woensdag 14 augustus 2013

Week in Magic

Magic Wood, one of my favorite places in the world. Good bouldering and the most stunning forest you'll ever see in your life. I had mixed goals in Magic, on the one hand I wanted to do some eight degree boulders, but on the other hand I wanted to push my level a bit and work in New Base Line (8b+). Working in an 8b+ and try to send multiple 8's isn't an option in just one week. I've discovered that I have a hard time projecting a boulder over multiple days if the time is limited. If I have for example a month and there is now time pressure I have no problems with longer projects, but if I am on a short trip the urge to have some quick successes usually has the upper hand.

Besides this urge to have some quick sends, it was warm in the forest. Not just a bit warmer than usual but more like boiling hot. On the other hand it only rained a few times in the evening. So we were lucky with the weather, it was just impossible for me to try New Base Line. Instead I did some other very good problems such as: Steppenwolf 8b, first time I saw this one dry, wanted to try it for a long time already. Sofa Surfer 8a+, 8a/8a+, needed a night session to stick the sloper, felt like hard 8a+ for me, might be easier with good conditions. Unendliche Geschichte I 8a+, felt good, way better than I expected it to be. The right hand of Darkness 8a. Not a bad score for 6 climbing days.

In October I'll go back for a week. Because Unendliche Geschichte I felt so good and I already did Unendliche Geschichte II I want to try the whole line (8b+). I just need a little more stamina and a good mindset to go for a multiple days project on a one week trip. We'll see how it goes. But before that I'll go on a two week trip to Sweden, Vastervik and Kjugekull. The goal is to climb the Hourglass 8b, a problem that is on my life time to do list.

Photo's Steppenwolf & Wonderboy by: Gerrit Snoek

Photo's Unendliche Geschichte I by: Kenji Tsujimaru

Steppenwolf, 8b

Steppenwolf, 8b

Steppenwolf, 8b

Wonderboy, 5

Unendliche Geschichte I, 8a+

Unendliche Geschichte I, 8a+

maandag 27 mei 2013

Quick visit to the forrest

Another short visit to the forest, unlike last time the forecast looked stable. My intentions were to have a few sessions in the Island. But those plans quickly evaporated when I warmed up on the first day. Conditions where 'summer like', not good for slopers but very good for chilling out. The first day we started at Rocher Guichot, a rather nice area that I never visited before. I briefly tried Le Bossu de Notre-Dame 7c+/8a. A nice boulder but not the best choice, sticking a sloper in the sun is hard when it is 23 degrees. I'll come back to finish this one for sure. We escaped to Rocher Gréau. I wanted to try Le Toit du Gréau 8a, a north faced roof problem without slopers. That one felt hard, I couldn't even do the first move. Luckily the first move was the crux, the following moves still felt hard but not as vicious as the first. I doubted if I could do this one within a few days. In the evening I checked some video's of the boulder and noticed some differences with my method. Especially the foot placement of the first move was different, maybe with the new beta... The second day I didn't return to Le Toit du Gréau, I wanted to do Opium 8a instead. Opium is another 'summer' problem and I previously tried it a couple years ago. Feeling stronger than the last time I tried Opium, I hoped to make a quick ascend. Things turned out differently. For some strange reason the crux heelhook didn't stick, and normally heelhooks are one of my strengths. I couldn't send the problem in one session, so we came back in the evening. The temperatures where way better and that was noticeable to the friction. The only downside where the mosquitoes ;-) Finally I did Opium, a so called easy 8a but for me a tricky one. With regained confidence I went back to Le Toit du Gréau the next day. The new beta worked pretty good, thank God for the internet :-) This one is a hard 8a for sure, maybe even 8a+. After sending Le Toit I was happy, sending two 8a's in three days is not a bad score. But a climber is always hungry! So I began trying the moves of Chaos 8b, the sit start of Le Toit du Gréau. It adds about 10 really physical moves to Le Toit. I had a good session in Chaos and could link all the moves to the starting position of Le Toit, but arriving there I was completely exhausted. Another one for the project list and a good one for warm weather, maybe a summer project?

Opium 8a, photo Sophia Bitlloch

Working in Chaos 8b, photo Sophia Bitlloch

Working in Chaos 8b, photo Sophia Bitlloch

Le Toit du Greau 8a, photo Sophia Bitlloch

zondag 12 mei 2013

Font with a cripple ;)

Three days in Font with Bart, Bart  needed a ride to Font, he had to work on his new 7+8 guidebook but his ankle was broken. The forecast looked a bit grim but we decided to take a gamble. It was nice to have a (semi) local guide me, Bart knows the best boulangers in Milly and he knows exactly what pastries to choose. We started the day with a noisette and a lemon merinque pastry. And...against the odds the weather stayed good all day. We did some bouldering in 95.2, looked for some hidden problems, went to Buthiers, did some more boulering there and some other guide work as well. I had a very good day and did Énergy Collective 8a, Atomic Playboy 7c+ and Symbiose gauche. All three good problems and especially Énergy Collective and Atomic Playboy are world class. Bart did Coince et Danse 7a and nearly did Symbiose gauche, a good performance for a guy with one leg in plaster :) At evening we joked that the whole drive to Font was worth it just for this one day. To make a long story short, the next two days it rained and we couldn't climb. We ate some more pastries, drank coffee and did a good job on the guide work. So one day of climbing in Font, worth the drive? I'll bet you it's worth the drive!
Energie Collective 8a, foto Bart van Raaij

Energie Collective 8a, foto Bart van Raaij

Energie Collective 8a, foto Bart van Raaij

dinsdag 19 februari 2013

New year in Font

With new year I was one week in Font, with some delay my thoughts about that week. It was good to finally touch some rock again, that was almost 6 months ago. With new year the weather can be tricky in Font, actually you never know what you're up to. At the beginning of the week we where 'blessed' with blue skies and lots of sun. 2012 had a nice ending, unfortunately that all changed in 2013. Where we began the week with blue skies, we ended that week with grey skies and rain. Well that's Font, nothing to do about that. And enough about the weather, climbers (me included) always complain about the weather ;)
                I wanted to try Gecko assis (8b+) this trip but due to bad conditions (oops complaining about the weather again, sorry) I had to change my plans. The first day I had a little dyno succes, finally I did La Puce (8a)! A nice jump in a steep overhang/roof that took me a long time to send. I tried it on multiple trips and always came 1 cm short of the jug, but not this time :) The second day my focus was on Sideways Daze (8b), a short and crimpy boulder problem. I can be short about the results of that one, a miserably failure. Bouldering is not all about success, most of the times we fail and sometimes we are even totally chanceless. In Sideways I felt totally chanceless that day, those edges are so small and they really hurt my fingers. Because of that I soon lost my motivation for Sideways, maybe next time? After this defeat I wondered a little bit around in the forest, looking for a problem to get my motivation back. I found Verdict (8a), a crimpy problem I looked at a few times before but never tried. A French local was trying this one and was kind enough to show me the beta. It looked good and more important for me at that moment doable. I about the same time I got my ass kicked on Sideways I stood on top off Verdict. That felt good! When I walked back to the car I walked past T-rex (7c+). The sun was slowly beginning to set, but feeling good of sending Verdict I wanted to do this one two. Within a few tries I sended T-Rex, thanks to beta of some Croatians. This problem , with its long moves, really suits me. I briefly tried the sit start (8a) and made it twice to the final move. I was getting to tired and called it a day. It is strange how thin the line is between failure and success. After trying Sideways I was pissed off and thought that the whole day would suck. But it turned out to be a good day and I managed to do two nice boulders that I wanted to do for a long time.
                The third day I wanted to take it easy and recover a bit. Due to the upcoming bad weather in the next days I didn't had the time to relax, I wanted to make most of my time in Font. I choose to try Conviction (8a). Because I was still a bit tired off the last two days I hoped that I could send this one rather quick, a few months back I had worked a few hours in this boulder so I knew all the beta. Conviction is situated directly right of the Island (8b+) and when I arrived at the boulder German power house Jan Hojer was projecting the Island. It was very motivated to see Jan killing the Island. I wanted to try the Island two, but first I had to settle a score with Conviction. I wasn't that strong that day and struggled a lot with conviction. The nature of the boulder, a two move power problem, makes it 'unforgivable'. I mean it is hard to feel the progress and having a feeling to be close to the send. I was getting closer and closer but still without the feeling that it was almost 'in the pocket'. It was getting to get a bit darker and Jan was already joking about the head torches when I, a bit surprisingly, sticked the topjug. Not the worst end of 2012 sending a project just before it gets dark! Jan wanted to try the Big Island (8c) and I was very motivated to try the Island, we decided to come back after a rest day (everyone needs a rest day  on January the first!).
                New year was crazy in party capitol La Chapelle la Reine, the small village where we slept. At twelve o'clock there was absolutely nobody outside and I barely saw some fireworks in the distance. A big contrast to my hometown of Rotterdam. We popped some bottles champagne and 'deserved' the rest day the day after. The second of January I went back to the Island for a workout try. I have been twice to Conviction and looked a lot at the Island those times but hadn't tried it yet. Actually I never tried anything as hard as the Island yet, so I was a bit nervous about trying it. I hoped to be strong enough to be able to move a little bit in the problem. Thanks to Jan's beta thinks got better than expected. I was chanceless to send the boulder that day, but that wasn't the goal at all. I was able to do all single moves but one, the one move I couldn't do was the crux but I was close on that one. What a pure power boulder is that one, hard compression between bad slopers. I never tried anything that hard, and it was motivating to find out that I wasn't completely chanceless. I know now that it is in my reach to climb the Island. It will take some more days of work and I need to get a bit stronger, but I feel it is possible. We had 3 more days in Font and I wanted to work in the Island every day...but it rained all those days so the end of the week was a bit disappointing. It was still a nice little trip and I found myself a project. This definitely will help finding motivation to train in the gym.

The Island, 8b+. Foto Sophia Bitloch

La Puce, 8a. Foto Roman van der Werf

Ubik asiss...one of the fastest drying boulders in Font.

dinsdag 25 september 2012

One month of Chaos and some comps

It has been too long ago since I wrote my last blog post. This spring I trained indoor, studied a lot (I achieved my Bachelor degree in sociology) and did some comps. Due to finger injuries and study stress I messed up the boulder Worldcups in Log Dragomer and Vienna, because of that I decided to skip the Innsbruck comp to give my fingers some rest. In that period I still went to the gym but I didn't do any rock climbing. That changed in August, the plan was to go to Targasonne for a month! On the third of August we left to the Pyrenees, I felt physical fit and, with my Bachelor degree in the pocket, mentally strong. My goals where high, I wanted to send three 8b's (in perspective, I only did one 8b boulder before this trip).

Targasonne is positioned in the middle of the beautiful Pyrenees on the French side of French/Spanish border. Because of its high altitude (approximately 1500m) it is suitable for summer bouldering. It is still hot on midday but the mornings and evenings are cool enough to climb, the nights can be pretty chilly but I like that. The climbing is on granite, not the Swiss kind of granite but a more sharp and rough type. The shapes of the boulders and holds reminds me of Fontainebleau, with the type of the rock being the big difference . The Another thing that reminds me of Font are the wide diversity of grades, from 3 to 8b(+) with a lot of fives and sixes. This in contrast to Magic Wood (another summer destination) which favors the stronger climbers. I would like to recommend Targasonne as an A-class boulder destination! (and no I didn't received any money from the French tourist council, I just had a good time).

               I Shot Sacronazy 8b (photo by Sophia Bitlloch)

I said that the conditions are ideal on the morning and evening, but to be honest I only know the evening friction. We never got up out of bed early (I hate that) to try out the (supposedly superior) morning conditions. This resulted in a relaxed boulder vacation, the only downside was that I simply couldn't so some of the problems I had on my ticklist (Theory du Chaos 8b and 21 Grammes 8b). That didn't really bother me because I could do a lot of other very good problems. In total I did 8 7c's, 2 7c+, 6 8a's, 2 8a+ and 2 8b's. The boulder I liked the most was Psoas Mole 8b (and its neighboring Psoas Hole direct 8a+), that style suited me perfect; steep, dynamic, edges and heel hooks. The hardest boulder (for me) was I shot Sarconazy assis 8b, the pure physical (body tension) style didn't suit me well. I shot Sarconazy took me about 5 sessions, all of the other boulders I did in one or two sessions. This feels promising for the future, my goal is climbing an 8b+ this winter.

                   Psoas Mole 8b (photo by Sophia Bitlloch)

August the thirthiest we drove home. September the first was the last comp for the Dutch bouldering competition and I had to qualify for the Dutch Championship, I couldn't miss out on this year's Championship as it is organized in the city center of Rotterdam (my hometown). One moth of pulling on granite edges was good for my physical shape (and my finger injury was totally gone), and I easily qualified for the Championships. A few weeks later I was able to compete in the World Championships boulder. I didn't train indoors all summer but I felt I was well prepared for this comp after Targa. I felt good both mentally and physically and I wanted to climb good to finish this international season with a nice feeling. First boulder flash. The second one was a tricky mantel like move, with my height it was hard and I didn't feel the move. Third boulder dynamic pulling on edges, second try. The problems came on the fourth boulder (a power draining roof), I wasn't fit enough. I tried very hard and gave it all I had, got to the last move two times but was out of breath every time. It is hard to recover in the isolation as you only have 5 minutes, coming to the fifth boulder I was still exhausted from the fourth. It was a dyno which took me a few tries to stick (normally I should have flashed the dyno, especially with my length). I fell three times after the dyno (which I think was the crux move) because I was too tired (one time with my hand on the finishing hold). I ended 39th, the lack of fitness costed me a few places but I was happy with my climbing and the result. I feel ready now for this weekend, the Dutch Boulder Championships!

     World Championship boulder 3 (Photo by Patrick Schoenmakers)

     World Championship boulder 4 (Photo by Patrick Schoenmakers)  

dinsdag 27 maart 2012


Een midweekje Bleau met het Nederlands team.
Alles in het bos plakte lekker :)

Four from Font from Michiel on Vimeo.

zaterdag 18 februari 2012

Freezy Font

Arctic temperatures in northwest Europe, most of the Dutch had ice skating fever but I had only one destination in mind...Font! My last visit to Font was more than a year ago so and that was too long go for me so we went for the weekend (3 day weekend). With temperatures between -5C and -12C I knew that it was going to be cold, but the friction was well worth the suffering.

On the top of the to do list stood Satan I Helvete (8b), a 5 star Graham test piece. But unfortunately the Satan block is one of the coldest places in Font, which meant that I was chanceless in holding those edges (damn those painful fingers). We escaped to Rocher du Boulingy where I wanted try Amok (8a), I hoped that it was a little more bearable there because Amok is facing the sun. Well it was pretty nice in the sun, too nice to be honest. Within a half an hour the key sloper of Amok (which is in the sun all day) was getting too greasy, a climber always has his excuse ready...the weather. After the failed attempts in Amok we went to Gecko (8a+), it was getting cold again but I felt good enough to give it some good shots. I never tried Gecko before but wanted to do so for a long time, what a perfect line! I couldn't send the problem but made some good progress in it, next time (and that will be soon) I am definitely going back to the Geck.

The next day Curvier Rempart was on the planning. As a 'warm up' I did some nice problems in Apremont Envers (Clandestino 7b and Welcome to Tijuana 7c) and I tried L'apparemment (8a), in which I had no chance. All warmed up I wanted to do Gourmandise raccourci (8a+), an untypically Font boulder trough a roof. It reminded me off the Swiss boulder style and because of that suits me well, within an hour I did all the moves. But doing the separate moves and sending the problem are two totally different things . The boulder starts on two underclings in the roof, from there you do two throws with the right hand (the right hand is over the lip than), followed by two undercling catches (in the roof) with the left hand before I can get my heel over the lip. If the heel is over the lip I can get all the body weight on it and the boulder is in the pocket for me, but it was hard to keep my feet in the roof. That day I had some good go's and almost got that heel over the lip a few times, close but not in the bag yet. The next day I wanted to finish Gourmandise raccourci, I was sore and my biceps where painful from the previous session (and the cold weather) but I was motivated. The first hours I couldn't link more than two moves, that was pretty demotivating. My mate Tim Reuser (http://timreuser.blogspot.com/) did way better that day, the previous day he struggled hard with the crux move (the right hand throw over the lip) but today he looked promising in the problem. Thanks to Tim I got motivated again and wanted to give it all I had left, it is nice to project together. Tim did the problem rather fast (his first 8a+ boulder! well done mate) and after some close tries I did it as well, my first 8a+ in Font. I was skinless but happy with the send, maybe next time the lower start (Gourmandise, 8b)? With a bit of luck (no rain?) I'll go back next weekend and from 5 till 9 march I'll have a training stage with the Dutch team in Font (oww yeah, it is on!).
Gourmandise raccourci, 8a+ photo by Mathieu Ceron

Gourmandise raccourci, 8a+ photo by Mathieu Ceron

Gourmandise raccourci, 8a+ photo by Mathieu Ceron

zondag 8 januari 2012

Crush in Cres

Christmas is the perfect moment to escape the Netherlands and search for a nice boulder area, good bouldering conditions and a lack of family dinner...We rented a house in Claro, which is only 10 minutes away from Cresciano, for a week. I only had been in Cresciano for a few hours before so there where more than enough problems to try for me, the only problem was that I wanted to do them all. On the one hand I wanted to project the Dagger (8b+) and la Proue (8b) but on the other hand I wanted to send a lot of boulders in the 7c/8a range. For me those two things are hard to combine, I did try la Proue and the Dagger briefly but I soon concluded that I needed (at least) a few days to a week to climb one of them. In an area which so many problems that I hadn't done yet I simply didn't want to devote the whole week to a single problem (with the risk of failure in the back of my mind). So I focused this week on sending multiple good problems that I could do in (approximately) a day. Cresciano is home to some very good and classic problems; Reve the Mario, la Boule, la Pelle, Junge Book, Dreamtime, Frank's wild years (which I had done last year), Kirk Windstein and some more.

Last year I briefly worked in la Pelle (8a) and had a god night session in Reve the Mario (8a), I had some unfinished business with these two problems. I sended la Pelle (the left variation) on the first day and I think it is an hard and technical boulder but a really nice one. The second day I did la Boule (8a), again a great classic! La Boule has a weird and technical start to an edgy and powerful finish, when I finally worked out the sequence for the beginning I had no problems anymore with the rest; long moves on positive edges suits me really good. The day after we had a forced rest day, the only day of rain. I won't complain about it because we had such a great week, besides this one day we had a blue sky every day! The next day it was on again and I wanted to finish Jungle Book sit start(8a/8a+), the day before the rest day I had worked on it for about an hour but I didn't fount the right (foot) beta for the beginning. The boulder can be divided in two parts, the first part is a bit more technical with an arête and the second part is powerful, big moves in overhanging terrain. I really like this boulder, it looks good and climbs even better. Thanks to some locals who gave me better beta for the first part I could send this one as well. Jungle book sit is graded 8a/8a+, for me it felt harder than all the other 8a's I did in Cresciano but I think the style of this boulder suits me the most. That is why I think that Jungle Book sit is (an easy) 8a+, but it could be hard 8a as well. Enough said about grades, back to the boulders themselves. I still had to finish Reve the Mario, the best looking boulder in its grade. Reve is the first 8a of Ticino (FA Fred Nicole, who else), the whole boulder is only three moves; two slabs on the arête and an jump to the top. This sounds easy but all the moves are so insecure (and the arête is sharp as hell), it is hard to feel the progression because every slab on the arête has to be perfect, missing the spot and the attempt is lost (for me) which costs a lot of skin. Luckily I kept my coolness (which means taking enough rests between attempts) and Reve the Mario was in the bag. During the photo shoot after the send (I had to have some pictures of this perfect boulder) my skin became so thin that some fingertips started to bleed, next day restday! The last one and a half day Dreamtime stand (8a+) was all I wanted to do, what a perfect piece of rock is that! It starts with a dyno (one of the starting hold has broken and the dyno is a lot harder than a few years ago) followed by seven semi hard moves. In a few hours I could do all the moves after the dyno but that dyno was still too hard. On the last day I wanted to give it all I had left, a few times I was close sticking the dyno but my skin was getting to thin and my power was drained from all the attempts, but no grief I had an very good week. Next time I go to Cresciano Dreamtime is on the top of the to do list, followed by the Dagger. But that is probably next year, first some trips to Fontaineblau are being planned.

Reve the Mario, picture by Gerrit Snoek

Reve the Mario, picture by Gerrit Snoek

Junge Book sitstart, picture by Gerrit Snoek

dinsdag 1 november 2011

The English boys

Tomorrow I Will Be Gone from Outcrop Films on Vimeo.

Starring: Mikey Page: HELD!

Ik wil ook naar Rocklands.

zondag 30 oktober 2011

Averstal and the end of the Trip

Begin July Sophia and I drove to Magic Wood (Averstal), the last destination of our 6 months road trip (see previous blogs). It was a weird feeling to know that the trip was coming to an end, it felt like the five previous months had been gone so fast. But we still had three weeks to spend and that is longer than most peoples holidays, so no complaining.

Switzerland will never be my favorite country (Spain is the best). The whole country is just crazy expensive and the (village)people are stiff, but if you can look besides that Swiss is the place to be for hardcore granite bouldering in an amazing Alpine setting. This last month my goal was to do my first 8b boulder, I felt fit and mentally strong (I already accomplished my tripgoal; an 8c route). The first few days I walked around in the forest to find my project (it was rainy anyway so no climbing ), there where tree 8b’s I wanted to try: Steppenwolf, One summer in paradise and the Riverbed. Steppenwolf was on the top of my list (I wanted to try this problem last time I was in Magic but it was wet) but in the end it was wet the whole month, it is probably the slowest drying boulder in Swiss. One summer in paradise was the ‘backup plan’, in my opinion it doesn’t look as good as Steppenwolf but still a 5 star boulder. I thought it should suit me because edges in an overhang is my specialty, but after three days of working I still couldn’t do the last move (a strange kind of mantle), this one stays on the ‘to do list’ for a next trip.

At that time I was still hopeful that Steppenwolf would dry and I hadn’t really checked Riverbed, for some reason the boulder didn’t completely attract me. But after another night with heavy rainfall we went to the Wood with little hope to boulder. Almost everything was wet but Riverbed was completely dry, ‘fuck it’ I thought and I gave it a workout try. What a world class problem, this one was going to be my first 8b! On the first day I did all the single moves but one or two, that was really motivating. Riverbed felt like I had a change and five months of route climbing where a perfect ‘training’ for such a long boulder. The second workout day I did all the single moves and I could even do some links (I climbed the boulder in three parts), now I knew I could do it after a rest day. Unfortunately Mr weather didn’t play along, and because of more rain and shitty conditions the send had to wait. I tried it a few times but most of the holds where kind a soapy (moist and chalk), fortunately I did made some progress (I did the problem in two overlapping parts). A few days later conditions became more promising and sending time was about to come. On the day of the send it was cloudy but dray and more important the whole boulder was dry, during my warm up it started do drizzle, ‘SHIT’ I knew I had only one try. On the lip of the roof it didn’t went perfect (http://vimeo.com/27205826) and I feared the worst but the crux section went relatively easy and Victory was mine! Probably one of the most happy moments in climbing for me.

Besides Riverbed I did two 8a’s (Scheesturm and Free for all), a 7c+ (Du cote de Seshuan) and four 7c’s (Enterprise in space, Schneebrett, Jack the Chipper and Fight club). Enterprise in space and Jack the Chipper are my first and second 7c flashes but because Enterprise in space isn’t a ‘real’ boulder (a campus of Enterprise 7a) Jack the Chipper is my first 7c flash. My send of Fight club has been filmed by Ivan Lisica and Sandra Lisica (team Moon) http://vimeo.com/29553057.

That is all tree months ago. Coming back to the Netherlands was dual, nice to see all my friends but bitter to leave the rocks. We had to find a new house, get new jobs and getting used to plastic again. It all worked out, we have a new house, new jobs and I rejoined the Dutch boulder team and picked up my study sociology. My next trip is planned, with Christmas a week to Cresciano. The climbing lifestyle never stops!

All fotos: Riverbed 8b, Magic Wood. Made by Sophia Bitlloch

maandag 22 augustus 2011

Gelato, Pizza and Granite

Begin June we left Spain. The previous 4 months we had a brilliant time climbing everywhere we wanted, it is just unfair how much rock the Spaniards have (especially compared to flat Holland). I left Spain with a mixed feeling because I love Spain but it was time for something new and I was motivated for Zillertal. But Zillertal had to wait because the weather forecast said rain for 10 days in a row (that’s something else than Spanish weather), so we stopped on the way at Albenga. Just a side note: if you look for the climbing area Albenga it is not near the city (it is in Castelbianco). We didn’t knew that and searched for some (frustrating) hours but we found it.

We stayed for almost two weeks in Albenga and I saw most of the climbing areas, there is not one big sector but it is more like the Frankenjura (but way smaller); a lot of small sectors. For me the best grades to climb there are between 6b and 8a but I have to warn potential visitors, a lot of the (especially the harder routes) are chipped so it sometimes feels like climbing in the gym. For this reason I didn’t really liked Albenga for its routes but the pizza and gelato made up for a lot. Besides for me it was good to have a rest after climbing for 4 months on a row so I enjoyed the Italian lifestyle . Special thanks to Ferruchio our Italian host (and retired chef cook), if you go to Albenga stay at Agriturismo di Ferruchio (Teccio, Castelbianco), this man makes the best quiches.

When the weather in Austria cleared up (a little bit) we left for Zillertal. I was motivated as hell and with recharged battery’s after Albenga. The one route I just had to do was Total Brutal 8b+, I saw a video of this route back in 2006 and knew I had to do this one once I had the change. From the beginning of the trip I knew I was going to send this route. I already climbed the route in my mind a lot of times; edges, heelhooks and dynamic moves, that route is made for me! Yes I said made because most edges are made with sika (which I didn’t knew at first), but it isn’t chopped (or glued) as at Albenga, the route almost climbes as a natural granite route. But when we arrived at Zillertal it turned out that the biggest difficulty of climbing Total Brutal wasn’t Total Brutal itself. The route is positioned direct besides a small road and that road was blocked due to road works. This meant that the only times to try Total Brutal where after 7 AM and on Sundays (the work schedule was lacking behind so they worked even on Saturday). Besides these most inconvenient climbing times it rained a lot in Austria (we climbers are always grumbling about the weather), thank God granite dries fast. So trying Total Brutal became a mission on its own and at the beginning that really bothered me but a lot of the other routes in Zillertal where wet anyway so I went for it. I climbed the route the first Sunday after 3 evening sessions of working (1 try a session). Despite that it’s manmade I would still say that it is one of the coolest routes that I ever climbed and I am happy to have done this classic. Besides Total Brutal I did some 8a’s in Zillertal of which I onsighted Still waters run deep, my second 8a os (but the first one is downgraded so maybe my first 8a os). Normally I don’t try to onsight a lot of routes, I just don’t like it as much as projecting (maybe because I suck in onsight climbing) so this one was one to remember for me.

In Siurana and Rodellar we met a Belgian-German (Nina Suntag and Micha Vanhoudt, http://www.climb2climb.be/blogs/micha-vanhoudt) couple who live in Vienna now, they invited us to come visit them when we were done with climbing in Zillertal. Apparently there is some good climbing around Vienna (the locals from Tirol never even heard of climbing near Vienna) so we took the invitation and drove to Vienna. I wanted to see what the climbing in the Vienna area had to offer and my girlfriend wanted to explore the city a bit, Nina and Micha live in the center of Vienna so it was easy to combine those two needs. Vienna is a beautiful city with all its old (famous) buildings and I have to recommend the zoo (the oldest in Europe) and the bars at Donaukanal where you feel like being on the beach for any prospective visitor. Besides hanging out like the normal tourist we climbed at Adlitzgraben, Niemandsland and Thalhofergrat. The climbing is mostly technical on slight overhanging walls which is very different from the climbing in Spain and Zillertal I was used to the last months (and which has never been my strong point). I wasn’t fully motivated this week and I didn’t really care to send any route but I did try a few of Micha’s projects (mostly routes he already did) in this areas. I have to say the grading is stiff but the routes are good and especially the areas of Adlitzgraben and Niemandsland looks like (semi) world class areas to me (I don’t know if it is worth flying to Vienna for its climbing alone but if you live a few hours driving away it is well worth it). I didn’t knew why I was so out of focus, maybe I was just a bit done with rope climbing for the moment. So Micha took us to a ‘secret’ boulder area one day (the locals call it NÖ, referring to Nieder Österreich which is the province the area is located in), a labyrinth full of (semi-loose) granite blocks. That day I got my focus back and although the conditions weren’t the best I wanted to do one thing only: send those boulders! I ripped all the skin of my fingers but I was a happy camper at the end of the day. Two days later, I needed a rest day, we got back and I did my second 8a+ ever (http://vimeo.com/26227524). Thanks to those two days I was super motivated again and we decided to go bouldering the last month of the trip (happy me). From Vienna we drove to Magic Wood in Switzerland; the place to be for hardcore summer bouldering. I have been in Magic Wood once before and there was so much to try and to finish! Let’s do it!

Albenga, 'casa Ferruchio' bottom right

Alpine rain...

Total Brutal 8b+

Victory at the roadblock

Mogadishu 8a+

maandag 13 juni 2011

Rodellar has been GOOD to me!!

After the last blogpost I wrote that Rodellar was the next stop. But before we went to Rodellar we made a one day stop at Santa Linya, I had some unfinished business to do there. I wanted to finish El Koala 8b, last year I had to back off because of a finger injury (pulling hard on a shallow mono) and this year it was wet or moist all the time. The conditions this day where far from great, it was hot and very humid but I had only one day to send the route so, A Muerte! After a few tries I climbed the bottom half which is the crux and was facing the second half (about 7b). The stupid thing was that I didn’t work out the moves of this part because I did a route with the similar end years ago and thought it where only jugs. I don’t think that I have ever before got so pumped in my life (thank god it where only jugs to the top), I almost fell off every move and had the feeling that I had to puke when I clipped the chain. Not my hardest climb (easy 8b, some call it 8a+ but I don’t think El Koala has anything to do with 8a+) but I will remember the intense fight for a long time. I wanted to climb Irac Attack 8a+ as well but you could take a shower under the dripping tufas , next time…

The next day we drove to Rodellar, Catalunya was getting way to hot! I had good memories of Rodellar from 3 years ago: good weather, nice people, good campsite, beautiful nature and my first 8b+. The whole area hadn’t changed a bit (which is a good thing) and is still the most beautiful climbing area I have ever been (nature wise). We would be a month in Rodellar and that means enough time for a project. Rodellar is famous for its long and overhanging routes but I am still more a boulder than a route climber (endurance?) so I picked out the shorter lines. From the beginning of the trip I wanted to try Welcome to Tijuana 8c (my tripgoal is climbing my first 8c) so I got into it on one of the first days. The workout session went pretty good but I didn’t got really syked for it for some reason, so my quickdraws have been in the route for about 3 weeks but I only got back on it once to get my clips back. At the same time I was trying Manus 8b in the Ali Baba cave, the routes in the Ali Baba cave are short and incredible overhanging (up to 90 degree roof climbing). Manus was going good but I found it pretty hard for 8b (and sharp), the next day I found out why; one important hold (the one I found really sharp) was broken off and nobody did the route anymore according some locals. They advised me to try Manus-City No 8b+ which is the right hand finish of Manus, I didn’t found the ‘new’ section of this route harder than Manus (but after the break Manus was harder than 8b) and made quick work of the route. Manus-City No is very much my style; it is a boulder that you climb with a rope on a 45 degree overhang. The crux section is on crimps and I found an tricky (but for me perfect) heelhook which helped a lot. The next route I got recommended was Con Jonas te Estamaras which is 8b+ in one guide and 8b/+ in the other. I think this route is length dependent and with my length I found it easy, the route felt as a soft 8b for me. Unfortunaly a week after my ascent one of the key holds broke, I think I am the last one who did the route in its original state.

With those two in the pocket I wanted to go for the 8c. A few lines to the left of Manus-City No is the route El Quiebraley 8c (and the easier finish Traverse del Quiebraley 8b+), this route goes straight through the roof (90 degrees). Roof climbing is not my strongest point in my own opinion because my lack of core strength (having a good core strength is hard for tall people) and my lack of endurance (I always get pumped pretty fast in a roof). To get fit in this roof I wanted to climb the 8b+ variant first, the beginning (which includes most of the roof climbing) of both routes is the same. Traverse del Quiebraley took me longer than I first thought it would be, for me it was an endurance problem, the roof tired me out so fast. When I did the Traverse I knew that the direct finish was in reach (I had already done all the moves). The direct finish ads 7 hard moves after you do (almost) all the hard climbing of the 8b+ variant. I wanted to climb Quiebraley so badly that we stayed some days extra in Rodellar, on Sunday 5 june in my 4th try of the day I sended El Quiebraley, my first 8c !
It wasn’t easy fysically and mentally: special thanks to Blastoestimulina (best skin recovery crème ever!), Micha Vanthoudt (it was nice to project the route together, even if he did it before me ) and to my girlfriend Sophia Bitlloch who sometimes believed more in me than I did myself (by the way she climbed here first 7a in Rodellar: Tu eres la Primera, WOUW!)

A good way to close 4 months of climbing in Spain, I had a blast!
Austria here we come First stop there is Zillertal

Manus-City No, photo by Bjorn Iisager

El Quiebraley, photo by Lee Sungjae

Tu eres la Primera, photo by Joost Hess

zaterdag 30 april 2011

Update 2

Een teken van leven, een korte update:
5 weken Siurana (en heel veel bezoek, dat was gezellig) zijn we weer naar Sant Lorenc de Montgai (ja daar waar El Chris woont) gegaan om de ‘oude’ projecten af te ronden. Siurana was leuk maar het begon vooral lastig, slecht weer en het klimmen ging me aan het begin niet al te best af. Ik wilde graag Mr Checki en Migranya Profunda doen maar die zijn beide niet gelukt (Mr Checki was close, maar door alleen al te kijken naar Migranya Profunda verzuurde ik). Wel heb ik Bestiola en Kurfil gedaan, de eerste 2 8b’s van de trip. Bestiola is (semi) lang en erg makkelijk voor de graad, Kurfil is keihard maar ook erg kort. In Siurana heb ik wel besloten dat ik lange routes helemaal niet leuk vind, laat mij maar lekker een beetje boulderen aan een touw.
Sophia heeft haar eerste en ook meteen tweede 6c geklommen in Siurana (D’estarnquis en Mayling)! Het klimmen van een 6c was haar tripdoel maar dat is nu verzet naar 7a.

Terug in St Lorenc stond er maar 1 ding centraal voor mij: het klimmen van Guilty.
Vandaag was het SENDING DAY in St Lorenc. Sophia klom haar 3de 6c en ik mijn 3de 8b+ (1ste van de trip). 2 dagen geleden kwam ik nog net een beetje tekort (en viel ik na de crux) maar vandaag ging het relatief gemakkelijk.

Nu genieten en over een paar dagen richting Rodellar.

Guilty 8b+, St Lorenc de Montgai

Guilty 8b+, St Lorenc de Montgai

Sophia boven Sant Lorenc

vrijdag 11 maart 2011

Update 1

Zo…na drie weken uitstellen heb ik de motivatie gevonden om een update te schrijven uit Spanje. Begin februari hebben Sophia en ik ons huis en werk opgezegd en zijn we naar Spanje gereden om een half jaar klimmen “quit your job, go climbing”! Het plan is om 4 maanden in Spanje rond te touren en daarna 2 maanden naar Oostenrijk te gaan. De eerste bestemming was (net als 2 jaar geleden samen met Tim) de Costa Blanca. Gaz Parry en zijn vriendin Kate Mills runnen daar een kleine camping/B&B in de buurt van Gandia (http://epic-adventures.eu/). Omdat onze tent te groot was kregen we voor de zelfde prijs een kamer (met bed!), dat was zo flex dat we een maand zijn blijven hangen.

De locatie en het weer (zon, zon, zon) waren helemaal goed alleen het klimmen ging wat minder goed in het begin. Na ongeveer anderhalf jaar alleen boulderen vond ik het erg lastig om te switchen, de duur was erg slecht en zoals altijd vond ik het weer mentaal lastig om ‘a muerte’ te gaan boven m’n setje. Daar kwam ook nog bij dat ik nog steeds last had van mijn linker ringvinger en rechter middelvinger, daar liep ik al een paar maanden mee in Nederland zonder echt toe te (willen) geven dat het een blessure was. De vorm was dus niet al te best maar dat is geen reden om niet te genieten van de trip en de enige manier om die vorm te verbeteren is door te klimmen.

In die eerste maand hebben we geklommen in Gandia, El Bovedon, Bellus, Los Pinos, Murla, Alcalali, Pego, Pena Roja, Sella en Echo Valley. Ik wilde eigenlijk vooral veel in El Bovedon klimmen (een grot in de buurt van Gandia) maar wat een dosis duur heb je daar voor nodig zeg! Dat was (en is) nog niet aan mij besteed, misschien een volgende trip. Daarom heb ik vooral veel in Murla en Los Pinos geklommen dat is kort en hard, bijna boulderen dus. De routes in Los Pinos zijn redelijk makkelijk voor de graad ik had vrij snel 3 8a’s gedaan waarvan 1 bijna onsight (the Destroyer, Jog Jog en Jog Pat). In Murla zijn alle routes keihard ik heb een 8a en een 8a+ geklommen (la Chaqueta Hidraulica en de naamloze route 15), deze twee kostte veel meer tijd en moeite. In Murla was ik ook een tijdje bezig met een andere naamloze 8a+ (al vind ik dit eerder 8b) maar deze heb ik na een paar dagen (en veel frustratie) moeten laten zitten, je kan niet altijd winnen. Sophia ging wel erg lekker in de Costa Blanca en heeft een 6a, zes 6a+en en een 6b (haar 3de 6b) geklommen.

Begin maart zijn we van verhuisd naar Catalunya. We staan nu gratis op een stuk land van Gaz en Kate vlakbij St. Lorenc de Montgai & Camarassa. Er is geen water maar het uitzicht (en de € 0,- per nacht) maken alles goed. Het klimmen gaat steeds beter en de vingers doen elke dag iets minder pijn (vol crimpen gaat best wel weer goed). In Alos de Balaguer heb ik L’orde de Fenix (8a+) geklommen en in St. Lorenc de Montgai Elektrokusta (8a), El Legionario (8a+) en Vor di Re (7c+ os). Nu ben ik bezig met Guilty een 8b+ in St Lorenc. De route loopt helemaal door een dak en is ongeveer 15 meter lang, eerst 7 makkelijke passen dan 8 keiharde passen aan kleine randjes en dan ongeveer 16 passen ‘uitklimmen’ door het dak. Alle passen gaan goed maar het is moeilijk om de cruxboulder in 1x te maken, de randjes in de crux zijn ook erg scherp voor de wijsvingers daarom kan ik niet elke dag pogingen doen in deze route. Daarom ben ik ook bezig met Irak Attack in Santa Linya (8a+), een goede route om fit te worden, ongeveer 20 passen zonder rust (power endurance). Eerst dacht ik dat ik totaal kansloos zou zijn maar gisteren had ik een goede poging en nu denk ik dat het wel goed komt (al blijft het een erg harde 8a+). Sophia is bezig met Presidiari een 6c in Sant Lorenc, eergisteren heeft ze alle passen gedaan en het lijkt er op dat het haar gaat lukken (het klimmen van 6c was haar doel voor deze trip!). We hebben tot ongeveer 17 maart om onze projecten te klimmen, daarna gaan we naar Siurana.


De niet gelukte 8a+ in Murla

Die kwamen we ook tegen en hij kijkt nog steeds lelijk.

maandag 8 november 2010

Trip 2011

De grove planning:
Februari. Costa Blanca
Maart. Catalynia
April. Catalynia
Mei. Rodellar
Mei. Baskenland
Juni. Baskenland & Oostenrijk
Juli. Oostenrijk



donderdag 4 november 2010

zaterdag 30 oktober 2010

Gewoon boulderen Zondag 7 november

Gisteren samen met Tim, Rens en Grubber boulders geschroefd. Er zijn nu in ieder geval genoeg 7de graads boulders. Jammer dat ik in Bleau zit volgend weekend :p


donderdag 28 oktober 2010