Monday, July 27, 2009

Croatia (Omis), Slovenia (Marja Pec/ Osp), (Italy, Austria, Munich,) Frankejnjura, Ceuse, Orpierre

Well, It's been a bit of a haul.

Nathan, Dean, Cheri, Heather, and I spent a few more days chasing good weather in Croatia. Had a few more days of climbing in hot/ off-and-on rain in Croatia with the crew. The rain increased, though, and Nathan, Cheri, and I rented a car and got outta Croatia en route to Munich via Slovenia, Italy, and Austria.

We made a brief stopover in Osp, Slovenia. Not surprisingly, it was super hot with afternoon rain- but nonetheless we decided to brave the weather and head up to the crag of Misja Pec . Despite rain, it was a great climbing afternoon- and we got in a really quick 6 or 7 pitches.

After Misja Pec, we traveled by car through Slovenia and Austria- both extremely mountainous and beutiuful, and then into Munich where Nathan and Cheri were to catch a plane home. I embarked on a long public transportation/ pedestrian journey to Frankenjura...

I arrived in Untertrubach, location of the famous "Oma" (Granny) Eichler, owner of the climber campground Gasthof Eichler ( Martha is a splendid lady who kindly spoke with clearly articulated German, that I could understand her and reply using my 8-years-expired German language skills. As has been the case, seemingly, with everywere I've travelled this spring (Red River Gorge, Spain, whatever), this was the wettest conditions many of the locals have ever seen-- so we climbed, but we climbed on wet rocks.

Unfortunately, the weather never really cleared, and also I never wrapped my head around the climbing at Frankenjura. It seems that each day I climbed, I got worse! I think a number of factors contributed to this: the high heat and wetness, very high humidity, seeping rocks, strangely-shaped, finger-strength-intensive pockets, awkward clipping stances, greased and knobby foot edges, and oft very spaced bolt placements... these all surely contributed to the problems I had...

But I suppose I felt that the problem I there was that I never figured out how to climb "well"- I never really figured out how to best relax in strenuous situations-- with straigh-arm clips, creative body positioning, dropped heels, minimal "gripping", smart bolt clipping (if that means clipping at or above the bolt)-- but rather, I felt the climbing and conditions required over-gripping (which here seemed necessary), poor clipping stances (strenuous), bad foot technique, etc, etc... in other words- I just never figured out how to climb it properly.

So I busted a hasty move to Ceuse.
Turns out Ceuse is truly a climber's paradise. The camping is plush (FREE hot showers, plenty of shade trees, relaxed international community), the lifestyle is great: beautiful approach hike, long mornings in the campsite, and spectacular limestone.
I'm getting a proper beat-down. It's no secret that the hike is long, the climbing is sustained, and the bolts are spaced. And it's still really affecting me, but it seems that this is just part of the hazing process that everyone must go through. Boot camp, in a sense. Still, though, it's one of the best places in the world for such a pummeling.

So I've relented a bit and am allowing myself more rest days, later mornings, etc, etc.... I'm really settling in now. I have a caravan of my own (!!!) and am now able to get some work done here and there. I've already watched a few major sets of people come and go in my three weeks here, and I'm really enjoying the fact that I get to be the one staying behind for once!

I'm also trying to take side trips when the opportunity arrises. Though Ceuse is freaking RAD, it's also a good place to leave for a while... take a break from the hike, the run-outs, etc.... and come back with a refreshed mind and a true appreciation for the place. as

More soon. Peace from southern France!
-Christine Balaz

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