Mosoraskalgia (aka Mosoraski 6a + Nostalgia 6b): Paklenica National Park

This is my first trip report on a climb ever... but as it was sortof an interesting story, I thought I might as well share (and perhaps help a few other climbers looking to do this route).

We were a group of three, planning to climb at Paklenica National Park in Croatia for a few days in April, a good shoulder season time, but with variable weather. (A 5 day pass - used within 30 days - costs 120 kuna per person, and parking in the tiny lot costs 10 kuna per day). Going into it, we didn't have many plans other than just to climb. The first two days we were there, the forecast wasn't the most ideal, with threats of rain and thunderstorms on and off. It didn't stop us (nor any of the other groups of climbers we saw), and we climbed in the park regardless.

To get used to the routes here, we started off with a few right off of the pathway... but it was a bit of a mistake. Super polished climbing plus stiff grades made us really question how weak we'd really gotten over the past two months of traveling. We ended up doing a few more climbs in the Olimp area which were significantly more fun as they weren't crazy polished and the cracks in the face were super interesting (Zeus 6b was really nice). The only reason this area wasn't polished despite being pretty close to the parking lot, was that it required a decent hike straight up the gully to find it, but it was definitely worth it.

Walking into the park

First climb of the day! Polished fun.
More routes right off the main pathway

Climbing at Olimp

Day 2, we ended up doing up another uphill hike right next to the parking lot to the Tron (south facing) wall of Kukovi ispod Vlake. Unfortunately our friend, Christian, noticed that his climbing shoes were missing... he hadn't noticed until we'd arrived at the crag. He ended up doing a few climbs in his sneakers, and he managed pretty well regardless. Again, the climbs here were much more fun, technical and balancy, and the rock not as sharp as the Olimp area was (our hands were thankful). We decided to cut our day a bit shorter to find Christian's shoes, and luckily enough, recovered them at the front office, where someone had kindly turned them in the night before. We spent the rest of the day to do some reconnaissance on the Anika Kuk area, where we were planning on doing a multipitch the next day (the only guaranteed sunny day in our 5 day stint). As we walked up the park trail, huge signs pointed out the different climbing areas, and we turned to cross the creek where the sign pointed to Anika Kuk. Unfortunately, April also means a lot of water in the creek bed, and the typical crossing point was rather flooded. So we chose to cross a little further up, where a few more rocks made it possible. We found a rough path on the other side and followed it up over large boulders only to come face to face with an entire herd of mountain goats. Seeing as there were more than a few baby goats wandering around with aggressive looking mamas, we decided to attempt going around them. Heading further to the right led us to the actual trail to Anika Kuk, complete with red bullseye markings every few meters. Unfortunately the goats seemed to be heading that direction too, and we decided to head back rather than contend with the local wildlife. Coming down the path, we discovered it started where the normal creek crossing was, and we managed to stone hop around until we got back to our original crossing farther up.

Day 3. We had decided on doing the 350m 10 pitch climb, Mosoraski (5c/6a). Despite warnings of it being polished from high traffic, we decided it would be worth doing, as it was a lower grade and we'd be slower as a group of 3. We also gave ourselves ample time and arrived at the Park entrance around 6am, when we thought the office opened... which it wasn't. But the gate was open, so in we went. Displaying our 5 day passes on the windshield and foregoing the parking pass, we racked up and headed in. Online advice seemed to range from the climb being well equipped requiring only 12 draws, to some suggesting a bringing a few extra pieces for sections of runout. In the end we brought:

- 13 draws
- 3 alpine draws
- 3 cams (0.75, 1, 2)
- 2 sets of anchors
- a few long slings

Prep time!

The hike in took around 35 minutes from car to base. We crossed at the stream and now knew to head right to find the trail. Helpful signs and bullseyes led the way up to Anika Kuk which we then followed along the base towards the start of Mosoraski.

Following the red and white strips or bullseyes to Anika Kuk

Another sign at the base pointed up a chossy scramble to where the base of the climb really was. A huuuuuggeee biner (like really really big), is clipped to the right of the start.


Scrambling up to the base of the climb

Massive biner marking the climb


The first bolt was some 10m up via easy scrambling. After that, we veered to the right (ignored the crack going to the left at an intersection) and followed the spread out bolts until we found the "tree" mentioned online that ended the first pitch (though it was more of a tall stump than an actual full out tree).

Phil happy to be belaying from the top of Pitch 1.. I think

Pitch 2 was a bit of a crack system leading to the left, which ended on a smaller ledge and a giant single metal ring as the anchor. The bolts were pretty spaced again, requiring you to climb a ways before seeing the next one. Good thing it was a 4b pitch. We also avoided going to the right as that would have led us to a 6c+ route. The ledge still fit the 3 of us relatively comfortably. We were also using the very effective method of exchanging and retying in after every pitch so as not to have to deal with flipping over the entire mess of half ropes every time we climbed again.

Climbing up the crack system on Pitch 2

Mediocre ledge at the top of Pitch 2

The third pitch is where the topo and online world had told us to watch out for. Orienteering is required. And unfortunately for us, this is where we ended up going off track. Perhaps it had to do with the (rather poor) topo our guidebook provided, but we were searching for the place where the route would go left, up and then back right, all the while with a rap anchor on your right side.

The section in the red circle was what confused us... looking for this little detour led us to the wrong route...

Christian (who was leading), wasn't sure where to go after reaching a bit of a ledge and cave area, and after much consultation of our vague photo, we suggested he kept going left, where he had seen some bolts in a corner crack. To his right, he had an anchor system in front of the small cave which we took to be the rap station. However, this route ended up requiring crossing a sketchy and chossy traverse with no protection, and then a bit of a climb up the crack until he got to a bolt. Once on it, the corner definitely did not feel like the 4b the guidebook told us it should be (if we were on Mosoraski). But when Christian got past the following wide chimney section and topped out onto the big ledge to the right, he happily found an anchor system. It seemed correct.. after all, he'd gone left, up and now right onto the ledge... so up we went, wondering if we had found the correct route. The topo seemed to suggest the anchor would be almost directly above the rap station, and as this was the case, we were thinking maybe we had found the right route. (Note: if this was high season and we'd had people to follow, this may not have been an issue.. but we did like that a mid-week off season climb meant that we had the route to ourselves). In retrospect, that rap station was probably the anchor station and we should have gone to the bolts heading to the right.

Up the third pitch

The site of confusion... 

The top of this 3rd crossover pitch led us to a big ledge. It had maybe 4 or 5 bolts as well, leading me to think it's possible climbers could sleep here if they wanted.

View looking down from the big ledge at the top of the 3rd pitch

We continued up the bolted line above us for Pitch 4. We had thought it would be a right leaning flake from the Mosoraski topo, and initially, it sortof seemed this was the case as there was a huge ridge that followed to the right in front of us on the ledge. It was a lot more difficult for us as followers to use the same ridge, so we opted for the thin vertical crack to the right of the ledge which turned out to be pretty fun too.

Right leaning flake in front of me

As we got to the top of Pitch 4, we weren't so sure anymore. It seemed a lot more difficult than a 4a rating and it required some interesting hand jamming on a vertical crack which led into a cool little cave that could probably fit a few people comfortably. (We later found out this was a 6a). We were now really unsure which route we were on. But there was only one way to go, so up we went.

Pitch 5 started by coming out of the cave via a chimney, which then led to a vertical layback crack. Again, much harder than the 4b we should have been on by this point. We ended at an anchor which was at a decent sized ledge but required going left after coming out of the crack. By this point, we knew it was definitely the wrong route. The problem now was that we had no idea what we were on, where it was going and what the upcoming grades were. We only knew that there were lots of routes around us with grades probably harder than anything we wanted to deal with 5 pitches in. We were debating about how we could rap down if need be.. or whether to risk continuing into unknown territory.

It was here, that I think we got pretty lucky. A pair of Hungarian climbers had started up around an hour later than us, on a route a bit to the left of Mosoraski. They were fast and confident. By the time we were at Pitch 5, their leader was reaching the cave anchor point we'd just left. So we decided to wait and see if they knew what we were on. They reached us quickly and confirmed that we were definitely not on Mosoraski. They were climbing a route called Nostalgia, which we had inadvertently stumbled onto. Thankfully they had a topo on them. We found out that last pitch we'd just climbed was rated a 5c, and we had 4 more pitches to go without anything higher than a 6b (phew!). Definitely something we could finish then! We let them pass on ahead, and then headed up the first of the 6b's.

The Hungarians topo that saved us

Pitch 6 ended up linking the 6b with the following 6a. We didn't even notice an anchor point in between, so we're not sure if their topo was up to date. The route started to the left of the ledge up a noticeable crack that leaned to the right. After that, we hit a section of slab with a good crack for the hands and poor feet. At this point, it's pretty difficult to see where to go as the next bolts and anchor were invisible until you follow the slab/crack up a ways. Then it's up and over a left sided bulge/layback crack, following the bolts to an anchor further to the right. The belay point was a pretty crappy sloped ledge.

Pitch 7 was probably the crux pitch (6b), with a challenging layback/bulge after another layback crack, but it eased up significantly after that section with a little chute feature that required some fun stemming. It finished with another crack and anchors to the left of the route on a small slabby ledge with some edges to stand on.

Top of Pitch 7

Not the most comfortable of belay ledges....

We were under the impression that we still had 2 more pitches to go, being unaware that Pitch 6 had linked the 6b and 6a in the topo, so Pitch 8 was a happy surprise (5a). We headed left of the anchor and found a nice crack just past the blank slab. Following the right leaning crack up, it widened out and straightened up, and led us all the way up to the top! Be aware that the first bolt from the anchor is a ways up this crack (par for the course with this climb though!). We also encountered at least one perfectly positioned rock (for both hands or feet) in between the crack which was more than a little loose... thankfully the surrounding holds made it easy enough to avoid using.

Topped out safely! We made it!

Packing everything up, we hiked another 15 minutes up following red painted dots to get to the actual summit of Anika Kuk. By this point it was around 3pm.

Summiting with a fantastic view behind  us

At the summit :)

After 45 minutes at the top and a late late lunch, we headed down, following the bullseyes over sharp rocky fins all the way down to the backside of Anika Kuk. We passed the summit box just a bit along the trail down, where there's also a stamp set into the rock. Would have been nice if I'd only had an inkpad and notebook haha. 

The summit log box

The trail then led us back around to the front and then connected back to the approach trail that followed the base of Anika Kuk where we'd come from that morning. 

Revisiting this photo, we could see the first 5 pitches or so that we took versus the direction we should have been going (pink arrow)

Overall, the entire endeavor took us around 10.5 hours, including an hour to allow the Hungarians to pass, an hour at the top, and the approach and descent. It was still a fantastic climb, despite our getting lost, and we appreciated the non-polishedness of it and the challenge of some really fun varied climbing, with slabs, cracks and chimneys all the way up. In the end, we never ended up using more than 12 draws (though in some places it's because the bolts were quite spread out), and never used the cams we brought. Having a few alpine draws helped reduce the drag in some places which was pretty helpful. We also used slings once or twice around a few trees along the way. It was probably a good idea to have a few pieces anyway, seeing as getting lost on the route isn't so unlikely. The most challenging aspect of the climb was really just finding our way, so hopefully our misadventure can help others go the right way about it!

Time:

Parking lot to base of climb: 36 min
Overall climbing time: 7hr 10 min
Descent time: 1hr 20 min
Overall door to door: 10hr 20 min

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