14 juli 2014

Worldcup Chamonix

I am writing this blog from our apartment in the medieval town of Briancon, after a nice day recovering from the Chamonix Worldcup (e.g. climbing and enjoying the sun). Today I caught my first spells of sunshine since our arrival here in France. The weather in Chamonix was terrible. Fortunately, thanks to the perfect organization, the competition could go on anyway.
Super cool moves in the qualifications (picture by Paul Lahaye)
The Worldcup in Chamonix was not too good for me, but it wasn't really bad either. I am still searching for the 'competition mode'. My head is not in the right place yet and I think the only way to get there is to be patient. I guess I just need some time to get used to climbing competitions, handling the pressure and make fun again after a long period of being injured.
Semi finals (picture by Paul Lahaye)
Anyway, I was already climbing much more relaxed in Chamonix then I was in China. Like I said, it's not the way I want it yet, but I am sure it will come if I just give it some time (which might be the hardest, I want things to be perfect NOW ;) ) In the end I made semi finals in a really strong field and placed 19th. The Worldcup in Chamonix is always a really hard competition, in which I managed to make semifinals only once before. So I guess 19th isn’t that bad after all.
This week I will stay in the Briancon valley, climbing outdoors and celebrate some vacation, before competing in the next Worldcup here next weekend. Stay tuned for some updates!

24 juni 2014

Worldcup Haiyang

I just came back from Haiyang, China, where the first Worldcup of the year took place. I ended up 15th, which was not really satisfying. In qualifications I was looking for the right mindset. I couldn't find it in the first route, but in the second route I almost got it. It has been a while since I have been climbing competition and I am still missing the confidence to climb well. Before I went to China I was not sure at all about by fitness. In semifinals I started pretty calm, but already really early in the route there were some tricky moves. I could easily make those moves, but not statically. This kind of scared me and made me climb the rest of the route really tensed. I forgot to rest and just speeded up in automatic mode. When I arrived at an even harder, trickier move I didn't think for a second and just pushed it, which was not the right decision. All the other climbers hesitated for a moment and then changed their plan. I should have done that as well. In fact, if I would have been more relaxed and confident I probably would have feel that it was too hard this way. Anyway I didn't and I fell off.
Semi finals (Picture by Heiko Wilhelm)
The result was pretty disappointing, especially because I was not pumped and only a little bit tired when I fell. It's always annoying if you can't give all you have in a competition. But there were also some positive points and I gained some confidence out of my climbing in semi-finals, that I am fit enough. Now there are some pretty clear things I have to work on before the second event, which will take place in Chamonix in a bit more than two weeks.  

16 juni 2014

Dutch Champion in Bouldering

The national boulder championships are always a small celebration for me. I am not favorite for the title and bouldering is not my discipline. So I can just relax and enjoy the competition. In lead, on the contrary, the national champs are terrible. There is so much pressure, which makes it really hard to climb well. 
This year this contrast was even stronger. Since I have barely done any boulder training in the past months, I didn't have the illusion that I could win. The day before the competition I was super relaxed, like there was not even a competition coming up. This feeling stayed during the competition. The only thing I was a bit tensed about was my knee and the fact that I'm still a bit scared to fall. Luckily I flashed all the boulders in the semi finals, so there was nothing to be afraid of. 
In the finals I managed to flash the first two boulders. Then I failed on the slab, partly because I was scared, partly because I am not used to this bouldery style anymore. It's crazy how much the type of movements in bouldering and in lead drifted apart the last couple of years. I seriously believe that practicing the 'boulder competition style' has become absolutely useless for lead competitions. Bouldering and Lead are becoming two different sports, in which the way you have to move and position your body are almost contrary to each other.

Anyway, since Vera and I had exactly the same score after the third problem, it all came down to the last boulder. This turned out to be so extremely hard that we both didn't manage to reach the bonus hold. Since I had a better score in semi finals, I won the national title based on count back. 
Now it's back to lead climbing. The day after tomorrow I am flying to China for the first World Cup of the season. I am really looking forward to start again, although I am also a bit tensed about the influence my knee injury has had on my current level. We will see, I can't wait to start! 
Podium (pictures made by Sytse van Slooten)

9 juni 2014

Rodellar and Berdorf

Some weeks ago, when I booked by flight to Spain, the conditions in Rodellar were perfect. Unfortunately this period of nice weather ended just before we arrived. All the tufa's were wet and it didn't stop raining until our last day. Surprisingly, I had a really good time though. We decided not to wait for the big walls to dry, but to start working on the smaller sectors which stayed dry during the rain. Those sectors were covered in 7's, which forced me to spend my days onsighting loads of routes. I just had to accept that I was not going to send something really impressive and started to see this trip as a nice opportunity to train in one of the most beautiful surroundings I have ever seen.
During my stay I onsighted 20 routes 7a and harder, including one 8a named De vuelta al convento. All together it was a really good training for the upcomming competition season. By the end of the week it felt like I could 'read' the rocks much faster and my climbing felt more natural. Besides I worked the moves in some hard routes I really wanted to try. The holds were too wet to really give it a go, but I will definitely come back for those lines!
Back home I repacked by bag to spend two more days outdoors, in Berdorf this time. It has been two years since I last visited this area. During that trip I worked some of the hard lines, but failed in nearly all of them. Only in Hermann Buhl (8a+) I could make all the moves, so the goal for this trip was clear. When we arrived the rain was pouring down pretty heavily (again, pfff ;) ) but we could climb a bit anyway. The conditions were horrible though, which we didn't notice until the next day, when it was sunny and the moves felt much easier. I managed to send Hermann Buhl on my third try of the trip, after two workout sessions (one with humid and one with dry holds). What an amazing line! I finished the day with a good attempt on Borderline (8a+/b), which felt definitely 'do'able. I guess I have to come back soon to finish it!
Hermann Buhl, two years ago (Picture by Rogier Mattens)

25 mei 2014

First place at Lead 1

My knee is completely recovered and I have been able to train for 100% again lately. Today it was time to test if all those hours paid off and if I'm on the right way for the international season. I have to say, I was really missing a lot of selfesteem lately. I am searching for the right mentality, which is pretty hard at the moment. A lot has changed in the national team lately, which is not a bad thing, but changes are always exhausting. But maybe I had a hard time mentally as well because because the last time I climbed a competition was in November. So the competition today came at exactly the right moment (this morning I wouldn't have agreed if you would told me this, but it really did).

During the finals (by Dimitri van Hezik)
Today's competition was Lead 1 in Bergschenhoek. I managed to top out all routes, including the finals, without having a really hard time. That was enough for the first place. Although I was pretty nervous, I climbed pretty relaxed and actually enjoyed it. I guess it's just time for the competitions to come. The right mentality will come with them ;)

Tomorrow I am going to Spain for one week. Really looking forward to relax and enjoy some rocks after a pretty stressfull period!

17 april 2014

Siurana - back on rock

After a long period of revalidation, meaning little climbing and doing a lot of exercises, my knee finally got better. When my leg got functional again (before I was often falling of routes, frustrated from that useless 'thing'!) it turned out that I had gained a lot of strength. I was actually feeling stronger than ever. The recovery got just on time for my next climbing trip, which started two weeks ago. The initial plan was to visit some areas in Catalunya. We started in Siurana, which was so nice, with the scenic village, the beautiful view and the impressive walls. We decided to stay.

For training goals I started working on Migranya (8b) and Kale Borroka (8b+), which are two completely different routes. Migranya is short and powerful and super overhanging, known for the long moves. Kale Borroka, on the contrary, is a 40m endurance route on the overwhelming wall of El Pati, next to all the famous lines. I spend the first week working on those two routes and climbing many straight walls and slabby routes. I have never been really inspired by the straight walls, but that definitely changed in Siurana. I was happy to onsight L'escamarla 7c+, a super technical straight route. I had to fight so hard to get to the anchor and I really surprised myself by onsighting it. It's always nice to impress yourself on routes you thought to be your anti style.

The second week it was time to finish the projects. I had some doubts whether or not I could send them in the few days I had left. People always told me I shouldn't try Migranya. The moves would be morpho and for as far as I know, little or no women have climbed it. However, I could make all the moves and it was just a matter of time. But then it's always the question, how much time? After falling passed the crux a couple of times I was able to send the route many days before we left. This ascent feels more special than the other 8b's and 8b+'s I have climbed before. It's the first time I climb a project which doesn't really suit me. That made the mental game much harder, yet much more rewarding. 

The day after the ascent of Migranya we took a rest day. The day after it was time to get back on Kale Borroka. I executed the overhanging part pretty smoothly in my first go of the day. Then I got to the crux, a sequence of many tiny edges, more than 30m above the ground. I got really pumped and started to throw myself desperately to the small holds. Amazingly I kept sticking them. With one last desperate move I throw myself to the final jug and managed to hold it. 8b+ in the pocket! Fourth go.

I always need some confirmation about my fitness. I was pretty scared that I would have lost a lot of endurance and strength in those weeks I couldn't use my leg. This trip confirmed again that I don't need to worry so much when I get injured. I think it's just part of the game. Bit thanks to my sponsor Mammut for making this trip possible.

13 februari 2014

Knee injury

It has been really quiet here the last couple of months. Normally at this time of year I spend most of my time training, but at the moment I am spending more time on the couch then on the wall. Exactly three weeks ago I injured my knee during the training. Yes, seriously, I manage to get injured again...
The first week was pretty terrible. I couldn't walk, drive or cycle, so I had no choice but to stay at my parents (which took great care of me by the way, thanks mom!). The second week I was able to walk a bit, so I could return to my own place. Fortunately I am living basically in the climbing gym, so that gave me the opportunity to at least do some exercises.

At the moment I am walking again without support, I am climbing with one leg and I use the extra time to strengthen the muscles in my back, which was still on the 'to do list'. I hope I will be able to turn this injury into something useful this way. It's pretty hard to stay motivated for all the exercises with the little climbing I am able to do, but it's better then doing nothing. 

In the meanwhile the muscles in my leg shrank about 30%. Luckily muscle mass in your legs is not useful at all for climbing, so I don't care ;) Every day I am making progression. This week I was able to cycle on an ergo meter for the first time and today I managed to walk down the stairs with one foot on every step! If it keeps progressing this fast I will be able to get both feet in the wall again pretty soon I guess. I can't wait!