Saturday, October 15, 2011

"Ciubaka" Highline

… The story about the first highline in the High Tatry Mountains

I published the story from the first highline in Tatry Mountains in GÓRY climbing magazine (9 (208) September 2011). I would like to share it with all of you so I prepared english translation. This version is slightly different from the polish original version. I am hoping you will enjoy it. The photos in the article where taken by Wojtek Kozakiewicz and Jordan Tybon. The story will be followed soon by Wojteks movie production. I want to thank my girlfriend for helping me to correct mistakes in a translation of this article.

GÓRY climbing magazine [9 (208) September 2011] "Ciubaka" Highline (full story and photo-report) (Photos: Wojtek Kozakiewicz and Jordan Tybon, Text: Jan Gałek) [P.1: Jordan sending "Ciubaka" Highline in a dense fog] MORE

GÓRY climbing magazine [9 (208) September 2011] "Ciubaka" Highline (full story and photo-report) (Photos: Wojtek Kozakiewicz and Jordan Tybon, Text: Jan Gałek) [P.2; from the top to the bottom: 1. Jakub "Kwjet Hanuš organizing the gear, 2. Jordan going across "Ciubaka" Highline, 3. Faith Dickey sending OS-FM in a swami-belt] MORE

GÓRY climbing magazine [9 (208) September 2011] "Ciubaka" Highline (full story and photo-report) (Photos: Wojtek Kozakiewicz and Jordan Tybon, Text: Jan Gałek) [P.3: Jakub Hanuš sending the line] MORE

GÓRY climbing magazine [9 (208) September 2011] "Ciubaka" Highline (full story and photo-report) (Photos: Wojtek Kozakiewicz and Jordan Tybon, Text: Jan Gałek) [P.4: Jakub Hanuš sending the line, the view from the top of the Zadni Mnich] MORE

"I discovered the void in between the peak of Zadni Mnich and the west ridge of Cubryna peak during my first climbing experience in Tatry Mountains, and for the next five years the idea of putting up a highline to link that space was growing somewhere deep in my subconscious. In 2006, during climbing, the view of Zadni Mnich and the thought of spanning the line above the ridge of Cubryna caused a big emotional surge, though these emotions where quite the opposite of enthusiasm or self-confidence. At that time I had walked about four highlines, however none of these lines were located in a mountain environment and the longest of them was 20 meters while the highest was 30 meters above the ground. That was my main excuse that I had no clue how long or how high the potential highline spot was. That day I thought, “too long and too high …”

My first climbing experience in Tatry Mountains. On the picture climbing together with Agnieszka Tarasińska the 2nd pitch of 'Sprężyna' route (VII- UIAA) on east face of the Mnich.

First impression of Zadni Mnich ...

Slacklining in Tatry Mountains in 2006

Over the next few years I improved at executing highline projects in the United States, Greece, Switzerland, Germany and Czech Republic. While in Poland I never had enough time to visit the Tatry Mountains because I was focusing on other targets, but I never forgot about the idea. I knew I had to go back soon after I completed my other old long-term project, “Potato Power” Highline, which was on the Bolechowicka Gate. For two years I was travelling and facing all kinds of adventures with the same group of friends, and eventually we formed the team named Somewhereelseland. Nowadays the team members are: Jordan Tybon (USA), Faith Dickey (USA), Jakub Hanuš (CZ) and myself. With these people I knew the highline project in the Tatry Mountains was possible. I was sure regardless of the difficulty of the highline at least one of us would cross the gap. It was the time!

L.A.S. Classic - the line which changed my life (OS-FM ascent in 2007)

After reviewing many climbing books, pictures, checking multiple weather forecasts and setting the date we were ready to crush. I left Wrocław with Jordan and Faith. Our friend Wojtek Kozakiewicz a great photographer and talented video-maker joined us in Cracow where we stopped on the way to Zakopane. I had known Wojtek personally for a long time and we had done many slackline projects together, and eventually Wojtek begun co-operating with our team Somewhereelseland. The effects of this collaboration are the movies “Potato Power” and the official video from the 3rd edition of the “Urban Highline Festival”. (I invite all those interested to take a look at Wojteks videos: CLICK HERE)

Six hours in trains and buses were the small price we had to pay to get to Zakopane. After we arrived Jordan and Faith got a taste of the local folklore, as we were flooded with multiple transports, accommodation and food offers. Soon we were rescued by our friend Bartek and driven to our temporary home. My friend, Kamil Kluś was nice enough to let us sleep in his awesome wooden house. That night the last team member, Kwjet arrived. The next morning after packing an amazing amount of bags and 6 people inside a small taxi we left for the mountains. I knew Kamil had organized transport for our enormous bags but I didn’t expect it to be a jeep from the National Park Service. Wojtek stayed at the bottom with our luggage and we started our hike among twenty or thirty thousand tourists up the most frequented trail in the Tatry Mountains.

After a not-so-enjoyable ride with park rangers Wojtek arrived with our bags. A short walk on a familiar trail in the woods lead us to the climbers camping site where we would stay for the next three days. Everything looked the same, as the last time I had been there, the only difference was the campsites chief. We took care of formalities quickly. After a quick breakfast it was time to unpack our stuff and prepare the gear. Our collection caused considerable interest from all the other dirtbags at the campsite. Someone was joking about whether we had come there to climb bigwall style and asked how many days we were planning to spend on the wall. We explained why we were there with all that mess and then started the fun part – hiking. We reached the pass in the Cubrynas ridge after a quite fast but equally exhausting race. Climbing both sides followed speedy gear sorting. Faith and I climbed the route “Uskok” (grade VI- UIAA). The temperature was around zero degrees so after the first pitch I could not feel my fingertips. We reached the summit after another two cold but beautiful pitches. Jordan and Kwjet climbed some virgin terrain without any beta. It looked like quite adventures climb. At the end we left the ascending ropes to speed up the rigging process the next day. We stashed the highline gear inside a haulbag under some boulders, and then we hiked down to the campsite where we enjoyed the warm hut after freezing all day.

The next morning, I woke up and switched off the alarm. It was 3 o’clock and I had slept less than three hours. The only thing I wanted to do was go back to sleep. I forced myself to get up and leave the warmth of my sleeping bag. Wojtek and Kwjet were already up. The inside of the hut smelled like morning coffee. We started hiking in a drizzle. “What a great start”, I thought. The higher we climbed the more rain we had. The fog caught up with us under Zadni Mnich, and the temperature decreased drastically over the next half an hour. While rigging the line Kwjet and I could not see each other. We were preparing the anchors during snowfall with some extra hail on top of it. I was imagining myself lying next to Faith, being warm, thinking “what a dumbass I am being here”. After a full four hours of rigging the line was ready to send and I could actually see it for the first time. It was definitely not as long and high as I thought five years before but I was happy to be there to enjoy the exposure, which was just amazing! If only it had not been freezing cold and windy. Luckily I did not have to fight too much and I sent the 25-meter line on-sight both ways. I could not feel my feet or hands. After me it was Kwjets turn. The Czech-beast Jakub sent the line without any trouble, of course. The weather got even shittier shortly before Faith and Jordan showed up. I knew the only person who was willing to send the highline any time, in any condition was Jordan. That time he went to send the highline in dense fog, during heavy rain. This relatively easy line was not an easy task when you cannot see further than two meters in front of you and everything is wet and cold. Many tries later Jordan completed his full-man ascent. He described it as “he was suspended in space.” I think it is a pretty good description.

The weather the last day was a bit kinder to us. I had an awesome session walking the line a few times in a harness and a swami-belt. Faith sent like a champ on-sight full-man in a swami-belt showing all the boys what it is about. It was amazing to watch Jordan presenting a full palate of tricks on the line and doing exposure turns. Our two friends from Zakopane gave their best too. Bartek Gąsienica-Ladzi sent the line full-man and Kamil Kluś had some good attempts.

At the end of the day we took the line down and hiked everything back to the campsite. It was not easy, but we were able to convince the campsite chief to bring our stuff and us down. I must say the ride inside the Old Russian jeep was a pretty crazy experience to finish our trip in the Tatry Mountains. Luckily we caught the last bus to Zakopane where we arrived late in the night to celebrate our successful project.

I will think about the “Ciubaka” Highline experience for a long time. It was great to face this challenge with all my friends and my girlfriend. I realized that the six years of slacklining made me better person, enriched me with better slackline skills and experiences but most importantly surrounded me with the greatest people I know.

In the morning we went back to our homes where we stayed, as usual, for a short period of time, just long enough to pack our bags and go to Greece for more climbing, highlining and dirtbagging. Did I mention Slacklife?

I want to thank Bartek Gąsienica-Ladzi, Kamil Kluś and Łukasz Janczy for their big help supporting us all the way. It was all easier because of our sponsors support. Big thanks to Gibbon, Deuter, Ortlieb, SteriPen and Five Ten!"

Full Photo Gallery by Jordan Tybon: HERE

Peace & SlackOn!