sleep, eat and climb. That's what I call a good vacation!
|Traversing across the crux pitch on Senza Pieta|
|On top of Debeli kuk|
|Checking out the historical city of Zadar|
|View of the harbor in Zadar|
|Sunset in Starigrad|
|View of the Stup and Anica Kuk|