Christmas and Feb half term were spent climbing in the sun above Moustiers Sainte-Marie in the beautiful Gorges du Verdon. As usual, the crags were very quiet, the climbing fantastic and the grades were tough.
|Bipolaire, 7a at Courchon|
|Olivier red pointing Un air de famille, 7c+ at Corchon|
|Casse-bonbons, 7c+ at Baume Blanche|
Throughout the winter we've been using our board quite a lot for bouldering and for circuits. Elaine has made really good progress, especially on the circuits and her fingers are working well at the moment, despite some soreness/stiffness afterwards. My training was going well, with the specific goals of getting fit enough to do the two big ones that beat me last year (Et dieu creer la flamme and Triste Lune) hopefully quickly and early on in May. Outside, I managed to do Christophe Louis' fantastic Inch of dust (7c+) at Le Discret in one session, although I had tried the start previously.
Easter was coming and we fancied going somewhere new (at least for us) and quiet. That obviously meant going in the opposite direction to usual, ie. not towards Spain! We decided to head to Slovenia and Croatia, specifically the crags at Osp and Buzetski Kanjon. We were amazed how quick and easy it is to get there: only 8 hours! However, you do have to suffer the crazy Italian drivers (never a pleasure). Initially, we were both suffering from colds and allergies, so after one night on the village campsite (which is very basic and expensive) we moved into a lovely modern hostel, which we had all to ourselves (apart from 2 nights) for the whole time. Apartmaji Pod Kostanji is run by Carmen (who speaks English and many other languages) and is not much more than the cost of camping. Fully recommended!
|Lukjna cave at Osp. Wow!! Very steep and very big.|
Misja Pec (Osp); Awesome with plenty of king lines but it's so polished. Basically we were about 25 years too late, seriously! The 7a warm ups were nails and finished you off for the day! I wasn't brave enough to try anything harder than 7b, and that took me 3 goes.
Befana (Buzetski): More climber friendly, not polished and normal grades. Long routes but a fairly small sector. Busy. Great for 7a up to 7c up overhanging tufas.
|Befana, 7c at Buzetski Kanjon|
Lukjna (Osp): This is totally world class and like a bigger version of Grande Grotta. Stamina is the name of the game here. Very steep climbing on tufa blobs with lots of funky climbing, ie. knee bars and heel hooks. Some of the routes here are 55 metres, so you need a long rope (through the draws are in place on most). This crag has the highest concentration of hard routes in Slovenia, apparently. The left wall has about 8 routes between 7a and 7c up tufas, all of which are about 30 metres long. The main cave is another world and just has to be tried. Interestingly, it gets flooded most winters and there's a lake at the bottom (a very deep lake from the clearly visible high water mark!). The perfect crag, whether you're trying to red point your first 7a or 9a, as long as you like your climbing on the beefy side!
|Trzaska smer, 7b+|
|Ana working Helihopter v omaki, 8b|
|Approaching the crux on Trojanski konj, 7c+ (same start as Laokoon, 8a)|
|Bitka s stalaktiti, 8b and 55m long. Looks so good.|
|The 8a part of Active discharge|
Elaine had a great indoor session at Plus Climbing gym in Koper. Lots of volumes and World Cup style bouldering.
All was going so well, until the last go, on the last day. A partial tear to my right supra-spinatus means that I'm now out of action. Not sure how long that's going to be at the moment, until an arthroscanner tomorrow and a visit to a shoulder specialist next week. Physio is going well, so it might not need surgery and could mean climbing this summer. Obviously, those 2 Verdon projects are not going to happen this year! Still, can't complain: 43 years of climbing virtually non-stop every weekend, mid-week and holiday. Apart from 3 enforced layoffs due to broken bones (one motor bike crash and two climbing accidents when I was very young) I've been very lucky and have had no real injuries. It's obviously pay-back time. I'm enjoying the chance to have a well earned rest.