Paklenica, Croatia

This is where I ended up 8 hours after I landed in Milan this July. This was where the weather was dry (and a bit warm) but the climbing was awesome. This climbing and hiking park is located on the coast of Croatia next to Starigrad. The beach is at the head of the canyon and boasts tons of bolted and partial gear climbs.

Details: you have to pay a parking fee and a personal user fee each day that you enter the park. I think that to park a car is 10 dollars a day and a individual persons pass was 5 dollars a day. (Remember I am talking about the Croatian Kuna which at the time was 1 : 6.3 when compared to the US dollar (which means that your dollar goes far)). Anyway, the climbing is worth it. You can go to the restroom in the canyon (in very nice well kept tunnels) built into the canyon walls. If you need a guidebook just buy it in the canyon while you are walking in past the initial climbs. There is a plethora of beginner and intermediate climbs from single pitch to multipitch spread from 1 minute from your car to about an hour. The trails are well marked and many of the most popular climbs have labels to make it easier to find what you are looking for. The walls are labeled as are the trails and you have routes in the shade all day depending on what side of the canyon that you are climbing.

We chose to climb a few the 300 meter routes (which would be a great practice) for the hopefully dry conditions in the Dolomites that we were hoping for later in our trip. Each of the routes required plenty of quick draws and a single set of cams to supplement spaces between a few of the bolts. The grey limestone was incredible to climb and we got to experience some wild runnel grips made from water carving through the rock.

My partner Mike and I were here waiting out the Alp rain that we encountered upon arrival. You may ask why we drove this far south? The answer is that I have climbed at many of the other drier options closer to the Dolomites and I didn’t fly to Europe to sport climb(not that it isn’t great here), I just wanted to climb long routes. Paklenica has both with dry weather so it was a good choice.

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Whew

At Rifle today and I saw a parent forcing their kid up a route to the point of screaming, absolute terror, more screaming and tears. I never knew this was what climbing was all about. There had to be 30 or more people at the base of the wall watching and listening to the total meltdown of the youngster and to the parent not lowering their kid. I am not trying to be judgmental, but making your kid cry while “doing a sport or activity” doesn’t seem to make for fond memories for that kid. I suspect that it will lead to hatred in the long run.

I would love it if my own kids grow up passionate about climbing, but the last thing that I will do is force them to do it.

On a positive note, I did see a bunch or younger climbers at Rifle today who were having fun and enjoying being outside, hanging with friends and climbing. It is amazing to me to think of how the climber population has changed in Rifle. I have observed over the last 20 years how it has gone from being primarily males in their 20’s to families and now back to the college age climbers. As for the rest of the climbers, they are teachers, professors, engineers, programmers, students and professionals all coming together to try their fitness (mentally and physically) on the canyon’s walls. Who would have thought this place would become so special to so many people.

Remember, climbing (as with any activity) is supposed to be fun and bring joy.  Be sure that you are a part of the positive when you are out there enjoying yourself.

Four Days into Summer Break

I have been lame at taking photos for quite some time. I am working on it. Anyway, the kids and I have been busy in the first four days of break.

Day 1: We slept in due to the fact that we stayed up past the boys 7:30pm bed time. The end of the year staff party at a coworkers home was great fun. The had a beautiful home in Grand Junction with all the entertaining amenities. In ground pool, big backyard, huge trees for shade, multiple corn-hole games and a deck that surrounded everything. The boys immediately jumped into the pool and enjoyed 3 hours of splashing and retrieving underwater toys. After Orson drank too much pool water they took a break and ate some hamburgers and hot dogs and played corn-hole. Rowan had one of the house dogs eat his burger right out of his hands and learned a valuable lesson about dogs and picnics.

Day 2: We played cards in the morning after making homemade pancakes. Then we headed to the JUCO game at 10am. JUCO stands for the Junior College World Series. I was told its all the kids who couldn’t perform academically in a D1 school that have the talent to go pro. Who knows. The game we watched was 9-0 and pretty good until the meltdown occurred and the loosing teams pitcher beaned one of the batters. After that they called the game because they earned 9 unanswered runs. Rowan is super competitive and loved watching the game and keeping track of balls and strikes. Orson sat in my lap and enjoyed all the stimulation from the fans and the game. Then it was back home for a Treadwall session and then a mini construction session. I built a swing shower. I used a long piece of 2 inch PVC pipe and drilled a bunch of holes on one side in a row about 2 inches from each other. Then I attached it to the bar over my swing set with a hose in it. I turned on the hose and let the water create a shower over the two swings and then a waterfall off the end of the pipe. The boys were engaged for the rest of the day. It was awesome. I watched and wrote lesson plans for next school year.

Day 3: We were supposed to meet Mike B at Rifle to play and climb but he re injured his foot and we were able to change plans. So we finished packing for Ohio and seeing my parents and then drove east. We stopped to hike a canyon off the interstate and got eaten by gnats. Then ate lunch at the river in Newcastle and looked for disc golf Frisbee in the tall grass along the river. After that we walked over the new bridge in Glenwood Canyon and checked out a rock shop that made the boys drool. After that we hiked Grizlee creek in Glenwood Cayon until an afternoon shower came in. Finally, we crashed at Mike B’s house in Eagle where we ate dinner and made smores to one of the finest backdrops in Colorado.

Day 4: We were supposed to climb a Flatiron with Timmy Oneil but Rowan felt sick all morning and we had to abort that mission. We ended up hiking in Morrison and explored the dinosaur tracks and fossils. Then we stopped at my old place in Golden and rested until Rowan felt better. In no time we were on Clear Creek playing on the river and in the park. After lunch we bought some new shoes for Rowan since his sneakers were beat. Since Earthtreks Golden was so close we popped in for a session and hung out with the great Charlie Mace and Dan Mirsky. I belayed my boys until they couldn’t do routes anymore and then they bouldered until they were pooped. After a little WWE wrestling on the mats we made a huge chicken and rice dinner and pulled weeds in the front yard of my old roommates place.

Day 5: Going to climb in Eldo with the boys and take them on a multipitch cause it’s supposed to rain in town and we don’t have them time to do the whole Flatiron. Then it will be off to SCARPA to visit the North American headquarters and bs with the crew.

Day 6: Waterworld, need I say more. Every kid should get to go there at least once a summer. I vow to make that happen for my boys and Thursday will be that day.

Day 7: Fly to Ohio to see the family. Let the good times roll.

See you all soon.

Summer Vacation

It is finally here. Another year in the books teaching high school. I have 15 years teaching under my belt at this point and can’t believe how quickly school years fly by.

This summer I have a few plans. As usual, I will head to Ohio with my kids to visit my family. I will also take a climbing trip to Europe and try to climb a few mountains and big walls if the weather cooperates. Then I will head to the Arcteryx Climbing Academy in Squamish to teach and climb a few pitches. After that it is the Outdoor Retailer trade show time in Denver. Finally, after all that work begins again at my high school. Once back, I will have to design new curriculum, help train the two new science teachers at my school and meet about 150 new learners.

In the meantime, I will go camping, fish, hike, swim and play in the mountains with my boys and try to enjoy the down time between teaching. Today was my last day and I was so tired that I felt like I couldn’t even enter the final grades in the computer. A task that is so simple, felt overwhelming at the end of the year. I will recover in a few days and be excited again, but right now I am beat.

If you are in Cleveland in June, look me up I will be hanging with my parents and training at the Cleveland Rock Gym at night. If you are in the Dolomites in July, drop me a line and maybe we can meet up on a big wall and trade some belays! And if you are in Squamish in mid July take a class withe me and find out why I break cams.

Looking forward to the rest of 2018 because the first half has worn me down.

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