CZECH ALASKA_PART 1.
In the dark days, in the throes of a familiar virus, when our playground had shrunk to the county line, an urgent desire to disrupt the rhythm of that song of my life and kick the beat back up a bit grew inside me. Originally, Lapland was calling me, but my district didn't extend there. Nor did it reach to Havířov, where my dear wife comes from, but the smell of my mother-in-law Eva's segedin and the charm of the Razovite region were irresistible. And that is how JIBE JAHA, or March for Mother-in-Law, came into being.
600km crossing from the Jizera Mountains to the Beskydy Mountains, from Jablonec to Havířov, for coffee and lunch. After completing it, I knew that this was an experience I should not keep to myself. And thanks to the similar opinion of my friends from Vertonewho are in charge of the British Montane and took this adventure under their wing, it was clear that the time had come to share this adventure. The first year Montane JIBE JAHA, 300 and 600 miles through our mountains, forests, fields, meadows. Nonstop, with the support of fate and chance, with your own self, to wherever they let you go. Limit 6 and 12 days. Three checkpoints. But mainly endless experiences and in a word classic, not always pleasant.
Nice date 3.2.2023 eleven brave people lined up on the dam between the Jablonec dams, nine of whom set off at 10:00 a.m. (the other two are members of the relay team and their turn will come later). And if an experience, an intense one from the start. The wet falling snow soon turned into wet rain.
We all had a clear strategy to get as close to the sky as possible to move into the snow zone with the higher altitude and mountain climate. However, due to the wet and deep snow, it was a very slow and improvisational process. After only ten kilometres we were all wet to the skin. And to keep from getting unnecessarily warm, a fresh wind started to pick up as well.
The higher we got, the more it rained. Fortunately, even in this bad weather, the Jizera Mountains main road lived up to its name and quite a few sections were modified. At least a bit of civility for the discomfort. The Jizera Mountains may look like peaceful mountains, but today they decided it was time to repair their reputation. The wind was getting unnecessarily fresh, and when the starting field was between Rozmez and Jizerka, lo and behold, someone started taking pictures of us.
But when he takes pictures of Muha, the spirit of the Jizera Mountains, first there is lightning, then thunder and then hell breaks loose, which led me to believe that it was not a flash from the camera, but from the sky. It was no coincidence that quite a few of us gathered in a pub in Jizerka, where we sought refuge from an unusual winter storm. Robert Bartos was caught by the storm far from the shelter, so he rightly decided not to fight the elements and returned to Bedřichov, where he finished his journey. He was still satisfied and our congratulations to him. When the storm had passed, we all set off with reluctance.
However, a break and a short-term improvement in the situation led to a break in the hardship and the riding was good. This was followed by a short visit to Poland, where the ride was fast on groomed routes. The Bat liked it so much that he inadvertently added a few extra kilometres, but in the end we all did that during the race and it's part of the job. Darkness fell and the descent into Harrachov through the narrow corrie was fun.
Martin Šilhán even had the honour of being hit by a dogsled like in Alaska, even though he had a red blinker on his sled. From Harrachov to Vosecká bouda it was just a long uphill and in deep darkness. Unfortunately, Matěj Jakoubek left the race here, but after half a year without movement, it was no wonder and we were happy to have such a person by our side.Congratulations, it was an honour for us.
The shelter above Krakonoš's breakfast became an unwanted destination for Martin Šilhán, who had long hoped to continue here, but due to broken bindings and frostbite on his fingers he had to descend back to Harrachov. He was not happy about it, but he did great for us and has our respect. And he already knows that next year he will do a repeat.
As soon as we left the protective hand of the forest, a strong wind took us in hand, which grew stronger and stronger as the night hour approached. The first to arrive at Vosecká were the guys from the Polička is a Golden Ship team, Martin Mazal and Vitek Pučálek, experienced mountain men. It was very cheerful and full on Vosecká. This was mainly because the Mountain Service had to evacuate 13 tourists due to dangerous conditions.
Fortunately, there are people in Vosecký who understand the workings of the mountains, so they had no problem letting these tourists stay overnight in a pub on the ground. Martin and Vitek are no newcomers, and so, despite the reluctance of the innkeeper, who was afraid that nothing would happen to us, they set off after ten o'clock in the evening on the exposed section through Vrbatovka to Špindl. And this in very extreme weather. What they experienced they have to tell you themselves, but if even such tough guys say that it was a struggle, it was not a walk.
I chose the strategy to dry things, wait for Hosta, Kopis, Bat and then go. But as I was waiting, I had a beer, so I didn't just sit there, I had a second one. After eleven o'clock, Hosta and Kopis arrived and from their condition it was obvious that conditions were getting rather worse. They were not into singing, but they were laughing. Then before twelve we were joined by Bat and nobody wanted to even imagine the idea of going on.
But Vosecká was bursting at the seams and officially it was more than full. Fortunately, the innkeeper knew what was going on outside and offered to sleep under a table in the pub. We were all grateful to him and after another beer, instead of going to Špindl, I collapsed under the table into my sleeping bag. We sincerely hope that because of his kindness the pub landlord didn't have any problems afterwards. Thank you.
For me, the wake-up call was at four in the morning and I was off before five. The rest of the group sensibly indulged in a slightly longer stay under the table. By the time I opened the door, I believed the weather must have calmed down. But where it did, the opposite was true and in places the wind had picked up to hurricane levels and to complete the picture, it was snowing horizontally. I hesitated, but once outside.
I took the contour trail to Labská meadow, the wind was whipping me, my poles were sinking deep into the wind, visibility was poor and the movement between huge snow tongues was scary. But it was still in the 'wow that's cool' style, and one still pulled out one's phone to record it. I still used the phone to call the Guest and strongly recommended we head out when it was at least light. It was more of a subtle command, as the idea of my sweetheart and friends making their way through this in the dark was unacceptable.
I thought I'd drive to the shelter of the Four Gentlemen's, and wait there until daylight. But when I passed it, the entrance was almost completely covered. So there was no time to waste. I had a hard time keeping the right direction when going to the cairn of Hanč and Vrbata, but fortunately I could still guess where roughly the next pole would be, and every time I found another pole it was a small victory. As soon as I reached the ridge, the wind picked up to extreme strength and my body had to switch to survival mode.
I got to one pole and tried to guess the direction to the next one, but I couldn't find it. I knew I couldn't just go in blind. So the rule of thumb was to go back, but upwind was almost impossible. I didn't have any goggles on and I couldn't see anything. I couldn't get back to the pole. The wind gusts knocked me to the ground several times. My head was going full blast and I knew I had to stay calm and not panic. I also knew I had to figure it out on my own.
Calling HS and endangering others with your behavior would be the last option. My left eye froze and I couldn't open it. the only thing I knew was that I was on a slope and that I had to go back up to the ridge where the cairn was and it would direct me. But moving up was almost impossible. I needed to at least get a direction.
I took out my phone, which fortunately was working, but the wind tore it out of my hand. Moment of terror. Luckily it got stuck behind a clump of snow and I jumped for it like a miracle. I was able to pinpoint the right direction, but I felt like my position on the maps wasn't working correctly. According to the maps I should be about 30 m above Vrbatovka, but that didn't seem to be the case. Another problem was caused by snow flying at high speed just above the ground. I had the feeling that I was going downhill, my feet were in the plough, but it was an optical illusion and I was standing still. As a result, I kept falling to the ground.
Getting up when you poke a stick and it sinks almost entirely into the snow is a difficult task. Step by step I move somewhere and suddenly the silhouette of Willow Tree appears in front of me. A huge rock falls off me, because I know I won't have a cairn next to Hanč and Vrbata. Struggling in the snow, I walk around Vrbatovka to find some shelter. At the main entrance, which is locked, hangs a sign that says if you have a problem, call HS. It's okay.
After a second inspection, I find a shed where a scooter is parked. So I have to forcefully take off the petticoat and shovel away the snow, but it's the only option. I'm inside, frozen but happy. The shelter has a window to the kitchen. Before 7:00 a.m., the kitchen lights come on. Apparently, when the man in charge (a Trauntenberk sort) realizes he has an uninvited visitor, he walks over to the window, doesn't even open it, and dryly asks what the hell I'm doing there. When I tell him what I'm doing there, he just tells me not to smoke, that he's got a scooter there, and to close the door properly when I leave so he doesn't blow in.
I stood there like I was scalded, but thanks to the adrenaline I warmed up quite a bit. I wasn't expecting any invitation to come in or any service. I know very well that I went there willingly and voluntarily to the extreme conditions. But we're in the mountains and the basic principles of humanity, camaraderie and helping should work in these exposed places. For me, in this situation, just the sentence 'Are you okay? Do you need anything?' and I would reply that everything is fine, I don't want anything and that I thank you for the asylum.
But it doesn't work on Vrbatovka and although I don't know the conditions there, I know one thing for sure, this man doesn't belong on the mountains. In the early morning twilight I set off on a long descent to Špindl. By that time the guys in front were already somewhere on the ridges again. In Špindl they were taken care of as their own by Aunt Vera, who had the first checkpoint under her thumb. Hosta, Kopis and Bat also set off towards the white hell. The weather stubbornly persisted, but at least they had light. Still, it was a very intense experience for them, which tested their abilities. And from the already open Vrbatovka they had the same opinion about Trautenberk.
To Aunt Vera's checkpoint Snowtubingpark I didn't get there till 8:00 in the morning. The refreshments, the warmth and the kind words were encouraging. However, it is not advisable to waste daylight unnecessarily, so I soon set off again for the ridges. Fortunately, I hadn't planned a route to their full summits, but even so, the strong winds and snow showers didn't make the journey any easier. Moreover, from Špindlerův Mlýn to Černá Hora it is almost always uphill.
During a break at Klínovec I found that in the group behind me, which had just arrived in Špindl to my aunt's, there was a sense of hardship and thoughts of finishing the race. I knew I had to do something to make them keep trying. Just then the cloudy sky suddenly opened up and the sun lit up the white landscape around for about half a minute before another snow flurry came. I managed to take a quick picture of the beauty and send it down, knowing that it was no longer windy up here and the sun was shining. And also that we could possibly stay in Klinovec.
They went on and made me very happy and certainly themselves too. On the way up they did not see the sun anymore, and after dark they reached Klínovka, where they arranged themselves according to the motto "Morning is wiser than evening". Meanwhile, I enjoyed a beautiful and long descent from the ridges of the Giant Mountains to Horní Maršov. According to the gps tracker I saw that the guys were having dinner at Rýchorská bouda, but I knew that staying somewhere longer was not their style.
Moreover, from the last time I remembered the brutal hill to Rýchory, so I proceeded with discretion. However, I had forgotten how long and steep a climb, to a part of the Giant Mountains completely unknown to me, it is. In the forest, the trees creaked under the wind gusts like a concert, and I was constantly on the alert. Lots of fallen trees were a warning signal that we needed to go with the utmost vigilance and keep an eye on what was going on up there.
I arrived at the hut in the evening hour, but fortunately there was still the last of the boys' dinner left, and it ended up being a bed. Meanwhile Martin and Vitek were descending through the dark night and in a very free style to Trutnov, because Rýchory is a wild part of the eastern Giant Mountains and often what you don't break you don't have.
I set off in the dark in the early hours of the morning. At the beginning I had to make my own trail, because the wind hid everything under a blanket of snow. In the forest it was then a fair freeride and often the only way to stop the two-meter boards was to somehow intelligently cut out. It didn't always work and it was comical. A little above Žacléř near Stachelberg I waved goodbye to the Krkonoše for good and at dawn continued my adventurous descent to Trutnov.
There, for the first time, it was time to put the sled on my back and put on my running shoes. At Klínovec, things got moving too, and the rest of the starting field set off on their way. At that time Krakonoš finally calmed down and for the first time it could be said that the sun was shining. Apart from a few personal battles, their journey was going well. In Horní Maršov, at the 100 km mark, the second part of the relay, Lenka and Vitek, were waiting for Hosta.
The handover took place peacefully during refreshments in a local restaurant in the company of everyone. Kopis and Bat ended their journey here, because they knew that this was enough to start their collection of experiences. They have outdone themselves and for that they have my great respect for having made it this far even in these conditions. Hats off to Hosta, who had to touch herself, didn't let herself get discouraged, and even had the desire to go on the trail again. Lenka and Vitek set off towards Rýchory.
It was nice to walk in normal shoes and I even enjoyed walking on the asphalt. At the same time I felt sorry for the guys in front, because they were walking the whole time in just skis, and it must have been hell (as they confirmed at the finish line). It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was a shot of optimism into my veins. Above Trutnov, it was possible to put on the tourist skis again and sometimes even admire the enthusiasm of the locals when they were snowmobiling their tracks in the fields.
However, it was not easy to walk through the part of Broumov region on skis, where one walks more in summer than in winter, zigzagging through deep snow between fallen trees. Fortunately, I had the advantage of following the tracks blazed by the boys. The trail around the Adršpach Rocks was well-traveled, and it was a beautiful sight to see the scenery around. The boys were almost in Police nad Metuji, where there was another checkpoint at the house of "aunt" Péti, Martin Šilhan's wife.
But they were so fast and they came even earlier than they were supposed to. habitat Open. Petya and Martin drove as fast as they could, even chased them around town, but they never found them. However, the boys managed and ended up in the first pub. I was four hours late and could enjoy a delicious goulash, cake and coffee in the nice presence of Martin and Petra.
Meanwhile Lenka and Vitek were working their way through the pitfalls of Rýchor. Vitek's equipment often did not cooperate and the load on the sledge was carried. Still, they slowly but surely moved forward until they reached Trutnov late in the day. There they decided to bivouac at the station, and when the stationmaster saw them, he let them into the station booth where they could sleep in the warmth and smell and regain their strength.
The darkness fell also on the Broumov walls, which I was difficultly zigzagging through, and it was a bit spooky there. Rock walls, dense forest, fallen branches and nobody anywhere. The guys in front were slowly approaching Náchod, and I wished I was getting there too. The official route was impassable, so I had to improvise and chose a route through the fields.
At the beginning it went well, but then the snow started to fall, and it was more like a slalom between lumps of dirt. Fortunately, under cover of darkness I was hidden while climbing over the fences that divided the pastures. Sometimes the fence could not be climbed, and I improvised intricately over thickets and streams. But I kept my direction and could see the lights of Nachod in the distance ahead. Then I had to take off my skis, put on my boots and walk, which was again a pleasant change. Martin and Vitek had finished this and climbed along the infantry logs to Ceska Cermna, where they bivouacked at the bus stop, because it was already late in the evening, and especially a solid frost of -15°C...