We do love Southern France for what it has to offer, from some of the best sport climbing venues to its beautiful scenery to the wines and cheeses, not to mention the baguettes. And yet, we needed a change at this point of the trip. And the change we were in need came with a taste of Eastern Europe.
From Southern France, we hit the road, crossed Italy West to East and reached Osp - a small village in Slovenia, very close to Italian-Slovenian border which can boast about having probably the best sport climbing in the whole country. We spent two weeks there enjoying the company of our friends Mykolas and Gabrielė.
A couple of words about them. Gabrielė is a fan of cross-fit, able to educate us about jumping jacks, squats, lunges, burpies and whatnot. She does enjoy bouldering but mostly in the gym. Whereas Mykolas is an expert in combining climbing with Gabrielė’s holiday priorities. I just sometimes wish Martynas was as considerate as he is. Many times at 1pm sharp Mykolas gathers his stuff, says goodbye and heads off to the city nearby to have some chill time leaving his project waiting.
One of his projects this time had some special meaning. Some years ago Kipras did his first 8c in Mišja Peč while living alone near the crag and asking random strangers to belay him. It was the first 8c by a Lithuanian climber as well. So the route is in a way special to the whole Lithuanian climbing community, at least for us it is. The route called Rodeo is a vertical tufa in the beginning and gets considerably steeper and harder in the second part. It has a chain in the middle and is 7a up to that chain. Before coming to Slovenia Mykolas promised Kipras to climb Rodeo up to the first chain. I liked his initiative a lot and was happy to witness Mykolas’ progress on the route.
The process of projecting didn’t go without some Polish spices in the cases of a fall. But we are all considerate of the emotions coming out when you work hard on something and it doesn’t go as you wish. So it’s all good and we send peace to all the ones who think it inappropriate. I myself sometimes want to hide when belaying Martynas in such situations. But I also cannot say I was never up there kicking the wall.
Rodeo was quite quick to deal with for Mykolas and he turned his gears to some higher goals. One of the routes Martynas did a couple of days ago was a beautiful and long 7a+ in Osp. Mykolas decided to go for it. We tried to be as supportive as we could as this would push him half grade up. Mykolas showed some serious determination while on the route. There were some delicate situations as well as we all belayed him in turns. We had a saying “No more circus Mykolai this time, right?” each time we he tied in. And yet there were some circus elements, some roaring, some despair, some spicy clipping, some airy falls. It all added up to the belays that are never boring.
I was happy to be there all the time as I myself happened to have a project nearby. It was called Črni biser. Someone told us it means Black Pearl in Slovenian. A nice one that made me push myself to use more power. I was also very lucky to have a very smart coach at hand who told me to skip one draw at the end of the route. So to large extent, it’s a merit of Martynas that I managed to send it.
Martynas himself for some unknown unexplainable reason decided it is necessary for him to do two 7b’s in Slovenia. To make it more interesting he left it for the last day. To be it even more interesting for his dedicated belayer (me) he decided to do them in different crags. So I was dragged from one place to another, while Mykolas and Gabrielė were happily drinking coffee in a cosy cafe. And I was jealously belaying. Not to sound too grumpy, it was for the better as we got to see some of the German kids doing crazy stuff in Mišja Peč. It was some kind of team trip or something and the kids there were properly strong. All going a muerte, frustration turning to tears or roaring or screams, depending on how you deal with it. Very nice and inspiring for a spectator!
That day was our last day climbing outdoors before a three - four week break. We are currently in Lithuania getting ready to get back to living in a van and head to Spain to spend the winter.