Mind the Crack: what it takes to find motivation for a classic bold Adrspach route

19. 02. 2020, Vašek Krejčí

You’ve probably heard this line before: “Yeah, that’s a nice one. Go for it. I’m sure you’ll like it. There might be some runouts but nothing insidious. You can always find some holds and place slings as well.”  That’s the sort of advice my climbing teacher, Jarmila, gave me about the infamous “Parrot Crack” (Papouščí spára, VIIc, „6a fr.“) at the Parrot tower in Adršpach.

She went on: “People think that this “Parrot Crack” by Richter is hard… but that’s just a myth. In fact, it’s just another classic Adršpach route, nothing special. I remember climbing it in 1978 with my friend Zdena. We took some old work gloves and wrapped our wrists in duct tape. I lead the first pitch – it’s quite a trek. I tried to place some knots into the corner crack but failed. Then, somebody shouted from below: “Don’t bother with it and just climb on.” Hmm… so I did, and a few moments later, there I was clipping the first ring. Zdena then climbed the final slab without any problems.”

This year, I got quite confident about my climbing skills. I’ve sent some pretty interesting routes, some of which Jarmila hasn’t ever tried. To name one – the famous “Whiplash” VIIIb, „6b fr“. (See eMontana video). After talking to Jarmila, I decided to go check the “Parrot.” “It’s a mere VIIc and I am already a big sandstone climber,” I thought. The season was nearing its end and I already climbed some nice cracks that summer. Yes… my sling placing skills are miserable and I seldom trust the knots I place, but Jarmila told me that she didn’t place any into the crack anyway, so why bother… And the UFOs? Forget about that. Jarmila did it without those, and so can I!

I scrutinize the route… it looks pretty good, but wait… where’s the ring? Oh… there it is. At least twenty, maybe twenty-five meters off the ground and just beneath it, there’s a small overhang with a sort of a cave. It doesn’t look too hard but there seems to be quite a scary no-escape zone. I inspect the crack for five minutes and imagine desperately trying to clip in the ring too soon… my heart is thumping. Not today. Honestly, I don’t feel good about that route. I’m not gonna climb it!

Then the beginning of the semester came, and with the finals approaching, I had to forget about the wild sandstone adventures for a while. Time to grind some training routines in the climbing gym.

The night before the exam, I couldn’t sleep. I had a pretty weird dream, in which I was frustrated that I haven’t sent the “Parrot Crack” yet, so I decided to try it. I took my UFOs with me and I started climbing. I was freaking out, but I finally managed to place both of those UFOs just under the scary overhang. I clipped the ring without any issues. It even felt quite easy. Suddenly I felt so bitter and ashamed. I woke up. For 50th time that night. This route just doesn’t let me sleep properly! I guess I’ll have to try it next year. I can feel adrenaline rush just thinking about it. Psychosomatics in practice…

It’s funny. Two girls climb “Parrot Crack” some thirty years ago and this egoist guy, who thinks he trained enough in the gym, cannot sleep for the whole winter. Will I finally get some sleep next summer? Let’s see. Maybe the faith that all is going to turn out well, will get me to the top once again, and remind me why I climb rocks anyway.

Pete Whittaker climbing up to the first ring (photo: Jan Šimánek)

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