HEAVY SHACKLES

The route “Okovy” stand out from these lines thanks to being especially mentally demanding – this is one of those lines climbers keep walking around waiting for the right time to try.“ Local climber Vojta Přibyl was patient and the right day for him has come.

TEXT: STANDA MITÁČ
VIDEO: STANDA MITÁČ, JAKUB FREIWALD
PHOTO: STANDA MITÁČ, IVAN KOBR, TRANSLATION: TOMÁŠ ROZTOČIL
| OCTOBER 2021

MINUTES UNDER THE RING

They called it „sporty afternoons“. The group of climbers made many new routes during these regular events. The legendary crack climber Standa “Cikán” Lukavský usually started around the noon after the work. It took them an hour to get to Adršpach and then some more to get under the rock tower. “Then you had to be quick. And mind that we placed all the rings without the aid of electricity,” recalls Cikán when asked about his way of climbing in the 70s and 80s when the “Těžké Okovy/Heavy Shackles” route at Radnice tower was made as well.

This crack line starts off by a narrow cave, which naturally sorts out the climbing adepts. Cikán had no problem fitting himself into the narrow chimney, but Ivan, who was working as a postman in Krkonoše mountains and was delivering his post with sled dogs by then, had to put up a real fight but finally he managed to stuff himself into the crack and through it. Climbing through the chimney works as a natural protection – the rope leading through the rock could prevent the climber falling all the way to the ground… at least in the initial half of the pitch leading to the first ringbolt. But Cikán recalls that they decided not to use that advantage: “We used that cave as a belaying point and climbed on. Ivan crawled into the hole and that was it. Back then, you just didn’t fall from such routes.”

The young crack climber Vojta Přibyl from Náchod, who climbed the route for us on video, followed the same approach and kept calm in the route as well. Originally, he was supposed to climb with the local top crack climber Peter „Jony“ John, who eventually had to change his plans, and so we asked the slackliner Lukáš Černý to follow him through the line. Lukáš have climbed a grade ten on sandstone before but as for the cracks, he belongs among the mortals. Therefore, in this story of a route, you can see what would happen if someone just decided to give “Okovy” a “try”.

How are „HEAVY SHACKLES“?

– Climbs and speaks Vojta Přibyl –

“OKOVY“ AS SEEN BY VOJTA PŘIBYL

A crack delicacy done by the legendary duo Lukavský – Kobr from the fabled year 1981, when Cikán (Lukavský) managed to do several groundbreaking ascents during a single month including “Postřižiny” at Přísaha tower, “Husarský Kousek” at Pegas or “Pravá” route at Medvědí Stěna tower (which is also known as Cikán’s crack bouldering gym).

The route “Okovy” stand out from these lines thanks to being especially mentally demanding – this is one of those lines climbers keep walking around waiting for the right time to try. Fortunately, one can see where the difficulty lies and the border of the no-return zone is clear straight from the ground.

After scraping through a narrow offwidth crack or taking a more difficult outer variant of the overhang (the choice depends on one’s body proportions), climber proceeds to a ledge, which serves as a last point of rest before the crux. The corroded, slightly overhanging offwidth is not so pleasant to start with. After a few meters, the rock quality improves, but the size of the crack does not. The offwidth soon widens from a good knee-width into an upleseant dimension, which you cannot jam neither with your fist nor with knee. It’s time for a proper hand stack. Smart climbers might get by with a double handjam. The leading climber and perhaps even the belayer and his fellow on-lookers will remember these few meters of climbing forever.

The following passage between the first and second ringbolt can still be described as an interesting one and, thanks to some solid sling placements, even relatively safe. After aid move or a swing from the second ring, one follows the line into a beautiful airy corner, which finally widens to an offwidth, where you need all your remaining mental power as well.

Personally, I rank this line among the most beautiful cracks in the wider Broumov area. During my first visits to the area, it seemed unreal to me that I would ever climb something like this line. However, after meeting some of the more experienced climbers and through several lessons of patience and suffering, I found out that using elbows, knees and other bodyparts in climbing can be even more enjoyable than using the “usual” holds. Moreover, it came to me that the local crack lines offer substantial portion of adrenaline, especially in their “no-fall” zones.

– VOJTA PŘIBYL IN THE SECOND PITCH OF „HEAVY SHACKLES“ (foto: Standa Mitáč) –

A ZONE OF NO RETURN

a few more questions for Vojta Přibyl

Where did you fight for the first time in this „no fall“ zone?
I don’t know if it was the very first time, but I remember experiencing such a „first“ moment two years ago in one ! VIIc crack made by Cikán. The line started with a handjam that widened to a fistjam to a proper offwidth. About halfway, I had to scrape up into a small cave, from which I had to jam myself up to a narrow chimney that led all the way to the top. I tried getting up from that cave about three times but I kept feiling and coming back. However, I knew I couldn’t downclimb either, so there was nothing left but to try. After all, I succeeded. The local experts will surely know which crack I’m talking about.

What attracts you to „staying in this zone“?
That’s not so easy to explain. But it probably has to be curiosity, a desire to test my mental and physical limits. These zones offer an entirely different experiences, you cannot find anywhere else. Whether these are better or worse than the rest, that’s a question, to which each climber responds differently. After all, I think that the exclamation marks in the guidebooks work in a similar way to the asterisks that mark nice and protected routes – both attract climbers, maybe just different sorts of them.

What routes would you recommend for an offwidth training?
Trere’s only one rule: Climb, climb, climb. As many cracks as possible. It’s good to start by following someone more experienced. And then start leading easier routes: III, IV, V, VI. Most importantly, stay patient and do not hurry. 

What helps you mentally – what kind of thoughts?
It is best to have no thoughts. In other words – the key is a clear mind. With the bold routes, you have to learn how to listen to yourself and realize when it is the right time to try the route and when it is better to wait some more. Sometimes, it takes years for that moment to come.

Your current off-width goals?
That’s a secret. (he laughs)

Standa Mitáč

Editor in chief

“Climbing is not about the grades and life is not about the money.” He loves to write about inspiring people. Addicted to situations when he does not care about the time – in the mountains or sandstone crags.

Jakub Freiwald

Editor

Professional video editor, cameraman and occasional photographer. He was shooting in China, Argentina, Indonesia or India. His next destination is New Zealand. Motto: „When there is a will, there’s a way.“

Tomáš Roztočil

Translator

All the good tracks lead uphill – he takes them to find adventure, solitude, and himself. He feels most alive moving up there; backpack laden, on a bike, or scaling rocks. In lowlands, he usually tangles into frenzied dialogues with friends.

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