Also in This Style
Posted on: September 1, 2003
At the end of June 1990, after our university exams and just before a climbing trip to the United States, a climbing partner and I visited Paklenica. We were surprised to find that the Remy brothers from Switzerland had put up two new routes on the 350-meter walls of Anica Kuk. Later we learned that they had started a new era at Paklenica, climbing big-wall routes (routes that seemed unclimbable by our more traditional approach via cracks) with an electric drill on the blank rock. Making a first free ascent of a route named Welcome, I realized that this type of climbing makes for great fun. The next summer I planned to do something similar on my own; however, the onset of war in the former Yugoslavia stopped any progression at Paklenica for several years.
After the war was over, locals Boris Cujic and Ivica Matkovic started re-equipping old routes and establishing new routes with bolts. Also at this time, more and more climbers started to visit Paklenica from all over Europe. After climbing Just Do It (5.14b) at Smith Rocks in 1997, I focused more and more on family and business. Crashing my Ducati took me out of climbing for some time. During the recovery I had plenty of time to think about things I really wanted to do. I had a hard time when I started to climb again. In my mind I was still a 5.14 climber, but my body did not agree.
Returning to Paklenica in 2000, I found that there was little room for new routes, but a line I had been dreaming about was still available! For a belayer on the first pitch I took my sisters non-climbing boyfriend, because I could not find anyone else that day. Later I established the route with many different climbers, but only the legendary Silvo Karo and my wife Alenka did not argue about coming with me, even though it is really not great fun hanging at a belay for a day.
The rock was not very good on the first half of the route, and progress was slow. Establishing the route from the ground up, the higher I went, the fewer the climbers who were prepared to join me. In the end I finally gave up and finished the final three and a half easier pitches from the top down.
In winter of 2002/03 I trained hard until I could climb up to 5.14b again. After two days on the route I redpointed it, taking one fall on the last pitch.
As always, things seem to be easier after we do them. Giving the Spider (V 8a [5.13b], 350m) a grade was not something I really liked to do. After some friends tried the route, we agreed that it is somewhere around 8a. But it is not the grade that really counts, it is the story behind the climb that is often much more important.
- Marko Lukic, Maribor, Slovenia