Especially Marko Lukić had an amazing season. As the team (M.Lukić, A.Grmovšek) they did fast free repeats of many testpieces in Dolomites and Slovenian Alps.
"Marko started his big season in the end of April with first free ascent of his project in wall of Anica Kuk, Croatia. He bolted 350 m high route in last two years and study it this spring. He named his work Spider, and graded pitches 6c, 6c, 7a+, 7c+, 7c+/8a, 8a, 7a, 7b, 7b, 7b. This is now the hardest route in this Mediterranean wall.
In June we joined together in an old alpine route in Julian Alps, Slovenia. “The Route of fools”, in Slovene Smer norcev, in wall Site was climbed by legendary Karo and Jeglič, 20 years ago and is about 350m high. They climbed almost everything except the hardest pitch free at hard VI+. The 20m long roof was aided at A2-A3. The pitch and belays are protected only by old pitons. Route was attempted free in last years, but Marko was the first to red point it in our second day of work in it. The rock in this pitch is quite loose and we had to clean it, but anyway in almost every try we broke some holds. That happened also to me in my best try and I couldn’t climb it. Marko graded the hardest pitch 8a. This is now the hardest free climbed trade route in Slovenian Alps.
After that we moved to another new project. In four separated days in June and August we bolted (ground up of course) new 270m long route in wall of Vezica, Kamnik Alps, Slovenia. This is the nicest route we opened, with very hard runouty overhanging climbing on good pockets, but also some technical slab and corner climbing. Marko started his work on free ascent in September and managed to free climb the route in his fourth day of work, on the very last day before snow and bad weather ended this year’s alpine free climbing season. Because of that he named route Last minute and graded pitches 8a+, 5c, 7a+, 7c+, 7b+, 8a, 6a. Now this is the hardest long free route in Slovenia.
In the begining of July we started our Dolomite’s season. We were surprised by good weather and climbed on 6 of July route Specchio di Sarah in Marmolada, 7c, 450m. Marko climbed all on sight, and I followed the hardest pitch on flash and climbed the whole route free. The route is very nice and serious, like hard Marmolada’s climbing is. Five days later we were back in Dolomites, this time in Tre Cime di Lavaredo. On 11th we climbed Kurt Astner’s route Akut in Cima Ovest, 8a, 550m. We both climbed it free in 11 hours and made third ascent of route and first free ascent (Kurt climbed it free in two separated days). Two days later we climbed Hainz-Astner’s route Das Phantom der Zinne in Cima Grande, 7c+, 550m. This route was more serious than Akut, protected really runouty with pitons and some bolts. It has many hard pitches (3x7c, 1x7c+). We both climbed it free in 12 hours and made third ascent of route and first free ascent (Hainz climbed it free in more separated days).
In second part of July we spent a week with our wives in Mont Blanc massif. We climbed some easier routes for preparation, Marko climbed with his wife Alenka also Les Intachibles, 7c+, on sight. We stopped also at Wenden where Marko and Andrej climbed classic route Batman, 7b+, Marko on sight.
We returned back to Mont Blanc massif in August and climbed on 1.st and 2.nd Divine Providence in Grand Piller d’ Angle, Mont Blanc, 7c, 900m + 600m. The hardest pitch of the route (7c) was quite wet but we climbed the whole route on sight anyway. On icy ridge to the summit of Mont Blanc we were very slow because we broke one of our total two ice tools on the approach to the route. Looking from free climbers eyes, only GPA headwall’s 300m of this long alpine route are hard and nice climbing.
Only week after that Marko returned to Tree Cime. He tried the Camillotto - Pellesier route in Cima Ovest, which was first free climbed only few weeks before by Mauro Bole. He managed to free climb whole route on his second day. He felt the hardest pitch graded 8b by Bole is easier, maybe 8a+, but the route is anyway hard with pitches 7a+, 7c, 8b, 8a, 6c, 6c+, 8a+, 7a, 6a, 5c, 4a and 400m long.
At the end of this really successful alpine free climbing season we both feel that most of long alpine free climbs we climbed are quite overgraded. We think that pitches of Akut, Phantom, Divine or Camillotto would not be graded so hard in sport climbing areas. We also think that grading can’t be different in alpine walls and also bad protection, cold, bad rock and altitude can’t be included in grading. We hope grades of our first ascents in Slovenia and Croatia are more correct. "
Written by Andrej Grmovsek, December 2003
You can watch short films about climbing Last minute on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTWR8Gb741g and Smer norcev on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPyLOn7Cfs4