6 October 2015

Crimp the mint dish - Petrohrad Czech Republic

Heading out west from Prague, the waning sun is turning ultra orange and the sky fades to a deep black. This gently rolling landscape could be Australia or an American desert canyon land, yet it is only two hours from Leeds even if it's a millennia from modernity.

Pete and Kirsty have made the massive, improbable 1000 mile overland trip in a oner, but it took them rather longer than we four flyins. As we pitchup at Jesenice they are there pitching up. It will be cold tonight on our all but deserted, newly polished, post communist campsite. It's rusty chain link boundary fence keeping the forest at bay. The gin clear sky is leaking heat to the stars. It drops to near freezing overnight. By dawn it has been a long night, but it is crisp and clear, we head into the forest near Brana where there be dragons.

We eventually find their eggs in the medieval oak forest, round monoliths that look like stone boulders, a little like the sharpest greyest granite with huge quartzite crystals and rare fingertip shredding edges you can almost crimp.  We know better, we proceed with caution dragons sleep lightly. You may climb a dragon's egg if you have steel fingers, rhino hide for finger skin and can squirm and thrutch over their rounded apex using nothing save belief.

We do well on the our first morning full of enthusiam and dark rye bread. After a grading misunderstanding all our imagined 7B waddage become 5 or 6, but still they are good problems, a few are great. Our mood is light, we grin and relax, it has been worth the trip.

Soon though skin thins alarmingly, fingertips glisten and lunch is declared as the sun warms us enough to dispense with our downcoats. By after noon we are throwing for what Pete claims is The Mint Dish from a gynaecological slot. But you must crimp the dish hard if you want to hang the mega rail beyond, legendary stuff. Stu trys harder than all of us and gets the least reward, their is no justice in this ancient feudal wood.

Back in town for beer and dinner at prices that are too good to be true, perhaps I made it up. We manage to end up in a dingy bar where fat locals ring their glasses in a haze of fag smoke to persuade the barman to refill them, too lazy to get up to the bar. Dinner is memorable for the house speciality of boiled white sausage stuffed with pickled peppers that cannot be eaten with chips we are told. All this in a language we do not speak, translated by an app that provides yet more confusion.

Next dawn and we are in the forest searching for more small stones. Up a hill to a deserted chapel and a hidden staircase of a ruin that has sunlit views over endless trees on forever.

We drop down into the shade trees and a 3D jigsaw of problems. An arĂȘte stops me as I try the wrong sequence again and again defining stupidity. Pete shows the way with a bit of thought and a drive to climb it all that still will not fade. We fill our souls with aretes, rounded easy climbers, sharp and steep ones, overhanging prows with big holds, rounded slabby noses, all are good. Kirsty spending all day it seems overhead snapping away. By four we are spent but we have climbed like loons as we drop down to our final area. More sharp aretes that give in if you pull hard enough. I am spent, everyone else wears the look of the newly shattered battler. Pete throws in a few more and one big fridge hugger, we wander away tired, heads full of movement.

The evening ends early after pool in a bar which is a tin shed with a back wall made of beer kegs slightly menacing but we are tolerated, maybe welcome who can say. Perhaps we provided amusement?

Third dawn, I am deep in my bones tired, we make the forest again and find some more quality. The highlight the last problem a barrel rock over with only four holds. The perfect problem a haiku of a thing, everyone climbs it the same whatever their height or shape. Helen in her trainers. Pete finally declares himself broken and joins the rest of us. Now we head our separate ways. The plane team try tourism in Prague but we are beyond mere fun and culture, we fought the granite dragon in the forest and won. We were there.

That was the thing it was a trip about the we, the country, the uncompromising granite and the wonderful Czech countryside and people. It had a whiff of smoke and magic about it, It won't get much better than that.

I will be bouldering a little less now I think, but I will no more stop climbing or being in the mountains than I hope breathing. As to blogging about my escapades on here, no more I have no words, quit while you are ahead.
Crimping the Mint Dish

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