22 mei 2016

Zillertal and Lead 1

After a long period of mainly bouldering and adjusting my shoulders, I could finally start doing some lead again. In the first training sessions, the endurance was totally gone. I was exhausted already after the third draw. I guess I know now how a boulderer climbing lead must feel. Luckily, my endurance improved quickly. It's not as good as it was yet, but now that I could climb routes again, I was super motivated to go outdoors. So we got into the car and headed to Zillertal.

I had never been to this area before, but it really surprised me! Zillertal was perfect for my current endurance, because the routes are really bouldery. Even though I didn't have that many expectations, I still managed to climb an 8b, Sagaro, and a few more 8's. But more importantly, the routes we did were really beautiful! Adjusting to the granite was pretty hard, since I am so used to climbing on limestone. The rock forced me to move and think in a different way. However, this was really refreshing and inspiring. We found some perfect lines, like huge prows and overhanging arĂȘtes, situated in an amazing alpine valley. All together, it was a really good trip and I will definitely come back here soon!
Electric Avenue, 8a
When I arrived home, I had some days to adjust to the plastic again before the first National Lead competition. The thought of competing made me pretty nervous, since I was not really confident about my fitness yet. But the competition turned out great. I had a lot of fun climbing the routes, since the setting was pretty tough. In finals I had to give a good fight and ended up two moves before the top, completely pumped! It was more than enough for the first place. Now it's time to get back to training. There is still a lot of work to be done.

15 maart 2016

Back to climbing!

It has been really quiet here the last couple of months, which is a good reflection of my climbing. I have been struggling with a lot of injuries during the past years. By the end of last season I was totally exhausted and all my motivation was gone. Me not being motivated for climbing is a really bad sign. Things had to change. The physiotherapists have been suggesting for a long time already that I have to adjust my posture in order to prevent future injuries and possibly make the next step in my climbing. Due to climbing and genetics my shoulders grew in a wrong position (way too much forward), which caused me many back problems and in the end also an always present pain in my elbows and fingers.

Luckily, I could do something about it, but it would set me back in climbing at first. To begin with, I was not allowed to climb for 6 weeks, during which I had to do a lot of stretching and exercises to learn how to position my shoulder the right way. Since I started climbing 15 years ago, I have never lived without climbing for such a long period. It made me realize that climbing became an important part of my identity. Therefore, those six weeks were not easy for me at all, but definitely learned me some big lessons. When I was finally allowed to climb again, I had to relearn how to climb, but this time with my shoulders in the right position. Learning new things is pretty amazing and I had not experienced this for a long time in climbing. It completely changed my perspective on the sport, which is really refreshing. Every training I can see the progress. I definitely found my motivation back. Climbing makes me feel super happy again and I do really appreciate being able to train at the moment.
No climbing, but trying to position my shoulders the right way
Last week the moment I have been waiting for finally arrived: my shoulders were good enough to go outdoors again. We spend 3 days in Fontainebleau. Such a relieve, being in nature again, looking for the beautiful lines. And the good lines we found. We only climbed things that felt really beautiful to me. Beautiful arretes, prows and other typical problems which can only be found in Fontainebleau. I was even able to finish Welcome to Tijuana, 7C (not typical Bleau-ish, but a really nice project anyway)! Although I am not back in shape, it's definitely heading the right way, much faster than I had expected.

29 november 2015

Dutch champion in Lead - my 10th national title

Yesterday I managed to successfully defend my national title in Lead again. As many of you might know, this competition is always pretty hard for me. The pressure is high and every year I get more and more afraid that I might make a mistake one day. Luckily, that day wasn't yesterday.

The past two weeks were terrible. I just needed the season to be over. After being sick and weak for many months I just couldn't push myself anymore. I was done with training or caring about my food. I decided to just give myself some slack and see what happened. You don't lose the fitness you have been training for the whole year in just one week.
Finals (picture by Sytse van Slooten)
That turned out to be a good decision. When the day of the competition arrived, I didn't feel sick anymore. I was still a bit tired, but I could move normally. The final route was simple and suited my style pretty good. I managed to top out without getting pumped or really having to try hard in any move. In the end, it turned out that the number two had topped the route as well. I was relieved that the competition was over, but again, the pure happiness I experiences the first times I won the title was not there. Partly because I didn't have to fight or work hard to get to the first place. Hopefully the routes will get a bit harder in the future. That won't change anything about how I feel before the nationals, but it might make winning a bit more satisfying ;)

For now it's finally time for vacation! In less than an hour I will take the plane to Turkey. Time to soak up some sun, relax and climb some rocks!

18 november 2015

Worldcup Kranj - 19th

Last weekend, the final Worldcup of the season was being held in Kranj. Unfortunately, I got sick the week before the competition. I hoped to be recovered in time, but when I woke up the first day of the competition I still felt pretty bad. Luckily our qualifiers started in the afternoon, which gave me some time to get myself together. 

Considering the circumstances, qualifications were not that bad. I could still move normally, but I got pumped way earlier than normal. However, I managed to give a good fight and qualified for semi finals. During semi finals I had nothing to lose. I gave all I had at that moment and ended in 19th position.

The Worldcup season is over now. Since I got injured last summer I have been really tired and sick on and off. It feels like it's time to take some rest and get fit and healthy again. In 1,5 week I will defend my title in the National Championship in Lead and after that it's time to relax!

26 oktober 2015

Autumn in Rodellar

This year, I decided not to compete in the Asian part of the Worldcup season. Since it was only one competition it was not worth the energy of travelling all the way to China and back, getting jetlagged and all. So, for the first time in years, I was free to go outdoors in October! October is supposed to be one of the best months for climbing outdoors, which made me decide to plan one more trip to Rodellar.

I had already been in Rodellar for two weeks this spring. Although I had climbed a lot of routes during those two weeks, the wishlist grew and I had to come back for many other hard routes. In spring I had been doing lots of onsights, so this time the focus was on projecting. I ended up ticking quite some routes of the wishlist (which grew again…), some of the best I did:

      - Botanics, 8b+ (6 tries, amazing athletical route, went down really smoothly when I finally figured out the right beta)
      - Ixeia, 8b+ (Had been wet most of the time, but on the last day it dried up. I decided to just give it a try. With botanics already in the pocket I had nothing to lose. And wow, it went down in my 3rd try! I am still a bit surprised ;) 
      - Gladiator, 8a+/b (A 40m physical monster. It spit me out twice, because my biceps were not strong enough to make the next move. I think they grew a little during the last try, which made me send it one my 3rd go. Feels more like 8b to me)
      - La kanabica, 8b (Second go on one of the last days. Amazing line, crossing many tufa's and ending up with a technical crux on the straight wall. Super nice!)
      - Kings of metal, 8a+ (Recommended by Frank, who has been talking about this one for months. It was a bit wet, but after all those stories I just couldn't walk past it without trying. You were right Frank, it is an amazing line)
La Kanabica, 8b (Picture by Michel)
All together it was a really good trip. It remembered me how much I love being in nature, how motivating projecting can be and how perfect the simple life is when climbing outdoors. I want to go back! But no, for now it's back to plastic. I will be training for three more weeks for the last Worldcup of the season. It's time to find the motivation on plastic again.

29 september 2015

Worldcup Puurs - 14th

Because the recovery from my back injury took much longer than expected, I had already accepted that I wouldn't be back in shape in time for the Worldcup in Puurs. However, since Puurs is so close and it's no effort at all to go there, I decided to just give it a try. The last days before the comp, I took some extra rest and I finally started to perform better in the training. Maybe the competition was not totally lost yet.

So I went to Puurs without any expectations. I knew I didn't have that extra bit of power and endurance I had before my injury, but it wasn't too bad either. Since I had nothing to lose, I climbed without any pressure during qualifications and managed to give all I had, and placed 13th.
Qualifications (picture by Sytse van Slooten)
The next day semi finals were being held. When I got the first glimpse of the route I got super excited. It looked so cool! I was a bit afraid of the slabby beginning, but when I rehearsed the route in isolation together with Anak, we came up with many good solutions for every problem and I started to feel confident. Indeed, the beginning wasn't problematic at all. The moves felt easy and I executed them smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, the route got really hard. I could just hold on to the small edges, but my hands felt empty and started to open. I managed to make the first hard moves, but soon it was over.  I hadn't been able to fight at all and I expected myself to end up at the very bottom of the field. However, it turned out the others had been struggling even more with the small edges and my performance wasn't that bad after all. I ended up in 14th position, which I should be satisfied with for the moment. Not bad after such a bad preparation!

The next Worldcup I compete in is being held in Kranj at the 15th of November. That means there is a lot of time to go outdoors! I will spend two weeks in Rodellar in October. Can't wait!
Semi-finals (picture by Systse van Slooten)

18 augustus 2015

Silvretta, Imst and the Verdon

Three weeks ago we left rainy Holland and headed to Austria. This time we did not only bring a rope and quickdraws, but a crashpad was stowed in the van as well. Plan for the trip: first stop, Silvretta, then head to Imst for the next Worldcup and finally drive to the Verdon to discover some of the new sportclimbing area's recently published in the 'Grimper'.

Bouldering in Silvretta

Me bouldering outdoors is definitely an exception, but lately I felt more and more attracted to it so I decided to give it a shot. And indeed, it turned out to be really motivating! First of all, Silvretta is simply a beautiful place. High in the Alps we woke up the first morning, surrounded by cows and with a really impressive view. When we went bouldering, I felt like a little child, running around between the boulders, trying everything that looked good, no matter what the grate was. Since my personal best was still 7B outdoors, it was pretty easy to push my limits. Sometimes it's nice to make some easy progression ;) In 2,5 days of bouldering I managed to send my first and my second 7C with 2nd Skin and Atomblitz. I would have loved to spend some more days here, but we had to go to Imst to be in time for the competition.

The Worldcup in Imst was, what shall I say, a special experience. I really surprised myself in qualifications by placing 5th in the first route and 10th in the second, just missing the final hold. Woow, I was super excited about my performance, but I had to stay focused for semi-finals which were held the same evening. The route looked cool and I was keen to climb it. Unfortunately, I misread a move in the beginning of the route and fell way too early. Argh! It's so frustrating to mess up like that after such a good qualification round.

The next day we decided not to stay and watch the finals, but to drive to France immediately. The disappointment of the previous day disappeared the more we drove south. With the Gorges in sight, the competition was quickly forgotten. What a beautiful place! Massive walls where ever you look. The approaches were often scary, traversing at the top of the Gorges with hundreds of meters of air underneath, but they led to the most astonishing climbing areas. All kinds of styles, from huge overhanging walls covered in tufas, to blank straight walls with tiny holds. All the sectors we visited had some things in common: 1. The routes were still very new and hard to read, since there were no chalk marks to follow, 2. The rock quality was super high, 3. The routes were super long and demanding and 4. The grading was HARD. So we got or asses kicked, but it was definitely worth it! In the end I managed to climb 1 8a flash  (Fly on the tox, Bauchet), 1 8a onsight (Babobabo, Courchon) and 1 8b (Plus tonique, Courchon).

A perfect dinner spot in the Verdon

Before the end of the trip arrived, I got some serious trouble with by back. The pain got worse every day. At one point, I could not find a way to release the pain anymore and I could not deal with it either. We decided to go home early, but first went to see a doctor, who subscribed me a massive load of painkillers. Those suppressed the pain enough to make the journey home bearable (and made me kind of funny ;). I was actually planning to compete in the next Worldcup in Stavanger upcoming weekend, but at the moment it’s uncertain if I will be able to start. First wait for the results of some physiotherapy treatments.