Žilina a hidden climbing gem

When I posted in a Facebook group for climbing in Slovakia I got a reply from someone who lives in Žilina. When I was orienting about where I wanted to go, this area wasn’t on my radar at all. But after the invite I had a look at some online resources and instantly wanted to check that area out. So after my time in the Tatras I headed over to Žilina, a decision I don’t regret.

I didn’t climb very much, because finding partners for this area is not so easy. But I feel it does need some love and attention because this place needs some more international climbers. I was here in late September and I have to say, not the best time of year. A drier period is better because a lot of the rock is hidden in the forest and doesn’t dry very quickly.

Traveling to Žilina

If you’re happy to just climb at one of the crags then it is possible to use public transport to get to one of the two campgrounds that I mention below. If you want to check out all the climbing in the area then it’s best to have your own transport. Keep in mind when you’re traveling with your own car that you need to have a vignette, information linked below.

When flying there are a multitude of options. If you want to fly into Slovakia then the cities Bratislava and Košice are the best. But you could also fly into Poland, Czech, Austria or Hungary. All is quite closeby.

Where to stay

I stayed at Camping Manínska tiesňava, a cheap and very basic campground. Besides space for tents, campers and caravans they also offer cabins for rent. The cabins just have beds but there is a kitchen with a common area where you can cook and have your meals. The campground is so close to all the Manín crags that you can hike straight from the campground.

Camping Slnečné skaly was recommended to me and is straight under the rocks, I believe. However it was already closed when I was visiting the area. I’m not sure what else is offered in this area. It didn’t come across to me as touristy so options for stay might be limited. I don’t recommend staying in Žilina itself because you’d always have to drive out of the city.

Topo Guides

From what I gathered during my time there is that there isn’t a guide for the area yet. For years there is talk that it’s being made but till this day there is no compiled work available. The locals mostly use the climb.sk website or copies of hand made topos.

The website is being used very frequently, so there is a lot of up to date information available there. For some crags drawings are added for navigation to the different sectors, but this isn’t available for every crag. On the website Sulov Mountains the small topos per crag are mentioned, but I’m not sure how up to date this is.

Climbing

Unfortunately due to weather and the difficulty of finding partners I only climbed outdoors two times. I climbed the newest sector in Súľov called Súľovská Stráž. It has a good amount of easy routes to enjoy and it’s a very short approach. The other time I went climbing we went to Prečín. It has some very nice long routes. Both of these crags are a limestone conglomerate, which offers a very unique climbing experience. It looks like you’re climbing on concrete. Keep in mind that this rock needs to dry properly to prevent heavy erosion.

One of the Manín sectors

The campground I was staying in is very close to the Manín crag. I didn’t climb there unfortunately but it looked amazing. This is limestone in a very narrow gorge, so narrow that the temperature is a lot lower there. During the wet season the lower crags stay wet for a long time.

If you end up having a rainy day, or you just want to change things up, I highly recommend the Žilina climbing gym La Skala. It’s the biggest gym I’ve ever been to and has everything. Lead climbing, top rope, auto belay, boulder and speed climbing.

Gear

My 70 meter rope was often way too long, but there are some nice 35 meter long climbs. I think that a 60 meter rope is enough to do most climbs. From what I’ve seen the bolting is not too spaced and in general in a nice line. The longer climbs might ask for a few longer quick draws but in general normal ones are fine. Anchors are two bolts connected with a chain either with a rappel ring or a pig’s tail.

Climbing partner

The facebook groups Parťák na lezenie and Lezenie nielen Žilinský kraj gave me some possibilities, but not much. In my experience a lot of Slovakians don’t speak English and this might be a barrier for them to get in touch. It could be that you’ll find climbers on the campgrounds during the main season. On the day I arrived there was a climbing couple tent camping, but they left that day. Another option is to go to the climbing gym. But I’d say in general this area is best to visit with a partner.

What else to do

The hiking through the Súľov area was certainly the high point of my time there. Even though I don’t recommend going here for climbing in the fall, the colors in combination with the rock pillars are just amazing at this time of year. Besides this hike there are many other places for beautiful hiking. Another great experience was hiking from a town called Vrátna.

Kostolecká klenba

Websites

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