Andrej wrote down: "Yes, after some mild winters the last one was the real one again. And we did a bunch of winter climbing in the last few months. With my friend and climbing partner Marko Lukić we started the winter in the beginning of December in Slovenian Alps. The walls were already full of snow, the weather was very bad and the conditions “not for climbing”.
There was a lot of winter climbing activity in Slovenian Alps, also in rock walls, few decades ago, but nowadays the rock walls are empty in winter. In the past alpinists climbed winter rock mostly with hands, with poor equipment, clothes and that wasn’t really fun. All this reasons probably turned back many young alpinists. In the last decade drytooling technique made huge progress, but this improvement was very rare to Slovenian winter rock climbs. Poor protection and untoolable rock were only few excuses.
So we decided to test our drytooling skills in north face of Raduha, only 200m high wall, but in “full conditions”. The climb in Zagorčeva route (V+, 140m, summer grade) wasn’t especially hard, neither long, but it was cool adventure. We climbed it with drytooling (around M6) and hoped to start a path of harder, longer and more frequent new era winter rock climbs in our Slovenian Alps. See some photos on: http://grmoclimb.net/?str=502&aid=28 .
In the end of December nice weather and Christmas - New Year holidays brought us to Chamonix. We spent perfect two weeks of skiing, climbing and just having fun. Tanja, Marko and I also climbed a few routes up in the mountains, among them the legendary route Vol de Nuit (M8-, 450m) on Mont Blanc du Tacul in quite good conditions. See some photos on: http://grmoclimb.net/?str=7&aid=42
The weather in the next months was unstable, but surprisingly cold, perfect for ice and mix climbing in lower altitudes. We visited Tyrolean sport mix climbing place Drylands a few times where Marko did also Game over M13- and Tension M12+. Tanja decided to join the ice climbing world cup (IWC 2009) circus once again. And she did well with 10th place in Val Daone and 14th place in Saas Fee. See some photos on: http://grmoclimb.net/?str=7&aid=43
For Marko and me the highlight of sport mix climbing was for sure Illuminati, M11, WI6+, 160m, in Val Lungo, Dolomites. This is the most impressive mix climb I ever saw, with huge overhangs for the beginning and scary ice column for finish. We tried it in the beginning of January 2009, and climbed free both hard pitches (M11, M11-) on our second day. But at that day we didn’t continue to exposed and friable ice lengths. The temperatures in this south facing walls were much too high and we were witnesses of many ice avalanches and also collapse of huge 15 meters tall ice column, the key ice length of the route. We returned back more than a month later (14.2.2009) in temperatures well below zero and climbed the whole route free, including a scary reformed upper ice part.
For the end of this amazing winter Marko and I crowned this "no rest season" with another mega climb – No Siesta (VI M8, 1100m) on Grandes Jorasses. This legendary line was, as we know, climbed free, in winter only once, by Robert Jasper and Markus Stoffer. It was in our minds in the last few winters already, but locals always claimed it was “not in conditions”. Finally we decided to check it out on our own and we climbed it free in three days (17. - 19.3.2009). The conditions were not perfect, but the route was of course climbable! We hoped to climb it faster, but it’s really long and we were especially surprised by the difficulties and time consuming on the easier pitches (M5, M6, 70o). But some harder pitches were more technical than physical. In all, it's a really long and hard climb, probably the hardest long alpine mix free route in the Alps!"
You can see some photos from No Siesta on: http://grmoclimb.net/?str=502&aid=29 .
This great picture was taken on top of the route No Siesta, on Grandes Jorasses. Marko took this shot in really COLD conditions with freezing wind all around. GREAT!