Savage Craic Climbing Trip - Paklenica, Croatia
Holiday definition - ‘a time of rest from ones work……’
Bootcamp definition - ‘a training camp for new recruits to the US Navy or Marine Corps’
So I embarked on my first climbing trip abroad on the 22nd August, 2011with a few of the savage craic heads and I was far from disappointed.
Upon arrival at Dublin Airport with Mr. Mike McCoy, who neglected to tell me until queuing for the scanners that he has his bag of chalk and whole rack in his carry on, so starting to sweat and having flash forwards of the last few episodes of banged up abroad, we now have the potential to be 2 kidnappers with serious cocaine habits! Well just a few long gazes later from suspicious members of security we get through. So we craic on and meet the rest of the posey; Kat, Lynn (and of course, the ultimate funny man, Snorkelling King Maurice), Petras and Vaidas who combined are now known as the fabulous duo ‘Vaitras’, we board our luxury Ryanair flight to climbers paradise.
Day 1: We rise at 8am and commence our 1hr hike to Paklenica National Park. The views, landscape are breathtaking, the trees, rocks roll into immense blue skies, birds, butterflies, insects, smells, everything that encompasses nature is here in this one place. We continue walking and reach the centre of Paklenica NP, the butterflies are now suddenly in your stomach, it’s a climbers mecca. You just want to touch the rock, like children who don’t get to play too often we go for it!
Later that evening we discuss the next day's plan of action whilst Maurice looks on in horror at this pack of masochistic craic-pots who actually are excited at the prospect of arising at 5.30am the next day to climb.
Let's Multi-pitch - Battle against the Sun Gods!!!!
Day 3 brings the biggest challenge of the week,a 250m multi-pitch, so we do our normal 5.30am rise, like a scene out of ‘M.A.S.H’ - this is war, and hit the bottom of a beautiful crag. Lynn and Kat go first into battle followed by me and Mike. We don’t take into account the searing sun's position and ¾ way up we realise we are in trouble. With little fluids between us and 37C frying us, no direct route to the bottom, and no abseil ring to set up on top of what is supposedly a sports climb, this is worrying! The Splay Queen, Katarina bravely heads off first to check out a way down whilst The Crimping Princess, Lynn belays balancing herself over a loose boulder (scenes from 127hrs play in all our heads). I am the new kid on the block and with Mike McCoy's calmness you never feel like you are in trouble. I have faith that I am in good hands so the nerves never really kick in……. Lynn goes to check on Kat as the rope is snagging. Eventually she finds a very traumatised Kat, so traumatised in fact she has her tits out! Apparently Kat's survival technique is to cool herself down by striping naked while she carries on giving effective direction to her fellow climbers; sunstroke affects people in ways you could never imagine! Miraculously Lynn doesn’t even cop the Slovakian Babe's bosoms she's so busy with the rope work. Finally we all back climb down approx 100m of roasting rock, I am first down and reach Kat who orders me to ‘take off your top and bra‘! Feeling a bit threatened and slightly molested I slip my straps down and think ‘that’s all that’s coming off you lunatic! My fried eggs are already fried and no more heat is required on those babies‘ (and after all we want Mike get down here in one piece). With severe tiredness on board and feet that would fry rashers with the heat of the pain that throbs through your climbing shoes, we continue ‘surfing’ down the scree path to the forest below that will be our sun umbrella. Some choose to arse it down (this being me!) whilst trying to hold back tears from the pain. We eventually make it to the bottom, finally reaching our base-camp to collect our bags. We guzzle our water and stuff doughnuts into our gobs to carb-up our bodies, and suddenly the smiles return and we continue on our adventure. So lessons were learned, sweat and near tears did flow.
We head back to our apartment and decide tomorrow is a well deserved rest day.
The other thing Savage Craic heads are good at..... ‘drinking’. So later that night, still suffering from the sun, the wine & cocktails naturally go to my head and totally out of character I climb the rafters of the pub (literally) - next stop - we are asked to leave the pub, ah well at least I got another climb in before bed :)! Happy Days….
Rest of Holiday - bring on the single pitches, oooohhhhhh yaaaaaa!!!!!:):)
What an experience this was for me, so with the guidance of Mike Batman McCoy I take on my first lead climb, and immediately I am hooked. 3 days later with brilliant tutors encouraging me, I have notched up 4 lead climbs on my harness bedpost, 3a, 4b, 4c and a 5a. The feeling is very hard to describe, that disco leg you hear other climbers talk about turns into a rave, your arms pulsate with adrenaline, you curse at the rock, you kiss the rock, the feeling at the top, your body is put in positions that you never thought possible but are amazingly comfortable to reach the ultimate jug, get that heal hook just right, traverse left/right, technique, technique, technique :)
This was one of the most worth while and physically challenging holidays of my life. To all the savage craic heads who invited me along; Kat with your ability to hold onto nothing and to spread those legs like the arms of a clock, Lynn with your crimping finger strength alone you can climb anything, Mike your technique, balance and calmness is top class, Petras (spiderman) strength and of course love of scorpions; class climber and Vaidas (Superman) climbing a 6c on-sight, amazingly talented climber, keep it up! You all have serious individual climbing talent :) And of course to the savage craic heads we left at home, each of you have welcomed me into the group since I started climbing in January 2011, taught me new techniques, given me safety advice, and guidance, had patience, the list is endless. You never stop learning in this game. I am truly grateful for everything you have all shown me, I look up to you all and I am immensely proud to have shared climbing experiences and laughs (and man do we know how to laugh) with you all, you guys are a credit to society, it’s a privilege to be part of the Savage Craic Climbing Club:)
PS: for anyone who goes to Paklenica in the future, note the 4 arse trails beside the 10th right multi-pitch, if you look closely it spells SAVAGE CRAIC!!!!!