20 augustus 2014

Outdoor climbing in Val Durance

When we were planning this years summer vacation I had the idea that I was running out of good summer areas. Everything seemed to be too hot, too  crowded or I had already been there too often. After some research we decided to see what Val Durance had to offer. This turned out to be a really good decision. I am pretty sure I won't get bored of this place for the next few years!

First of all, being surrounded by high mountains, the view in this valley is simply amazing. Within one hour drive from the campsite there were too many areas to visit, all with different types of rocks, climbing style and grades. We climbed in three different areas, Ailefroide, Pelvoux and Tournoux. Ailefroide and Pelvoux were granite crags, something I am not used to at all. So the granite gave me a hard time even in the easy routes, but it was very interesting and a lot of fun. Tournoux on the contrary is a limestone area with long endurance routes which fit my style pretty well. After being sick for a couple of days I started slowly with some 8a's and 8a+'s (Cost of Freedom 8a and Loups Hurlant 8a+). When I started feeling better I decided to work the moves in Intime étrangère, an 8b+ which was said to be hard for the grade. The moves felt not too hard, but the route was super sustained without any possibilities to rest for 30 moves.

When I returned after a restday I touched the final jug in my best attempt. The next day I was able to send it! Another send of a super beautiful line this trip. That day I managed to climb Beauté de chine, 8a+ in my second go as well. A perfect end of a really nice trip. We filmed some of the routes we climbed . Watch and enjoy!


2 augustus 2014

Worldcup Imst

The Worldcup in Imst, what can I say… The first qualification went pretty well. There were some tricky, hard moves in the beginning but I was able to rest after every hard move and stay calm. I really enjoyed the climbing and got passed the move where most people fell. Although I wasn't really pumped when I came off, I was pretty satisfied with my climbing. 

My performance in the second route was terrible. I started all right and I still don't really know what went wrong. I missed the next hold in a tricky move in the beginning of the route, which set me almost in last position. With the good result from the first route there was still a small chance I would make it to the semi's, but unfortunately I came short two places and ended 28th.

It's been a long time since I have messed up a competition so badly. Off course, everyone makes mistakes sometimes and things like this just happen once in a while, but that doesn't make me feel any better. Yesterday we had a really good, long training session in the indoor gym here in Imst. That finally cheered me up a bit again. Just climb, have fun, getting really pumped and tired, enjoy the moves and the routes, things I haven't done enough this year. Maybe this is a good wake up call to start doing things I like in climbing again ;) The next two weeks that won't be a problem. Tomorrow I will drive to France for two weeks vacation. I can't wait to climb some rocks and set my mind off competitions for a while! 
In the first qualification (picture by Heiner Schmidl)

24 juli 2014

Briancon

After the Worldcup in Chamonix we spend the week in the Briancon valley, climbing outdoors. This week was perfect. We visited three very different areas.
- Le Randouillet:              On the first day, when we didn’t have a car jet, we climbed in a small limestone crag just above Briancon. This first day after the Worldcup I took my time to recover and just climbed some 7 degree routes, enjoyed the sun and read a book.
- Rue de Masques:         The second day we picked up our rental car and drove to Rue de Masques, a conglomerate area with an 8b (Racing in the streets) I wanted to try, I managed to send this realy cool piece of rock second go!
Racing in the streets, 8b (picture by Rogier van Rijn)
Punishman Park 7c (picture by Rogier van Rijn)

- Face bouc:       The last day Rogier van Rijn took us to a relatively new area in Ailefroide. This place was amazing. A big overhanging granite wall with many 8 degree routes and a beautiful view. Since I had never climbed on granite before I needed some time to get used to the style and just climbed a 7c. We spend the day mainly taking pictures for Mammut, because without them all this wouldn't be possible.

Sector Face bouc (picture by Rogier van Rijn)
This week of relaxing was exactly what I needed and I felt much better when the Worldcup in Briancon started. In my first qualification route I climbed good and placed 11th. In the second route I felt terrible. The moves were tricky and the conditions were far from perfect. I could give a good fight anyway and placed 17th for semifinals.

In the semifinals I climbed really tensed in the tricky beginning, but unlike in Chamonix and China I managed to take some rest and get it all together again. I am satisfied that I could make this switch and finally get pumped in semifinals, but the result was still a bit disappointing. I gave away too much in the beginning and ended up in 20th position. 
Semi-finals in Briancon

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)