The history of climbing in Paklenica dates back to the late 1930s.In 1938.,Dragutin Brahm died attempting to climb the NW face of Anica kuk alone. Two years later, the Croatians S.Brezovacki and M.Dragman completed the route attempted by Brahm and dedicated it to him.During the period that followed, Croatian climbers opened some very beautiful routes, nowadays know as big classics:Mosoraski (1957.-B.Kambic,B.Kulic) Velebitaski (1961. - D.Ribanovic,N.Jakic,M.Mlinac), Klin (1966.- M.Plesko,S.Gilic,N.Jakic) and Funkcija (1969. - N.Culic, I.Kaliterna).During this period Slovenian climbers first visited Paklenica, and soon took the lead in developing area. Especially active were the climbers from Ljubljana who added such beautiful and hard lines as Vrazji, Diagonalka and Forma via. Some of these routes were so hard that they did not receive their second ascent for many years.

The routes Jenjavi(1971.)and the eight day climb of Brid klina (1973. -B.Aleraj,M.Cepelak) were major contributions made by Croatian climbers to the development of the area.

The seventies represented a major step forward in the development of climbing in the gorge.In 1976.F.Knez,the best climber of the period, started to visit Paklenica,changing completely the concept of climbing and refusing to accept the meaning of the word "impossible".Many of his routes in the gorge, and there are about 40, still count among the hardest. His style of climbing new routes, quick with little gear, was and still very modern.However, it is important to note that all of his routes that have not had a 2 nd ascent may be undergraded.The actual grade may be at least one grade higher that the UIAA grade given!!! In late seventies, having spent some months in the USA, I.Tomazin brought the "spirit"of free climbing to the gorge.The first of his important free ascents was Brid za mali cekic in 1978(8-),followed by Velebitaski (7-) in 1979. With his main  climbing partner M.Ivnik, Tomazin climbed two difficult, but very beautiful lines, Albatros and El condor pasa.

Some difficult new routes were put up during the early eighties and some of the other faces in the gorge were explored.One of the most notable climbers of his period was J.Sabolek-Sabla, know as"l'enfante terrible" of  the Slovenian climbing scene! He put up some hard aid routes notably,Carovnica with F.Knez in 1980. and Crni gavran with L.Painkiher in 1981.It was during this period that very quick ascents became real races e.g.Klin in 1,30h.But the real achievement was performed by Sabla and J.Skok who together climbed 6 routes on Anica kuk in one day, or 1600 m in 9,30h, starting with Funkcija (1,30h) , then Bukovi (2h) , Ljubljanski (55 min) , Velebitaski (1,10h), Fanikin (2h) and finally Mosoraski(2h). This was the era of many debates between those who favoured the ethics of modern free climbing and those who supported the traditionalists.despite the outcome of these debates, free climbing continued to develop alongside the introduction of new aid climbing techniques based on those used in Yosemite valley.

Many foreign climbers made notable contributions to the development of climbing in Paklenica. Pit Schubert equipped the belays of the classical routes with cemented rings.In 1981.,Austrian climbers ascended free a new route Utopija(7-), using only nuts for protection.

The year 1982. was an important milestone in the history of climbing in Paklenica.F.Knez and I.Tomazin freed Klin, avoiding the crux, but this flaw was corrected a year later by I.Skamperle and L.Painkiher who climbed the original traverse(8-). During this time new modern routes were climbed(Domzalski, Svicarski). The greatest "challenges to free climbing"were gradually overcome as the old aid routes were freed - P.Kozjek and J.Skok freed Vrazji and I.Tomazin freed Funkcija in 1983., T.Slabe freed Subara and Jenjavi in 1984. and S.Rehberger freed El condor pasa in 1984.

In 1985., new routes were climbed across the slabs of Stup: Utopija '85., Ona voli rock and Modri casino and few new routes were put up in the gorge Klanci.The Italian M.Corona equipped the first sports climbing route,giving it the somewhat symbolic name "Stimula".His climbing partner Manolo succeeded on Maratoneta (10+) which is still unrepeated and is the hardest sports climb in the gorge.Not to be out done, Hörhager climbed Moskito (10).In 1986., one of the most active climbers S.Rehberger freed Rio (8+) and Cvrcev Steber (8-), and together with T.Slabe finally solved what was considered to be the biggest challenge to free climbing in Paklenica, the famous Brid klina (9-), which was repeated in the same style a year later by Czech climbers P.Cermak and Z.Konecny.

It was during this period that some of the hardest aid routes were climbed: Spomin (1985. by S.Karo,J.Jeglic and F.Knez), Rumeni strah (1986.by S.Karo,P.Kozjek) and Tango vertikal (1986.by s.Karo and S.Skarja).

In 1990., the Swiss brothers Claude and Yves Remy, visited Paklenica.With the aid of a bolt gun, they climbed (bottom to top no pre placed gear) two beautiful lines on Anica kuk, Rajna and Welcome. In a similar style three German climbers, F.Köfferlein, J.Münster and P.Stadler completed the routes Wein, Weib und Stein on the same face. During this period the hardest aid routes in Paklenica were climbed  - in 1989. Joganda (A4) was climbed by M.Praprotnik and M.Ravhekar, followed by Sreca in 1991., climbed by M.Kolsek and M.Grah. During the following four years Paklenica was inaccessible and only reopened at the end of 1995., indicating that the war was over and signifying the start of better times. The climbers were back.The return was marked by the new route Waterworld and the re-equipping of the shorter routes in Klanci and on Anica kuk.

What does the future hold for climbing in Paklenica?There are many possibilities, the re-equipping of old routes and the climbing of new routes, especially on the faces around Anica kuk (Kuk od Zagora, Maniti kuk).There is still scope for new routes, multi - pitch, shorter routes and new aid climbs as well as the challenge of   freeing the remaining hard aid routes.


It is recommended that you buy climbing guide "Paklenica".

By Dubravko Vukmirovic
Scanned by Tamara Dumic.
Special thanks to Boris Cujic.

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