Wow – once the Epic ball gets rolling it really picks up speed. It feels like our second episode of Europe’s Best Crags just came out, (give it a watch below) and before we know it episode three, Petrohrad Rocks, is close on it’s heels.
Once the rain in Ticino got to be too much, we headed to the Czech Republic, which definitely took us out of our comfort zones. We’re used to travelling to climbing areas that are well-known, well travelled, and well accustomed to tourists, but Petrohrad in early November didn’t seem to be any of these things. Local climbing shops don’t sell the guidebook and local climbers apparently only climb there in the spring, when the boulders are scrubbed up ready for the annual climbing festival. And on top of these things, the locals certainly didn’t seem used to a campervan rolling through their town – we were followed by steely-eyed stares wherever we went.
This isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy our time there. After our first day in one of the main climbing areas, which to be honest was really only packing lowballs – albeit lots of them – yes we wanted to ditch it and move on. We weren’t sure how welcome we were and the climbing appeared to be rubbish. But we stuck with it, largely due to the awesome campsite we stayed at – ATC Jesenice – which for less than £7 a night offered electric hook-up, internet and hot showers. It was just a bit creepy because for most of the time we were the only ones staying there, surrounded by dark, empty cabins (plus a homeless guy living in one of them as we soon leanred). But having somewhere convenient and comfortable to stay meant we had the will power to continue our exploration. And we met Ian, a Swiss traveller who loves the place – that helped too.
After ten days or so what we discovered about Petrohrad was this – to climb there you need to be good at climbing egg-shaped boulders. You need to have thick skin, literally, or let go of the idea of loads of climbing in a day and do a little less so you can climb more days in a row (there isn’t much to do on rest days so…) Put less importance on the aesthetic of a line, some of the ugly ducklings might surprise you. And be aware that, in the winter, the campsite may close at any time, without warning.
So after the first real cold spell of our trip and a different kind of climbing experience, we headed to Prague, lived it up in a hotel and took in the sights with Al’s folks. Perfect. And now, time to move on!