Pantata and ferrata

I first discovered it thirty years ago on the Dachstein. Austrian mountain dudes in such funny sitting pants clipped a carabiner to a steel rope, said something like "Na gem´ma", as in "Let's go", and - Achtung, Achtung - in a moment they disappeared up in the mist. "That won't do for us", I thought at the time. Will a Czech gentleman ever voluntarily put his belly on the chains and risk getting a steel rope splinter in his navel?

Oh, how wrong I was! 

Even the Czech nation is getting a taste of that strange mixture of mountaineering, rope-walking and masochism, when both the sinewy athlete and the sedentary gentleman turn into Spiderman, or Spiderman XXL, with a single click of a carabiner. 

And I'll tell you why! Because in the Czech Republic, we've screwed it all up again. The Austrians climb from the bottom up, gasping for breath, while we, who don't have Alps, usually ferrate more like làzo plážo, horizontally. Like horizontally...        

The oldest Austrian vertical ferrata on Hoher Dachstein is already a hundred and forty years old, the Czech one in the Jizera valley near Semily is only ten. 

But it was a decade of ferrata explosion. 

Only in South Bohemia we count Havranka on Havraní skala in Český Krumlov, a training ferrata in Tábor and a rather challenging route on the Zářeč side of the Lužnice below Bechyně. But I would like to invite you to two super routes on Karvanice rocks below Hluboka and a third one two bends up the Vltava on the Poněšice side of the river.  

I had the honour to be there when the Hluboka enthusiasts from the town hall and Sokol opened the routes. The Praguers have their metro routes A, B, C, the Hlubočtí have their ferrata routes. First there was the A, which is about a hundred and fifty meters long, actually runs nicely above the water and nowadays is considered, with apologies, rather a children's route. According to the Austrian markings, it has a difficulty rating of "B" and is therefore suitable for beginners, ladies and even families with bigger children. Of course, with the appropriate equipment. 

And because in the peak months it was no longer enough for the climbing pressure, the "B" route came, which is the longest in our country. It is four hundred metres long, that's one athletic oval, it climbs up to eight metres above the surface and has difficulty levels C/D, i.e. difficult to very difficult. You should therefore approach it with a certain humility, there are a couple of places where you are guaranteed to get high. I've seen some people overestimate their strength and come back from the first harder overhang, and it's not exactly the best thing to climb the wire against the crowd...

The youngest sister - the C - can be found some nine hundred metres upstream on the right bank. It is possible to reach it by water or by the road from Hluboká to Poněšice. There is a small parking lot next to it, which is why the "C" route is suitable for families with larger children, thanks to its low difficulty and good accessibility. 

In total, you can climb an incredible 720 metres of great climbing in the rocky canyon of the Vltava below Hluboká!

And the fame of the Hluboká ferrata is growing among climbers. I'm always happy when I pass a crowded rack of climbers' bikes on the cycle path and another party, festooned with saddles and helmets, walks in from the parking lot in Purkarec. Because sensible climbing of the deep ferrata, despite the high level of safety, enhanced by the soft blanket of the Vltava, simply requires a basic ferrata kit, i.e. at least a harness with carabiners, gloves and a light helmet. You can't do at least route B without this equipment and sturdy boots! The nearest kit rental shop, which is also equipped for summer exertions, can be found in the Sports and Recreation Complex in Hluboká nad Vltavou near the baseball field and will cost you three to four hundred to rent for the whole day. 

Routes A and B are best accessed from Hluboká or Purkarce via the EuroVelo Vltavská cycle path No. 7 or by walking along the red trail, there is a pier by them, allowing easy access from the water. From the equipment rental in Hluboká it is just over eight kilometres of easy asphalt road, in the other direction from the last car park in Purkarec it is about four kilometres, beautified by the ruins of Charles Castle. Route C lies on the right bank on the road from Hluboká to Poněšice and, in combination with its older sisters, offers an ideal triple combination for the whole day: cycle from Hluboká to routes A and B, then to Karlova hrádek, to Purkarka for a schnitzel and ferry to the other bank, and cycle upstream through the romantic canyon to route C and back to Hluboká. You cycle through the beautiful valley, descend three great ferrata and float down the Vltava. And all this in just a few hours. Only Hluboká can do that...

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