Another fine day, another fine climb, and another horrid descent. This is a simple way to sum up our second multipitch route in Croatia. We started later than planned, although we were pretty sure we could get up and down in the time left. This route was called Stargate and was further along the face from where we had climbed previously, and ascended the entire face. It had a 6a+ grade, and so is at our peak grade for a multipitch route.
Once I started climbing I felt confident of moving quickly over the easier ground that led up to the 6a+ pitch, however from the off I found myself struggling. The slabby start seemed to be devoid of holds and was a bit of a nightmare, the next few pitches were of a similar grain. This caught us off guard somewhat, add to the mix that the route began to climb diagonally right I was beginning to have bad feelings for the descent, although I had to put this out of my mind as the next pitch was the crux of the route.
Before I set off, I just took a couple of minutes to settle myself and get in the right frame of mind. I felt as though I had struggled up the climb so far and would therefore seriously struggle up this pitch, however the opposite happened. As I climbed and clipped into each bolt, I surveyed the upcoming difficulties before the next bolt, judging potential hand and footholds. Through this process I advanced relatively easily through what I knew were harder moves, only once did I have to retreat from a move, reassess and then succeed! I surprised myself so much that when I was at the belay I remember thinking that pulling up the rope seemed more effort than any move on the pitch!
Crux on the bag, we moved on up and the following pitches were easier and easier, ending in a sprint to the finish, as again it felt as though time had caught up with us. We abseiled almost immediately and made haste to get down in daylight. As I had predicted the diagonal traverse of the face was going to be problematic, add to the fact that the abseil stations were different to the bolted route, we were in for some not so fun times. Trying to abseil diagonally is a nightmare, especially when the rope keeps trying to pull you back in line like a pendulum, and before you know it a foot slips and you are cartwheeling the face until you crash into the trees. It was a fucking nightmare!
For about three abseils we were working through or around trees. Once I had to re ascend the abseil rope, so I could get above a whole bunch of trees and rappel diagonally across them to the abseil station on the other side. Each time I threw the ropes no matter how far from the face I flung them, they would catch every bush, tree, branch and shard of rock on the way down, inevitably this would knot the rope, leaving me hanging trying to sort it out as I went. The next big gardening objective was left to jess. Just as the sun went down she was literally abseiling through a mass of trees, trying to get the rope unstuck, and ended up hanging around for an age, all the while ripping branches off in an attempt to get free of the tress and down to the abseil station. From this point on the descent became easier and more logical, following the bolts as well as going straight down. Even though we were again working by headlight, it was much easier and before I knew it I threw one last set of ropes down, and found myself on the floor, taking a couple of seconds to realise this was the bottom!
That night I was so tired and as soon as I lay down my body felt like lead and I dropped off! The next day was an admin day, power, topping up water, wifi, washing, shower, grocery shopping and cleaning the van. All the boring things that need to happen to keep the wheels turning, this also gave us the chance to get out and have a full days climbing the next day, as well as giving us the rest our bodies craved after three days climbing on the bounce!
The next day we headed towards another multipitch route, although, I could not find the road the guidebook wanted us to go down, and the only other way we found had a big ‘mines’ sign on the gate, so we decided against that too. In the end we went back to Omis as we knew there was some climbing crags with free parking and no approach times. We found this crag harder due to the polish and the 5c climb we started on had the hardest moves of all the climbs we went on that day, although I had to aid a 6a+ route, before top roping it. So basically struggled all day!
As we were parked so close to the crag we had lunch in the van, as well as the climbs, there was a basketball court next to the car park so I spent the rest of the afternoon shooting some hoops. We strolled into town that evening for a couple of bits from the supermarket and took a walk along the beach and was rewarded with a fantastic sunset view, which reflected orange across the sea as far as the eye could see. I mentioned to jess that this lifestyle, where we get to stroll on the beach as the sun sets after a days climbing is becoming the norm, and sometimes it’s worth reminding myself not to take it for granted and that before I know it I will be home and searching for a job or working, wishing to be back here!