Amazing successful free climbing ascents by two Slovene climbers in the year of 2003 and 2004
It was luck that Marko Lukić and Andrej Grmovšek start climbing together three years ago. It was luck for them and luck for our Slovenian climbing community, to move on the higher level also in the sphere of free climbing longer routes. They are both an amazing on sight climbers that like to do long and free ascents of the hardest routes. They are challenged to climb as light as possible and as fast as possible, and free of course.
Their list of hard climbing achievements is long and very diverse. Marko stopped climbing after his successful ascent of Just do it (8c+) in 1997. The reason was motivation, new job and family life. His climbing career till then was very long, successful and diverse (first ascents in Patagonia and around, free climbing competitions and free ascents of the hardest routes all over). He came back after a few years of mad racing with cars and motorbikes. And he moved especially to long free climbs where he found Andrej as his partner. Andrej also climbed all over the world (first free ascents in Madagaskar, China and Peru, free ascents in Mexico, Norway, USA). His passion are long free routes. The challenge and nature of both climbers is how to be faster, better, lighter and how to improve the style of climbing by the simple things. Here are listed just some of their best climbing achievements in the last two summers.
Slovenian climbing party Marko Lukić and Andrej Grmovšek had a very successful alpine summer already in the year of 2003. All over the Alps they free climbed many hard routes including Akut (8a,450 m) in Cima Oveste, Phantom der Zinne (7c+,500 m) in Cima Grande. Both routes were first free climbing ascents in a day! They on sighted Divine Providence (7c, 900 m) in GPA - Mont Blanc Massif and Specchio di Sarah (7c, 450 m) in Marmolada. Marko also red pointed his hardest route of that season Camilloto Pelisier (8b, 350 m) in Cima Grande. They put up a new route in Slovenia Alps and Marko red pointed it. The name of their new route in wall Vezica is Last minute (8a+, 270 m). Marko also did first free ascent of trad route Smer norcev (8a, 350 m) in Šite, Julian Alps and made first free ascent of his two year project Spider (8a, 350 m) in Anica kuk, Croatia and on sighted clasics Les Intachibles (7c+, 200 m), and Batman (7b+, 250m), Wenden. Climbing season that was hard to repeat, but their next summer was unbelievable again.
This year, 2004 the party went on and they did one step more. The highlight of Marko’s and Andrej’s this summer alpine climbing was their free ascent of Couzy route in Cima Oveste (8b, 500m). This route was first climbed in 1959 by Desmaison and Mazeaud and freed after a few years of hard work by Mauro Bole – Bubo in 1999. Bubo left all the old protection in place and just added new bolts on the stances. Now this is probably the hardest free climbed »historical« line in Alps.
Two times the pair checked the lower part of the route together. After that they split and climbed the route with their wives, by leading all the pitches. Marko needed two and Andrej three more visits to red point all the pitches in a long day. Both were leading all pitches which Bubo graded 6b+, 8a, 7c, 7c+, 8a+, 7a, 6c+, 5+, 8a, 7c, 7b+, 8b, 5 pitches 4/5 to the top. They think that Bubo’s suggested grading is too »soft« and most of the grades are one to two grades too high. Anyway the route is very complex, with a lot of loose rock and mostly questionable historical piton protection. An amazing route with a lot of air and very sustained climbing.
But they didn’t climb only in Tree Cime. In the end of July they caught a very nice day in Chamonix’s Aiguille du Fou. They came up with crazy idea, to free climb two routes in a single day. In a one day sprinting marathon they free climbed both classic routes in this wall, First they had to climb 300m of the coluar to get under their main goal. Les ailes du desir (7c, 300 m) in 4,5 hours and American route (7c, 300m) in 6 hours. It was said by the locals that this was first free ascent of two routes in a day in Aiguille du Fou.
During the summer Marko also free climbed modern classic route Tempi modernissimi (7c+, 300m) in Sasso undici, Marmolada. And Andrej did second free ascent of hardest Slovenian trad route Smer norcev (8a, 350m) in Šite, Julian Alps.
For the end of the season Marko joined Martina Čufar, best Slovenian female sport climber, on trip to Sardinia. Both managed to free climb famous Hotel Supramonte (8b, 7c obl., 400m) in Gola di Gorropu, in their third day. This route in wild Mediterranean ambient has solid rock and is really amazing. Marko thinks that grades of pitches (7b+, 7c+, 8b, 8a+, 8b, 7c, 7a+, 7b+, 7b, 7b) are more correct than in Couzy, but difficulties are shorter.
Written by: Tanja Grmovšek, September 2004
Andrej on trad route Smer Norcev (8a, 350m) in Slovenain Julian Alps. Picture by Boris Strmsek.