Row…row…faster…faster – 3, 2, 1…Bombaa!!!!

The water violently smacked into the boat, lifting it, cradling the raft for a few seconds in the crisp mountain air.

Then Boom!

Back into the ferocious rushing water, the rubber raft pirouetting and bouncing between two menacing boulders.

Every roller coaster plunge created an explosive spray of water—and my breathing sigh of relief. I was  alive, braving the capricious Cetina River rapids in southern Croatia, and still feverishly rowing, hoping to avoid colliding with those massive rocks.

“3, 2, 1…Row, keep rowing…Bombaa,” yelled the raft’s skipper Josip Matijevic, the experienced, seemingly unflappable white water guide.

His forceful commands emphasized one ominous, but still exhilarating fact—me and my rafting partners in this small boat were facing lightning fast waters along with merciless, submerged rocks, and every move with our oars  had to be remarkably precise.   Or else!

So I banished those thoughts from my mind, focusing on the challenges that lie ahead, forgetting the fears I had obsessed about the night before this adventure.

“Row…row…faster…faster, get to the left, the left…3, 2, 1..Bombaa,” the tanned, very confident-sounding Matijević demanded each time we approached a dip in the rapids. Then there would be a predictable “Boom” once we descended a wall of waves and foam, and each time my heart sped up. But always calm, Mateijevic never flinched.

I always did.

My life seemingly resting in his hands and keen “river sense,” I tried to completely  forget my nervousness, about this adventure. To trust his instructions. That was difficult.         While he had diligently prepared us for the demanding 10 kilometer river passages—one of the most challenging in Croatia—I was still intimidated by the Cetina’s roar. I had heard it numerous times walking alongside it, but actually “riding” these waves, feeling its’ force, the churning power that generated loud “Craaaacks” was a whole different, exacting experience.

And also a supremely exciting one.

As Matijević barked, “Go left…go right…watch out, here comes another falls,” invariably another avalanche of chilling spray crashed over me. Always passing only a few feet from giant rocks, I sensed how fickle the Cetina was—calm one moment, a time to appreciate all the natural beauty, then moments later recognizing there was imminent peril. That if we merely brushed into a boulder it would mean tumbling over and over into the water.

I still managed to calm my fears, to enjoy the unique thrill of confronting the rolling waves. It gave me a sense of power, a feeling of being very alive. I was no longer stressed by the everyday world. I was free.

Interrupting my brief moment of thinking about myself, and how I was meeting the Cetina’s constant challenges, Matijevic yelled, “We are going to the cave,  there is very freshwater, only 7 degrees, don’t go there if your body is not ready for temperature shock.”

Successes, not insecurities, now further emboldening me, I jumped into the water, allowing the icy whirlpools to excite every pore of my body. Hardly feeling the cold, the sensation of being totally chilled, I spun around and around, playing like a child. It was total bliss!

We finally had to leave this grotto, and while feeling energized, my “survival” was still in doubt. Could I summon enough nerve to climb to the top of a 10 m high cliff, and then jump into the water? After taking so many lashes from the waves, and quelling all my previous worries, did I have enough adrenaline—and self-confidence—to take one last plunge?

One of my rafting companions hurried up the cliff, and without a moment’s hesitation, she jumped. So I quickly followed. Once airborne, time stood still for a few glorious seconds, and when I surfaced, I thankfully realized my body was still intact.

Content, I frolicked in the water, and heard the woman pleading, “Can we please do this again, please, just one more jump before we finish? Just one more  jump.”

I could only smile. I knew she had overcome her own self-doubts, and was now feeling jubilant exactly like me. That we had both turned our initial anxieties into a sort of  freedom-loving awakening. We mastered the Cetina, and were more than ready to return here. We were now looking forward to taking other risks—life’s “leaps of faith.

 

Ferrata Omiš Dinara Mountain

If you want to fly learn how to climb!

My heart was violently beating. I was so afraid of flying.

Every time I walked in the mountains I jealously looked at the birds soaring above me, and wanted to be just like them, free to spread my wings, to reach the sky.

These birds just didn’t stay in one place. They could wander, be playful and independent, free to see the world, and to enjoy Nature’s wonders.

Here was my opportunity to be like a bird, to reach new heights, and to touch the clouds—if I could overcome my fears and do Ferrata.

But as I looked at the cliffs, the difficult to pass boulders, the many cables, and the other hurdles attached to doing Ferrata, my becoming a true “bird” seemed impossible. I was that scared.

I also knew that a young, inexperienced bird had to be courageous, so I tried to banish all the bad thoughts in my head—the horror movie which had me coming to a very untimely END.

Omiš Dinara Mountain
Ferrata
Omiš Dinara Mountain

But could I really fly? Could I roam over the sea, be a part of Nature, and feel her power?

I didn’t usually have so much self-doubt. I certainly didn’t admit defeat  too often. I liked taking chances—and because the views atop these cliffs overlooking the magical Adriatic Sea were so exhilarating, it was impossible to turn away from the mountain, to refuse this chance to take flight.

So there was no more thinking, no more doubts.

Click!

I would be a bird. Brave and determined.

I hooked up the carbines with steel sites, gazed up at the menacing-looking boulders—and said a quick prayer to God. “Please protect this small bird. Help me fly for the first time. I want to see the world. See oceans and forests. Please watch over me. Help me become fearless.”

So I took my first steps.

I saw the team of climbers, moving, climbing, everyone in line. Led by experienced climbers, we moved toward the mountaintop, even as I kept wondering, “Why am I doing this?”

But I also realized every little bird has to take chances, leave the nest of security and learn to fly, to be free. Sure it meant risking my life, but I couldn’t live my life crippled by fear.

I kept climbing. After digging and burying carbines, I had this new amazing feeling. It was a wondrous surge of energy, electricity, an unqualified sense of FREEDOM. It was a feeling joyously new to me. I was a bird…I was completely alive.

At the summit the pleasures continued. Outstretched before me were glorious green hillsides, the azure Cetina River, and a necklace of coves with alluring white beaches.

The mountain first seemed to be a cluster of rocks, harsh, unfriendly and beyond conquering. But believe me, they are special rocks. They led me to discovering new strength, new resolve, and the faith that I could take risks, overcome mighty obstacles.

So I often return to Omiš Dinara Mountain to feel the wind and to see my fellow birds hovering over me. I wave to them. They make all sorts of happy noises, as if noticing that I too know how to fly. I do!

Like them, I am also free.

Via ferrata through the Čikola Canyon – Can I fly once again

 

Was it unusual to follow a river that didn’t flow through its riverbed? The Čikola river has disappeared.  It didn’t want to show us her beauty and the joy she usually radiates. We looked for a few drops, but we didn’t find them. We climbed the heights of her canyon to see the Čikola moving, to hear her roar. We went down close to the river bed into the trough and waited patiently, but she didn’t answer!

We were here, in the heart of Čikola Canyon walked through  its beautiful land. Ready to explore the canyon heights, depths, wild and  untouched nature which surrounded us. Wide meadows welcomed us. All around us, it was beautiful and with  multicolored flowers. They invited us to join them. We sat there for the moment, touched softly their petals, and smelled its magic scent. We were drunk of nature and its beauty but had to go on. Where? To climb Ferrata!

Maybe you don’t know what Ferrata is? Maybe you haven’t yet felt the power of a harness with two leashes connected with steel cables, fixed to the rock of sides of cliffs. If you ever have the desire to fly over the clouds and be free, try it. Believe me it is an amazing feeling!

 

We finally started to climb Ferrata.

The Ferrata of Čikola was something unique and remarkable, it was an unknown place for all of us. A totally new experience.  Although we climbed many Ferrata like Perun, Omiš Dinara, and Kozjak several times, we were  aware that we must appreciate nature, all new cliffs, and their power.

I am very experienced in Ferrata but despite that, my little heart was beating faster. I looked at my friends, tried to prepare for my first steps. The climb started! No more thinking this was  time to act.  My sense of adventure boosted my adrenaline. I Felt alive, in my natural surroundings.  I felt free, but could I fly once again?

Sometimes climbing seems impossible, but I knew I have had to be brave, mentally strong and my legs and arms would work perfectly.

I had to climb my first difficult cliff.  My inner voice whispered to me to be brave.  Even if nothing has gone perfect, I had to be patient.

Obstacles confronted me. It was harder than I  thought. I tried to push  my entire body to go on, to reach a distant carved step. Unsuccessful! I was in a trap! I knew I had to stay, took a breath. I wondered how was I going to conquer  this huge  cliff. I tried once again, pushed my body  to catch another carved step with my arms. The first obstacles were overcome!  I did it!

I could  fly! I found  a measure of happiness which I always wanted. I really understood now the meaning of happiness.  I was overjoyed, grateful to God for this perfect gift and day.

We promised  to come back to Čikola river  and enjoy her beauty again. When? In the time  when she will be ready to show us her charms and full beauty. We don’t want to disturb her moments and her freedom of choice. We have the patience to wait,  to discover her charms slowly.  Čikola river will swell again in its bed and we will be delighted to see her full beauty, the most powerful potential of water.

Soon Čikola River! We will be back!

Četvorka iz PK Gojzerice  ispenjala Mont Blanc – vrh vječitog snijega i leda

Uspon na Mont Blanc
Uspon na Mont Blanc

Kamen po kamen,  greben po greben, korak po korak po snijegu, siparu, klizavom kamenjaru,  zemlji, na red je došao i onaj toliko željeni doticaj s Mont Blanc – om, najvišim  vrhom Alpa, na  4810 m nadmorske visine. U tom trenutku i nije bilo velike euforije, ali osjećaji su počeli navirati punom snagom kada su se misli sredile i srce umirilo. Sretni su oni koga  te emocije preplave, a ovaj put taj divan osjećaj dotakao je Ivana Jozinovića (27), Slavena Grgića (54), Juru Rakuljića (29)  i  Zlatka Brkljača (27), planinare i planinarske vodiče  Planinarskog kluba Gojzerice iz Splita.

Iz  Žrnovnice se ova četvorka uputila u  Chamonix (Francuska) najznačajniji alpinistički centar u svijetu koji se nalazi u samom podnožju Mont Blanc-a,  s namjerom da uspenje taj drugi po veličini europski vrh, vrh vječitog snijega i leda. Poletni, puni pozitivne energije,  odlučili su se za ovaj pothvat u želji da prošire svoje planinarsko znanje, preispitaju sebe, svoje  fizičke i mentalne mogućnosti te  osjetite svu radost otkrivanja kako za ovaj tako i za neke nove izazove.

Alpski vrhovi
Alpski vrhovi

Kako kažu ideja se rodila u jednom kafiću  i nije im trebalo mnogo za konkretan dogovor. Započele su organizacijske i financijske pripreme, najvažnije je bilo pripremiti planinarsku opremu, dereze, cepine, penjačke pojaseve, dobre gojzerice, rukavice, naočale i kacige bez koje se na uspon nije moglo.  Trebalo je donekle usvojiti i teoretsko znanje o pothvatu, ali nisu se zanosili   da će cijelo svoje znanje za put i ekspediciju “popiti” iz knjiga… svjesni da je to tek kap u moru u odnosu na ono što ih čeka na tom usponu.

Dolazak u Chamonix, počeo je rasvjetljavati ideju. Sami pogled na okolne vrhove izazivao je strahopoštovanje. Procijenili su da ih čeka, napor, staloženost, znoj i upornost…i bili su u pravu.

Chamonix
Chamonix

Slaven Grgić , dugogodišnji je planinar koji je već ispenjao i Kilimanjaro (5895 m), a za kojeg je i ovaj uspon jedno prelijepo životno i planinarsko  iskustvo.

“Nije bilo jednostavno ispenjati ovaj vrh, ne toliko zbog fizičke i mentalne snage već zbog nedostatka kisika. Najgori dio puta bio mi je 200 m ispod doma Gouter (3817 m). Trebalo se  prilagođavati, odnosno aklimatizirati jer su me počele napuštati  umne i fizičke sposobnosti.  Međutim, onaj  osjećaj koji me preplavio kada sam se popeo na vrh bio je savršen. Preispitao sam svoje granice, uspio ih pomaknuti i još jednom  pobijediti sebe. Neprocjenjiv je to  osjećaj,  a kada se taj osjećaj pomiješao i sa savršenstvom prirode imao sam osjećaj da sam u raju. Nakon ovog pothvata zadovoljan sam i ispunjen čovjek i već razmišljam o penjanju  na Elbrus (5642 m), najveći vrh Europe ili pak na jedan od himalajskih vrhova”.

 Uspon kamenih gromada
Uspon kamenih gromada

Vrlo sličnu priču ispričao nam je i Ivan Jozinović, tajnik PK Gojzerice,  mladi čovjek  kojemu su  priroda i planine u srce usađene rođenjem.  Želja za istraživanjem planina   odvela ga je  na Mont Blanc, a prema sjaju u  očima dok  priča o ovom pothvatu izgledno je da će mu samo nebo biti granica.

“Ovo je moj prvi  zahtjevniji vrh. Do tada sam planinario po hrvatskim planinama gdje sam stjecao iskustvo, vještine, znanje. Odlučili smo se za Mont Blanc jer je najbliži.  Za druge, dalje  uspone jednostavno nismo imali vremena i novca, a s obzirom i na  iskustvo nije bilo pametno započinjati  sa zahtjevnijim vrhovima. Tijekom cijelog putovanja bilo je pozitivne energije, uzbuđenja, ali i straha  jer smo bili svjesni da se upuštamo  u nešto nepoznato. Na početku uspona  dolazi prva prepreka  tzv. Kuloar smrti, jako strma udolina između dva niza stijena gdje treba prijeći uzak put , a ukoliko  se dogodi pad završava se na stijenama ili  u procjepu ledenjaka. Veliki rizik predstavlja i odron kamenja  koji zbog kosine dobiva na ubrzanju  i predstavlja opasnost za prolaznike, a nastaje uslijed porasta temperature. Sličnih je opasnosti bilo mnogo. Dogodilo se  mnogo novih planinarskih momenata, trebalo je izdržati sve napore i izdržali smo, ponekad zajedno, a ponekad i odvojeno, ovisilo je o trenutnim željama, nastojali smo biti opušteni i  otvoreni za nova istraživanja. Taj osjećaj slobode bio je neprocjenjiv, mogao sam se posvetiti sebi, svojim mislima, ali i svojim prijateljima. Ovo je odličan temelj za daljnje pothvate, sljedeće ljeto planiram Elbrus (5642 m), najveći vrh Europe”.

Uspon okovan snijegom
Uspon okovan snijegom

Svaki čovjek kad se nađe na tako zahtjevnom usponu , a s obzirom na individualnu spremnost i zahtjevnost uspona pita se što to njemu treba, pa tako i Jure Rakuljić (29) koji se planinarenjem počeo ozbiljnije baviti prije dvije godine kada je postao član Planinarskog kluba Gojzerice.

“Popeo sam se na Mont Blanc i jako sam  sretan zbog toga.  Jedan od motiva bio je da vidim kako će mi  tijelo reagirati na toj visini i  u kom vremenskom periodu ću se uspjeti aklimatizirati jer postoje i neka genetska ograničenja na koja se ne može utjecati. Bilo je trenutaka kada je bilo naporno, stresno, ponekad i pomalo nervozno, ali sve smo to uspješno prevladavali. Dom  Gouter (3817 m) u kojem smo boravili udaljen je pet sati hoda od samog vrha, a Slaven i ja  hodočastili smo mu dva dana za redom. Nakon što smo prošli Kuloar smrti kojeg je Ivan već spomenuo  nastaju veći problem. Bilo je potrebno prijeći gotovo vertikalni put  od  nepravilno razbacanih velikih kamenih gromada i uspeti se s 3167 m na 3817 m, a pritom su nam problem predstavljale i dereze koje su proklazivale po kamenim blokovima. Kada sam došao na vrh  nisam bio euforičan, bilo mi je hladno i nisam se imao kad prije vratiti u kamp.   Želio bih otići na vrh Veliki Zub koji se također nalazi u blizini Chamonix-a, ali taj uspon je tehnički mnogo zahtjevniji i za to se trebam dobro i na vrijeme  pripremiti”.

Na vrhu Mont Blanc-a
Na vrhu Mont Blanc-a

Zlatko Brkljač također je  Žrnovčani, ponosan na svoje korijene i ognjište pod Mosorom koji ga je i naveo  da se divi i zavoli prirodne ljepote i planine. Ozbiljnije istraživanje započeo je u  francuskom Chamonix-u koje je zaokružio usponom na Mont Blanc tijekom kojeg je  osvijestio svoje mogućnosti, reakcije, ponašanje u nepoznatim uvjetima i zadovoljan je kaže:

“Prvi put sam boravio u ovom dijelu Europe.  Zanimalo me kako ću se snaći i ponašati u nepoznatim i izvanrednim uvjetima. Kad sam počeo s penjanjem na Mont Blanc tehnički sam  bio neiskusan, ali nisam imao prostora za grešku, svjestan da je hod po planinskim  grebenima jako strm,  opasan i da bi me i najmanja greška mogla skupo stajati. Bila je to izvanredna prilika da iskusim nešto novo, otkrijem nove mogućnosti, razbijem granice i promijenim mišljenje o sebi.  Bio sam sretan kad sam se popeo na vrh, ali  sam osjetio i neko olakšanje  jer trebalo je ispenjati  mnogo okolnih vrhova prije dolaska na onaj glavni – Mont Blanc,  a vjerujte bilo ih je dosta i pitao sam se ima li im kraja, ali kada smo se popeli imali smo što vidjeti, pogled od milijun dolara, neprocjenjivo. Prezadovoljan sam kako sam odradio ovu turu. Sljedeći moj plan? Idem dalje uzbrdo!”

Zavijorila se i zastava matičnog kluba - PK Gojzerica
Zavijorila se i zastava matičnog kluba – PK Gojzerica

 

Kada se krećeš u planinarskim krugovima čuješ razne priče,  poželiš i sam postati dio tog ambijenta, izazova, okusiti taj adrenalin… Tehnički, fizički i mentalno  jest zahtjevno,  ali se taj napor podvuče pod kožu i ne popušta. Ovi momci kažu da čestitaju svima onima koji su prošli isti  put jer za uspon treba neviđena samokontrola, snaga i upornosti.

Momci neka vam je sretno na novim pothvatima jer u životu je najvažnije slijediti svoje snove i  imati ih hrabrosti pretvoriti u stvarnost, a što je tako magično u toj planini, dragi čitatelji, možete  istražiti i sami!