Vela draga is a spectacular canyon situated on the north-western slopes of Učka. This natural phenomenon, which began to be formed by natural forces – earthquakes, winds, sunshine and water – during the Cretaceous Period (over 140 million years ago), was placed under protection in 1963 as a natural reserve, and as a geomorphological natural monument since 1998. The solitary limestone towers and rocks of Vela draga are ideal for pursuing this sport making the canyon, with its 67 climbing routes, one of the most attractive climbing areas in Croatia.
The history of climbing
The history of climbing in Vela draga dates back to 1931, when the legendary mountain climber Emilio Comici established the first climbing route on Veliki Toranj (Big Spire). The Italian and Croatian mountain-climbers began to climb up the other spires and cliffs. But the emergence of Vela draga as a modern climbing hub is tied to 1986, when climbers from Rijeka began developing the first sporting routes, of which some have become ‘classics’ that are climbed to this day.
Location of the cliffs
Most of the cliffs (routes) in Vela draga have a southerly and south-westerly orientation, so they can be climbed year-around.
Best time for climbing
The best time for climbing is spring. Autumn and winter are also good, but it is too hot in the summer. If you do decide to climb in the summer, we recommend the early morning hours or the late afternoon when the sun is low, as well as climbing on routes that are in the shade. Water is mandatory, in high quantities.
Qualities of the stone
Depending on the sector, the quality of the stone varies from solid to very good. We should note that the rock is somewhat flaky at the initial portions of certain routes. The rock is generally characterized by well-set and vertical slabs with crusts, holes and shelves.
It takes 15-20 minutes to get from the parking lot to the climbing range. Use the existing and marked trails to access the climbing range and routes. Please do not move outside the marked trails!
Number of routes and ratings
Although we presented 67 routes in our Outdoor guide, there are many more in Vela draga: some are rarely climbed, as their safety, fittings and quality of the rock are questionable, so they are not shown.
The ratings of the routes range between 4a – 7c+:
- 4a – 4c: 2 routes
- 5a – 5c+: 14 routes
- 6a – 6c+: 41 routes
- 7a – 7c+: 8 routes
- Projects: 2 routes
Sector names / Number of routes / Ratings
- A – Iznad tunela / 7 routes: 6a – 7b+
- B – Okno / 6 routes: 6a – 7a
- C – Furija / 5 routes: 5a – 6a+
- D – Rukavica / 5 routes: 5c – 7a
- E – Gorgona / 13 routes: 5a – 7b
- F – Ljubica / 8 routes: 4a – 6b
- G – Castello / 4 routes: 5c – 7b+
- H – Veliki toranj / 10 routes: 5a – 7a+
- I – Pored tornja / 5 routes: 6a – 6c+
- J – Maslačak / 4 routes: 6b – 7a+ (2 projects)
Establishing new routes and climbing west of the railway is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. This is only allowed on cliffs/sectors shown in the guide. To set new routes, contacting the management of Učka Nature Park is MANDATORY. Climbing on the Svijeća (Candle) spire is also not allowed.
For more information look out for the Outdoor guide to Učka Nature Park on sale at the Poklon Visitor Centre’s souvenir shop!