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Автор: : Ilya Tchugereev, Moscow
Фото: Ilya Tchugereev, Shtelmashenko Vladimir, Sergeev Andrew

Trip to Croatia

Part 2.

Once upon in summer, having gathered in our friends’ country-house, we were taking a decision where we would go in September. We thought that we always would have enough time to go to the Crimea, as it was not far from Moscow and not expensive, but we wanted something more fresh. So, we had chosen Croatia as it was not necessary to make visas to visit the country and it was also easy to reach it by car. Apropos, in spite of the fact that visas are not necessary, when crossing the boundary you have to prevent voucher of the hotel where you are going to stay or the original of notarized invitation of the citizen in Croatia who agrees to provide you with apartments. As we knew where we would go in Croatia – the region of the canyon Big Paklenica, the nearest town was called Starigrad-Paklenica, we began to look for accommodation beforehand, with the help of the internet. We settled on a very good variant – 8 euro per person per day, 50 meters from the seashore and about a kilometer and a half from the entrance to the National Park Paklenica.

The owner of apartments.
A very sociable owner of apartments, Marian Busleta, without any problems sent us invitations by post, having asked us to pay for 20% of supposed sum for staying in his hotel. We were going to drive via Ukraine and Hungary, in order to reduce the amount of countries with visa regimes of entrance. And the long history with getting visas to Hungary started. It appeared that there were a lot of persons wishing to go to Hungary in that time of year and it was necessary to sing up for sending the documents in 3 weeks before, and our turn came at the 4 th of September, we planned to set for the trip at the 9 th of September, minimal term of getting visas equaled 7 days. With great difficulties we convinced the woman in the window to try to give us our visas although at the 10 th of September. The matter was that my wife had tickets to the airplane to Zagreb to the 12 th of September. We had planned that on the 12 th we would reach Zagreb, would take here from the airport and would drive to the seashore to Starigrad. But it was not to be. Passing the boundaries between Russia and Ukraine and between Ukraine and Hungary needed individual account, as well as Ukraine roads, especially way from Briansk to Kiev. At the moment there are no roads at all!!!
But using four-wheel drive jeep and neighboring fields and glades we heroically passed that strip (it was natural jeepping). Taking into account all the matters with visas, “roads” and borders, we reached Zagreb only on the 13 th of September in the afternoon. We drove along the city a little, took my wife and went to Starigrad. From Zagreb we took highway and reached Starigrad in about two o’clock in the night. Apropos, roads there were rather expensive – abut one kuna per one kilometer, but they were very good. A free road always went parallel to chargeable one, but it strongly twisted and went through settlements. Fuel there was also not cheep – one liter of Diesel engine cost about one euro. Petrol, correspondently, more expensive. But it was defensibly to go by car as it was not possible to rent the car less than for 50 euro per day, may be only fuel-efficient car, and it was not interesting to stay in Croatia without a car. On the days-off from climbing and making ascents we waned to travel along that magic mountain country.

Walls in the park Paklenica

Walls in the park Paklenica

On the first day we decided to warm-up. The program we had was rich as we planned to walk a lot. We went to the national park Paklenica. On the entrance we learnt that entry was chargeable and it one day cost 30 kun (150 rubles), but if you took a season ticket for 5 days, the price reduced twice. Apropos, the ticket could be used during a month, it meant that you shouldn’t go there every day. And there also was a path by the barrier through bushes, in all the cases in the park no one would check your tickets. And generally in Croatia you could choose yourself to pay or not to pay. We paid. The national park was very improved: paths were asphalted, there were small shops, free comfortable toilets, make a long story short, there was comfort. The national park presented a big canyon that started like the canyon of Nikita in the Crimea, but wall slightly became higher and higher and the canyon moved apart, ending with a separately standing leading massif Anica Kuk.

Massif Anica Kuk

The absolute altitude of it was 712 meters above sea-level, the climb of the wall equals about 400 meters in its central highest part. At the entrance we bought super guide-book of all the Paklenica, with the deion of all sport-climbing lines and alpinistic routes. It cost 150 kun (750 rubles). And we were going, listing the guide and choosing, where we would climb, we turned our heads left and right. Most of the routes were signed downwards. There were different routes: from third grade of difficulty to 8b. But there was specificity. It was only my own opinion. But, if you want to climb the routes 4c+ - 5a! along the overhang! – you have to go to Paklenica. Moreover, the extension of the lines was up to 30 meters. I used to count that all the easy routes we had were called 5a, so I was rather surprised with their classification. But the higher the grade of difficulty was, the more it liked our. And at the level of about 6c+ - 7a it corresponded to the level of routes in Moscow Palace of Children Sport. At any case, in my opinion. The structure of the rock was limestone, like Crimea one, but it was more monolithic for its essence and more interesting for the specialties of the relief. There were absolutely phenomenal vertical gutters, like in America. And at the routes under the cornices stalactites and stalagmites could be come across. There were lots of people in Paklenica, but queue didn’t formed. There were climbers from Germany and Austria most of all. So, who know German well, Paklenica is a very nice place in all cases.

On the first day we didn’t climb steep routes, chose 6a+ - 6b. We were glad we could pass the routes on-sight and got used to climb along such a relief. I enjoyed passing routes of 7a+ grade of difficulty on-sight in the Crimea less.

The next day we decided to pass an alpinistic route and tried our forces. We chose the massif Debeli Kuk – Stup, the route Slovenski (PIPS).

A part of the massif Debeli Kuk
There were seven ropes, average necessary level of climbing 5c – 6a. The rope of 60 meters long was recommended. In the deion it was said that the route was completely carved and we understood it literally, and went there like to the multipitch, in our, Russian, understanding. But according to a habit I took a small set of nuts with me and began to use it at the second rope, when in one place space between bolts equaled no less than 4 meters, and I was afraid to sit to the belayers head if I would fall down. Apropos, according to the deion the rope was of 5c grade of difficulty only, but we appreciated it like 6b according to the level of climbing. The key strip, that was 6a according to the deion we passed even without noticing.

View to the Anica Kuk from the top of Debeli Kuk

Ii was impossible to descend from Debeli Kuk by path, so we had to descend using special devices. It was necessary to have two ropes of 60 meters long. We had only one (Volodia, my partner, asked me not to took the second rope as he wanted to climb along the route and everyone understood that the harder the rucksack was, the more difficult it was to climb). So, we had to descend with one rope. It was impossible to descend along the classical route of descending with devices, so we went along the line of ascent. We didn’t hit special stations. On the fourth rope I reached the station with great difficulties as it was in a meter below me and the rope “ended at all”. And when I was fastening to the station, I ped the washer. Having remembered myself with unkindly word, I prepared to descend further with the help of only karabiner. I saw Volodia descending to me and at the moment, against a background of sunset, something separated from him and, having not touched the wall (the route had small cornices) fell down passing we. Volodia reached me and, unkindly smiling, said: “My walkie-talkie flew down”. We laughed at each other. We had never had such a route. We went down. Volodia packed the rope and I went to the nearest bushes – according to the experience we got at El Capitan, I hoped to find everything. And here it was – my washer…! And the walkie-talkie…! Without cover and batteries, but it was safe! At the next day we found the cover, too! And the walkie-talkie operated – it was a mystery!

The next day was day-off. We decided to go to the nearest large city – Zadar. It was a city in the Northern Dalmatsia, in about 40 kilometers from Starigrad, there was a port, it was the motherland of the most well-known liqueur “Maraskino” of 32 degrees proof. It was drunk smartly. Cherry, of which that liqueur was made, grew only in the region of Zadar. Old part of the city was very pleasant, there were different buildings of 11-13 th centuries that were in a very nice condition, the pavement of white stone of the time of domination of Rome was polished up to glitter. It was an interesting feeling: we walked in modern Italian running shoes Scarpa along the same roads along which hundreds years ago Rome legionnaires walked in their heeled caligae…

The next morning we went to the bottom of Anica Kuk. We had chosen the route Mosoraski. It was the only cloudy day for all the time we spent in Croatia. And the owner of our apartments didn’t recommend us to make the ascent, but we wanted very much to come to the bottom of the wall and to see the route. And how we could go there without equipment – it was not far in any case. Mosoraski was the most popular route on Anica Kuk. There were nine ropes. But it was possible to reduce the amount of ropes if you climbed to all the extension of the rope and made your own stations. The route could be appreciated as powerful route of 4 grade of difficulty. The highest level of climbing there equaled 5c. Climbing there was pleasant and rather even. In good sunny days it was “high way” along which teams climbed one after another, like in the Crimea on the Foros Kant. There beginning of the route was very unusual: a hypertrophied rocky hook, of about 40 cm long was hammered in the wall and huge steel karabiner hung on it, it was also about 40 cm large, so it was difficult to miss the beginning of that route. We climbed and at that time at about the middle of the route it started raining. And we waited while it stopped staying on the station under the overhang, rounding which the route went. Thankfully, ten minutes later it stopped raining and 15 minutes later more the wall became dry and we went on making our ascent. We reached the top of Anica Kuk and became impressed a lot – I had never seen before such summits. The relief there was simply like on other planets, it looked like most of all a strongly melted glacier with deep cracks, merlons, rocks, upper sides of which looked like razors and saws.

View from Anica Kuk in a cloudy day.

I had never seen before such amount of sand-glasses of all forms and sizes. I told Volodia stories that there mountain trolls and goblins had to live, it was obvious. Along all the gullies, rounding the most ominous a marked path went, from all the routes.

Path from the top of Anica Kuk.
Generally speaking, mountain service in Croatia was at the high level. All the bolts on the routes were new and hooks, left there were suitable for organizing the belay. On the highest point of the Anica Kuk there was a sign built and in any case that summit looked like pagan heathen.



To be continuing...

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