How I fell in love with rock climbing
Years back while I was still in the early years of studies I got introduced to rock climbing as a term. Lifestyle. Activity. It happened more or less like this:
Mario came one day and said: “I applied for rock climbing school”.
At first, I did not get what does it mean so I probably just nodded. He was hiking all the time, so this was kind of normal to hear. But when his classes started and gradually he would show me some of the climbing gear and explain how does it actually work – I was shocked! Who on the earth would do something so dangerous? He was having his rock climbing tour of Croatia, every week he was spending time at another mountain, learning new stuff we’ll eventually try together.
At first, I was convincing him that he should stop it, something so dangerous like hanging from the cliff, giving your full trust to your climbing partner. I could not understand how can anyone do it.
Of course, he did not listen to me. Actually, he managed to persuade me to go and try climbing – at least in the gym.
After thorough research about safety, I said yes. My first climbing steps were in Fothia climbing gym in Zagreb. As we entered the place, I was pretty nervous but then I saw 5-6 years old children climbing carefree so it made me calmer.
Climbing ‘top rope’ was rather a fun activity and I really enjoyed it after the first climb.
A few months forward, we were visiting indoor climbing rock and boulder a couple of times but I still did not want to go on the real rock. I was afraid. Really.
But you know how good things often happen unexpectedly. So one weekend together with our friends we went to BIH for a barbecue afternoon. Somewhere along the way, I found out that there is a rock climbing site very close to our cottage and that all the company is going to try it. In the end, I was the only one who did not want to do it, but of course, I did not want to break the party and be a coward, I took the challenge with a smile. My first real rock climbing experience was horrible! Trust me, it was one of the craziest moments in my life: at the same time, I was very afraid that I will fall and I was crazy nervous because the route was so hard that I could not move forward at one point. So I was stuck there, in the middle of that, worst of the worst, stupid rock. I could not move forward. And oddly, I did not want to give up. Scared, but stubborn. Tired, but still fighting. The boost of fear, anger, and adrenaline at that point was so strong, I completely forgot about everything around me. About absolutely everything, except my already painful grip, and the fact that I was sweaty like a sinner in a church – probably from a lot of stress.
Eventually, I decided to give up, the rock was for advanced climbers and I was pre-beginner. With both feet finally on the ground, I felt so tired, physically and mentally I can not even explain it. That struggle on the rock, between my body and my mind, was, at that point the worst thing that happened at the moment. Later I will realize that it was one of the best things I got the opportunity to discover. One of the rare activities where you can absolutely shut your mind off. Forget about everything – unread emails, projects that are late, argue with a family member, the list goes on. At that point, being stuck to the rock, grasping that cold rock firmly, all I would think is what is going to be my next move. Strategic plan, think with your mind and body, making small steps forward, closer to the top. After I realized this, I tell you, rock climbing became my favorite activity. That is a time for myself, no other thoughts no other outside voices, just me, fighting with myself, training my mind and overcoming my fears.
Of course, there is your climbing buddy and this trust between climbing buddies is very important. However, I will leave this for some other story.
Best places for rock climbing in Croatia
Croatia has some of the best rock climbing sites in Europe with the most famous being Paklenica national park. It’s a huge canyon near Zadar and it has everything you ever dreamed of. Long routes, short sport climbing routes, traditional alpine routes, everything is right there in one place. When it comes to the beginnings of rock climbing in Croatia there is always one name mentioned more frequently than others and that is Klek mountain. When it comes to where do we climb in Croatia the answer is Makarska Riviera. Biokovo mountain that stretches from Makarska to Ploče has many rock climbing routes and it’s close to us with closest rock climbing site being in Gradac, just 10 minutes of driving away from a place where we live. We even have a guided rock climbing course there through which we introduce our guests with all wonders of rock climbing as an activity. Another place we love and recommend if you are into this activity is the climbing site in Brela, with many routes with different grades.
If you go for rock climbing in Croatia, always take all the necessary equipment with you. Never climb without a helmet and don’t overestimate your possibilities. If you are a beginner we suggest that you find an agency that has certified rock climbing instructors that will lead you safely through your first climbing route.
Whatever you chose and wherever you go, stay safe and enjoy rock climbing in Croatia!