It all began like many an ordinary weekend day off and my mind started planning to finish some carpentry project I’d started the other day or maybe a walk along the seaside or old villages on the outskirts of Rijeka, that would have been an ordinary day – today was not going to be one of those days.
Someone walked into my room and said “do you want to go free climbing?” I hummed and hawed but really could not find a good excuse fast enough so I was drafted as the fourth man and we were off.
I’d heard of their hobby of free climbing and seen pictures, it seemed to make sense or at least they seemed to tell it that way as they do it often and for years now, that is where I start to differ, at least for now.
We got to the Vela Draga area part of the Učka Mountain and pretected park area. It was just fantastically beautiful, I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon but this must be a smaller Croatian version as these cliffs just look like some great water rush left the and agape in a unique way kind of like the tide does on a beach when the tide is out.
There is something about being 10 meters up and hanging on with your fingertips and toes that send reason rushing to your brain and you ask yourself “why am I doing this?” why did I not think of that when I was still on the ground and not hugging a rock for dear life?
Well it was an experience, I do not mind the height that much (I did not go that high up) but there is something unnatural about it, it is not our element, kind of like swimming yet we as humans seem to have a need to try to conquer it none the less.
I understand and actually loved the technique part of it like harnesses, knots, clips, being safety and being lowered down etc, and I see the practical uses for them in survival or rescue or just mountain hiking but as a sport I really do not see the thrill or purpose in hugging various parts of a mountain for 10-15 minute climbs just to come right back down again and go up another. To me that seems like those who high-dive just to get out of the pool and dive back in over and over, I just don’t see the point. I like some risk but not just for the sake of it, perhaps it will grow on me if I do it more but I’d rather water ski, hike, mountain bike or a variety of other sports then this again, there just does not seem to have a proper build up, delivery or pay off. I think I mainly did it because I respect the opinions of those I was climbing with but that is really not a good enough reason to me, I do not believe in being a follower just to win approval or be in, and never have, and I know they understand.
Overall I’d rate this experience a 10 just for the nature aspect and the learning experience, but if you were not born a gecko, don’t feel bad, just experience this wonderful place anyways if you have the chance.
We meet many others that day also climbing including from Slovenia; I thought they had plenty of mountains but I guess not like these or that they still were worth the trip. One instructor with another group of first-timers said he goes to Yosemite Park and climes 350 meter climbs in two days, how can you ever be worked up about finding a parking space or the things we worry about here in this world after something like that and worrying about hanging off mountains from your toes for two days and perching your tent off harnesses on the cliff etc. I’ve seen it before in magazines and I think I’ll stick to that version of things for now.
The location was just phenomenal though, I’d love to shoot a music video out there as it is just total wilderness, there is a highway and rail line but these big cliffs and rocks jutting out of the ground give it a real awe-inspiring feel that would be nice to capture on video.