Monday 2011/05/02

I could give a thousand reasons why it is always wonderful to come to Paklenica. But at the beginning of May, and during time around May Day holiday you just have to go because of the Big Wall Speed Climbing.


For the past ten years this unique competition has become the cult center for all who enjoy climbing in open air. Velika Paklenica canyon is the most famous and best place to go rock climbing in Croatia, but in Europe as well. From early spring to late autumn, rock climbers can do everything from single pitch bolted sports routes, to multi-pitch sports and traditional routes. Even though Paklenica's trademark is the three hundred high rock Anica kuk, with over 150 long climbing directions for free and technical climbing, since the team at Nacionalni park has been organizing BWSC as an international gathering for climbers and a competition in speed climbing, all the attention is drawn to the rock of Debeli kuk and Cuka.

For eleven years now, these two cliffs have seen male and female teams climb at incredible speed in a vertical sprint. What usually takes about two hours, they have managed to finish in recording 21 minutes. In its 11 years, BWSC has had its ups and downs, sometimes more, at times less signed up teams, good and bad weather, but some things never change: Suncica Hrascanec is always the winner of the women’s team, there’s always a great atmosphere as well as fantastic company.

BWSC in Paklenica is too important for our Welcome team to miss it. Each one of us managed to get in on some function, so we have ourselves managed to become part of team: Marko and Luka, our official cameraman and photographer, Cedo offered to help out with all the visitors who wanted to try themselves out in climbing, and I became the official moderator.

This year, BWSC started off with a very interesting lecture given by Vladimir Mesaric, Hrvoje Lukatela and Branko Separovic about the first ever Croatian alpine expedition, Greenland 1971, and ended up with a new speed record made by Suncica Hrascanec and her partner Inga Patarcic on women's team and Emil Mucko and Marko Marasovic winning in their men's competition. There was also a small rock climbing film festival, an adorable competition for very young climbers, Kid Speed, and on the whole a gorgeous day with fantastic people in the most amazing setting.

All the focused and dedicated work of people at the National park Paklenica, as well as all the cooperation and support from Starigrad tourist board and all the local institutions, is a fantastic example how an adventure can indeed prove to be a great product for tourism. This is also how a big difference in guests and visitors can be noticed, going back 15 years, since they've been working on arranging all the climbing routes. Today, more than 30% visitors of the park are in fact climbers, dedicated, permanent public who stay on for days. Most of local camp owners and apartment owners are turning to climbers as target audience to rent out to.

I hope that this potential of adventure Croatia will get recognized all over the country and made more available for mountain cyclists, hikers, climbers, paragliders... After all, for all of them, Croatia will soon be the country with the biggest welcome in the world.