Kraków Climbing Chronicles #2
| Into Nora - The Cave-iest of Caves |
Resident crafter Stan ran away from West Yorkshire to Krakow at the start of September. Relatively unknown outside of Poland, the climbing scene is strong with nearby limestone of the Polish Jura as well as dotted about crags of sandstone and relatively close granite.
Most my plans from my last blog didn't last long. All but my sloper problem of my korona 'projects' went down in a few goes and I've since set a couple more and climbed them quicker than expected. I think when setting anti-style hard boulders, I find it harder to judge the difficulty in relation to my level, than a style I'm more proficient in, thus my sloper project remains unclimbed but I'm very close - the ideal level I was after.
I was back in zimny dol a few days later but rain that weekend meant my intended project 'Deadman' (8A) was sopping wet. Instead one of the few dry blocs was home to 'Wiesz co to jest 5' (7C+/8A). I'd seen beta videos when researching the crag and initially started trying the seemingly most common heal-over-head-straight-away beta. This really didn't work for me and instead I found beta keeping feet low through the first moves before throwing a heel to the one good sloper and a long reach over move. I left that session feeling good on the moves to this heel throw and reach but not very close to these, unsure where I was with it. I've been back for one more session plus another quick 15min play after climbing the excellent 'Ślązacy' (7B+) but still not stuck it. I've definitely got closer, on my last quick play I was much more consistent on the heel throw and managing to feel static (the only way I've seen this move done) to around 15cm away from it but feeling like I had to lurch that last bit, my heel instantly popping off.
This got me thinking about the depth of defining our style - how previous comments I may have made about being good at heelhooks were now too broad to be accurate - something I want to write a longer piece about.
My best go on the crux move of Wiesz - the hold you're going to is a split 'spock' pocket so requires perfect precision
With the temps dropping it went from Zimny to Nora season. Jaskinia Twardowskiego (Nora) sits on the less visited side of Zakrzowek, a large park just south of the river and pretty centrally in Krakow, away from the large lake with swimming pools and the mirror polished crags of Freney and the 60+m 'Sadists Traverse'. When I think limestone cave bouldering the first place that springs to mind is Parisella's, probably the same for most Brits - contrasting Parisella's open front, Nora is unique in it's truly cavey nature. A small opening, the perfect size to duck through with a pad, leads to a cavernous space with multiple limestone bulges.
This geology makes it a winter venue as warmer temperatures leads to condensation and everything sopping wet. Instead in winter you can find the only slightly damp conditions. Lamps and headtorches are also necessary even in the day due to the small entrance. Just a headtorch or two and the light disappears into the large space, leaving a distinctly creepy feeling; a few friends with lamps and the light starts to bounce around the space along with the good, try-hard vibes.
My first visit I had a couple headtorches but lacked the final piece of Nora equipment - a blowtorch. Before I go on - DO NOT US A BLOWTORCH ON ROCK. But in here we do, the limestone is generally more solid than you find in many other places without the little flaky crimps that are susceptible to snapping off. Also, if the exact same rock type wasn't in this hole in the ground - then I certainly wouldn't think it would be reasonable and I don't think it would be common practise either.
My first visit to Nora I initially joined Dawid on 'Fuckin' Others', a classic 7A of the crag, and he gave me the full spray down for a good flash go. A bit too physical for my warm up and I punted the flash but after figuring out the last move I got it quickly done, a really cool boulder.
Wanting to try something harder but not a link up I decided to try 'Pnij i Gnij' (7C+). It was damper than the other areas so I got to work drying it off, while Mikołaj and Dawid were on their respective projects. I was feeling quite close to the crux move (a slap to a sloper from a right hand crimp and left slopey sidepull pinch) relatively quickly and pieced together the hand moves either side - but maintaining tension and the foot walks to link the thing seemed tough.
Given the conditions, after each go I had to redry the holds and that session my best links were falling off the crux slap (but feeling close) from the start, and pulling on from after the crux and going to the top. Sounds great but it missed out the cruxy foot match and that I was now finding harder than the slap move - which I had pretty dialled in isolation. I used a sideways facing foot that allowed me to drop my left knee when doing the slap, but when I squared up to do the foot match, this foot would pick - sometimes I could hold it but it wasn't consistent and felt like it would be pretty limit from the start.
A few days later we were back but without Dawid - our Nora guide - this time. I got another full spray down for another classic at 7A, Jeden, and managed to flash it.
On Pnij i Gnij, I warmed up doing the moves either side of the crux then quickly did the crux slap. Feeling good on everything else but struggling with the foot match I started trying the crux slap off alternative left foot holds. I tried this last time but couldn't make any of them work, this time I quickly found a new foot that made the match much easier and then did the crux to the top link.
I had a little rest while Mikołaj tried another boulder next door then pulled on for my first redpoint go off the day. I knew it was possible but was hoping I could execute in few enough goes that I didn't get too tired on the right hand crimp. In the end, one go was all that was needed and it felt pretty flowy, steady through the crux and super focused to keep tension through the feet and find the heel. Drop into the undercut and eye up the final bump, it's easier but definitely fluffable. Into a thread jug and it's just a couple of moves between jugs to finish. To complete a great session, Mikołaj then managed to finish 'Funckin' Others' for all round sendage.