Vertical holiday

Natalia Ternavskaya for "Stary Zamok"  25 May 2012 11:27  39113015 013386
Vertical holiday

"Where do climbers train here?" People from Onokovtsy, in Uzhgorod district have grown used to this question. "Go across the bridge and turn right" – answer the locals to newcomers. Climbers started attending the local rock for training in the 60s of the last century.

Historic and natural highlights

Village of Onokovtsy is situated only 6 kilometers away from the regional center. This takes half an hour to walk there or 15 minutes by bike or car. Buses from the city centre run to the countryside till late night every 15 minutes. It’s convenient. Therefore, local young people go downtown for work and leisure. But at the weekend, with the first warm days a lot of Uzhgorod athletes and lovers of active leisure hurry here. Just over a month ago a new climbing season was opened.The rock attracts many tourists. Although both in the historical and cultural terms the village is quite interesting too. Suffice it to say, it was founded in the 14th century.

Variegated people

The most interesting highlight of Onokovtsy is a 15-meter boulder on the bank of Uzh canal. It has long been a sort of a mini-training base for Uzhgorod climbers, hikers, rock climbers, cavers and people who are simply interested in extreme sports. When it’s warm not only individual enthusiasts and venerable sportsmen regularly train here, but also adolescents and children: pupils of the PADIUN cavers club and Transcarpathian tourism center. By the way, it is here that the regional units of MOE have their training. For many years, on the rock the city and regional competitions in sport climbing, hiking and cavers’ techniques has been repeatedly held in Onokovtsy.

In a serene warm evening one will meet a variety of people here - athletes, teachers, doctors, engineers, businessmen, law enforcement officers, builders, students and pupils. People come to the rock to develop their skills, in search for adrenaline, to stay fit, practice before the serious climbing or just to spend a good time. However, everyone here finds their own way to enjoy life.

It should be noted that climbing routes usually have levels of difficulty. According to a popular classification, they are measured by a combination of numbers (from 4 to 9) and letters (a, b, c). The easiest route is a category 1a, respectively, 9c is the most difficult one. "The majority of Onokovtsy rock routs have the complexity of 4a to 5a, but on the right side of the rock, where the vertical wall is changed by an overhanging one there are several routes, the level of complexity of which can be estimated at 7a" - says the head of the regional organization of Transcarpathian climbers Sergey Telnov.

In search of adrenaline

Quite a small height of the rock causes the fact that climbing in Onokovtsy is carried out by means of the top insurance, that is, the rope is passed through a carabiner at the top of the cliff. This is a simple way of insurance. Professional climbers generally use the lower insurance.
However, beginners pay little attention to such nuances. Uzhgorod citizen Andrey, who has first tried his hand at rock climbing today, is climbing down, panting. The guy is full of impressions: "It's such a strange and unique feeling when you stand on the top... Just breathtaking – such an adrenaline. It is unforgettable! Heights is not what you are afraid of most of all, it is just difficult to rely on insurance – rope, system... Everything seems so unreliable. Perhaps this is an initial lack of confidence, which eventually disappears".

Many newcomers are attracted by this very first stage of novelty, overcoming their own phobias, adrenaline in their blood. Therefore, the majority, having felt the whole gamut of emotions during the first 2-3 times out on the rock, eventually loses interest to the leisure activity.

However, there are people for whom climbing is an integral part if not of a lifetime, than the leisure for sure. Getting here in free of work hours to the scorching hot rock instead of going to a shady park (or pub) – there is a lot of such "brave" people among Uzhgorod citizens. Sometimes thrill-seekers come here with the whole family, teaching their children to climb rocks from the very childhood.

Rock climbing as a dance

Climbing is something like a dance. Those who started not so long ago move uncertainly, impulsively, and somewhat clumsily, holding only ‘reliable’ hooks, shifting from foot to foot. Experienced climbers surprise with the smoothness and grace of movement even on difficult routes. It is not only the size of the muscles that matters.

"Many believe that the crucial role on the rock is played by strength and durability. This is only partially true. It is not always force techniques that can help achieve results. Moreover, strength may dry out ... Therefore endurance and mastery of movement technique on steep surfaces are not less important for a climber. Technique is a generic term that includes many things: the correct formulation of arms and legs, the ability to balance the center of gravity, choose the most convenient and least energy-consuming positions of the body when climbing, clear, smooth and dynamic movement on the rock and much more", explains Oleg.

Rock climbing is also often compared with chess: in both cases one has to learn to think a few steps (moves) forward in order to succeed. However, in order to master all these skills you need to spend much time on training. Bruises, micro traumas, corns and liters of sweat - all these are trappings on the way to improve the technique of climbing. One can hardly avoid them but such things are unlikely to upset especially if you are doing things that you truly love and which bring you great pleasure.

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