Thinking of taking your first vertical steps? Simply looking to add to an already impressive list of climbing conquests? In either case, you should definitely consider the Paklenica climbing possibilities. Calling it the Mecca of mountaineering would be an exagerration, but it is a modern climbing destination that has made its name known at home and abroad.
The sandstone crags holding up bolted climbing routes and the coastal location invite comparison with Spanish rock-climbing destinations near Malaga or Benidorm. These long-time favourites of seasoned climbers offer their best conditions for a climb between autumn and spring. The timetable in Paklenica is pretty much the reverse, so this type of climbing environment is available year-round. The licensing fees, prices of food, accommodation and fuel compare favourably with those in Spain as well.
We hope you will be able to use the information in this entry as handholds to help you reach a decision and visit Paklenica. Please keep reading and by the time the letters run out, you will know what to do.
Paklenica climbing is in season
The scenic canyons of Paklenica are accessed from the small town of Starigrad Paklenica, in the nook of the Velebit channel. To find it on the map, search for the town of Zadar on the Croatian coast. Zadar is a beautiful town with a rich heritage and less than 50 km away from Starigrad. The roads leading to the Paklenica national park are visibly and conveniently marked. They will take you all the way to the Park entrance. In fact, several climbing routes are within short walking distance of the parking lot itself.
March is a fantastic time to plan a rock climbing trip to Paklenica! The season stretches from April all the way to late October, but late April / early May is arguably peak season. This is the date of the annual Big Wall Speed Climbing Paklenica event, scheduled for May 1 – 4 in 2014. The climbing contest is part of a larger International climbers’ meeting that has been organized by hiking and climbing enthusiasts since 2000. With an ever increasing following, the event is starting to morph into a tradition.
Why Paklenica is the foremost climbing site in Croatia?
The first climbing route in Paklenica was completed in 1940 on the rock of Anića kuk. Decades ago climbing was more of a hobby than a sport in the region. Since then, domestic climbers have led the effort to map many more routes alonside their Slovenian colleagues (neighboring Slovenia is an Alpine state, hence it led the way in Yugoslavian winter and mountain sports). As a result Paklenica offers in excess of 360 improved routes, the majority of which are equipped with bolts.
The routes vary in several important ways, which results in the fact that all kinds of climbers – from novices to rock-climbing aces – can come up with a great itinerary for their stay in Paklenica. The routes belong to different grades of difficulty, however most are moderately challenging. The longest routes are some of the classic ones on Anića kuk, such as Mosoraški, Funkcija and Klin. While they measure up to 350 m, most other routes are shorter. They are also distributed among three climbing styles: single- and multi-pitched sports routes, and trad routes which require climbers to affix nuts and cams. Single-pitched sports routes are clustered in the vicinity of the Paklenica national park entrance.
Some Paklenica climbing Dos and Don’ts
We would like to end with some common sense climbing tips that are nonetheless worth repeating.
DO use protective gear – Something as basic as a helmet greatly increases a climber’s safety. Check your climbing gear for fractures, wear and other indications that it may be unsafe. When buying, look out for the certificate confirming that the product has been tested. Tired as we are of hearing it, safety is paramount.
DON’T climb alone – The Paklenica national park authorities have a good reason to insist on climbing as a group activity. Experienced climbers will tell you a climbing partner is essential. Hiring an instructor is likely a terrific option for beginners. Basic technique and maximizing your endurance are best taught out on the rock. Also, you want someone to witness your undertaking.
DO plan ahead – Browse our website to rent an apartment in Starigrad Paklenica in advance. Inquire about the characteristics of your climbing route. Make sure the grade of difficulty, length and quality of the on-site gear that await you conform to your expectations. It might be a good idea to purchase a local climbing guide. Recent editions are fairly exhaustive and will set you back about € 20. It is definitely a good idea for your party to have a review session to make sure you can handle your equipment properly. Every minute spent planning saves an hour down the line.
DON’T oversleep – if you are barely able to drag yourself out of bed for lunch, you probably do not count yourself among the top sports climbers on the continent. Still, since it gets quite hot in Dalmatia in the height of summer, it is advisable to make the most of the morning hours when Paklenica climbing. A pair of shades will keep you looking cool, but will likely not stop you from sweating. And if you ever feel the need to take a break from climbing (it happens), you can always take advantage of the sun at the Starigrad Paklenica beach and distract yourself with water sports.