22 november 2014

Dutch Champion in Lead

Yoohoo, I defended my national title in lead succesfully! I have to admit that it's a big relieve. With the international season already ended, all my friends celebrating a well deserved rest, so late in the year, I had a hard time to stay focussed. It feels like I am getting more and more nervous for this competition every year. 'What if I just slip off? That has never happened before, but it has to happen once, right?' Thoughts like that have been chasing me all week long.

Luckily nothing like that happened. Jorg had set a super cool route, which I really enjoyed climbing (once I was higer up and the biggest nerves were gone ;) ). I managed to top out. Super satisfied with my performance I could finally relax, enjoy the ambiance and watch the men in their super spectacular route. It was an amazing competition. Congrats to the organizers!

Now it's time to go to Spain for at least 1,5 month. 1,5 month of sun, nature, outdoor climbing, relaxing, beautiful routes, nice people. So excited!!! I will keep you updated once in a while when I find a wifi spot ;)
Article in the NRC yesterday

16 november 2014

Worldcup Kranj - 12th!

The Worldcup in Kranj is finished, so the Worldcup season is over. The week in Terradets really paid off. I felt much more motivated and energetic then the last couple of years in Kranj. In qualifications I was able to give a good fight. Although things didn't go perfectly, I just held on and kept on trying, refusing to let go. It's always hard to find this state of mind in a competition, but I guess I found it in Terradets last week already.

After qualifications we had only a couple of hours to eat and prepare for the semi-finals, which were held the same night. The semi-final route was pretty amazing. It crossed two walls, had many sections which were hard to read and the moves were really 'tricked'. During climbing I had to change the plan I made during observation many times, but the solutions came naturally and I was really enjoying the moves. In the end I had some struggle with my quickdraw, not being able to hold on long enough to clip. I guess I just have to get a bit stronger on that point. I was able to give a good fight though. I am really satisfied about my climbing and ended in 12th position. So close to finals again! It's a good end to a long season, which began pretty hard but got better and better towards the end.

Next weekend I will compete in the last competition of this year: the National Championships in Amsterdam. After that it's time to climb outdoors for a long, long time. I can't wait!  

14 november 2014

Terradets

Right after the semi finals for the Dutch Lead Championships (which went well btw, I topped the route and placed for the nationals, which will be held the 22nd of November) I booked a flight to Spain. After all the competition I needed a little break to charge for the last Worldcup. The last couple of years I have always been too exhausted to perform in Kranj. So I thought, what if I do some rock climbing just before the competition? Maybe I would be a bit more rested and most importantly, super motivated.

 So that's what I did. I've spend last week climbing in Terradets, a beautiful crag in Catalunya. The 35m wall is covered in tufa's and almost all the routes are super sustained and graded between 7c and 8a+: THE perfect onsight training! I spend the whole week onsighting and finishing missed onsights in my second go. After a couple of days I really found the 'onsight-mode' and I was able to send some nice routes:
- 2 7c's and 4 7c+'s onsight or flash
- 8a onsight (Effecto 2000)
- 3 other 8a's and an 8a+ second go

After this trip I feel really inspired and energized. Some sun, long nights sleep and a bunch of beautiful routes were exactly what I needed to get rid of the jetlag. Right now I am preparing for the final Worldcup of the season, which will start in Kranj, Slovenia tomorrow. I am really looking forward!

30 oktober 2014

Asia trip Part 3: Worldcup Inzai

The Asia trip is over. After 3 weeks of travelling I am back home again. It was an amazing experience: so many new impressions, different cultures, nice people and good climbing. Although I had a really nice time in Japan, I also started to feel the consequences of all the travelling. Flying and changing hotels all the time was taking its costs. I felt more tired every day and I couldn’t catch up with sleeping. I decided to not pay too much attention to it and just enjoy being in Japan: training in the super cool climbing gyms and visit some touristic sights. I hoped this would give me some new energy.


At the competition in Inzai I realized I was just too tired to perform well in another competition. I climbed good mentally, but physically I felt empty. I couldn’t get pumped anymore and fell early in the route, placing 19th. All together it was an amazing trip with some good results,  great experiences and many nice memories I will never forget. Thanks to the Belgium team for adopting me for a week ;)

This weekend I will compete in the semi finals for the Dutch Championships. Right afterwards I will fly to Spain to get some sun and recover for the final Worldcup in Kranj.
Worldcup Mokpo (Picture by Heiko Wilhelm)
 

22 oktober 2014

Asia trip Part 2: Worldcup Wujiang

Some days have passed already since the second Worldcup of the Asia tour; the Worldcup in Wujiang. All the new impressions in Japan kept me from blogging, so let's get back to China. First of all I have to admit that the accommodation improved a lot since last year. The food was simply amazing (last year I had a hard time eating anything at all), which made our stay much more pleasant.

After one day of recovering it was time for qualifications. I already got pretty bored from doing nothing for a day, so I was super motivated to climb. I am so happy that I was able to find this feeling again after the beginning of the season! Qualifications were ok, but I climbed a little but too fast. I didn’t take enough time to rest, especially in the first route, but the mind was ok. I placed 9th and 10th in both routes.

After a good night rest it was time for semifinals. During observation I got even more motivated. The route looked great: many volumes and big holds, combined with some really small edges. When I started climbing I felt super relaxed. I think I haven't been able to climb like this in semifinals this season before. I found a good resting position in the middle and recovered completely. When I climbed on I made a mistake: I grabbed the wrong part of a hold with my left hand and made a heelhook on the previous hold to clip. Then I discovered that my right hand had to be where my left was. I couldn't climb back, because the previous hold was too small for both a hand and a heelhook. I jumped for the next and fell, completely fresh.

I was pretty disappointed about my performance and walked back to the hotel straight away, without seeing the others climb. When I got back some hours later, I heard that many others had made the same mistake and that I placed 11th anyway. I was really surprised, that's not too bad! But still, I had the fitness to climb finals that day. Anyway, I just made a stupid mistake, but the mind was perfect and that is the important thing for now. Up to the next Worldcup in Inzai!

14 oktober 2014

Asia trip Part 1: Worldcup Mokpo

3 competitions, 3 weeks in Asia. The big trip has started. Last weekend the first competition took place in Mokpo. I felt relaxed and super motivated. Climbing is such a mental game. By being in this state of mind, I made the competition pretty easy for myself (completely different compared to the beginning of the season). In semi-finals I was on the edge of falling a couple of times, but I could stay focussed, I kept on resting and I was able to push myself until I was totally pumped. I was really satisfied with my performance and it turned out to be enough for the 12th place. I guess I am getting back on track ;)
Worldcup Mokpo (Pictures by Ulf Lennertz)
This week we are staying in Seoul; do some sightseeing and some training. On Thursday we will fly to Wujiang for the next Worldcup. So stay tuned ;)
Sightseeing in Korea

17 september 2014

World Championships - 19th

The motivation is back! In Gijon I got super psyched when I saw the video demonstration of my first qualification. Earlier this season I kind of lost this feeling. I was just competing because I used to, not because that was something I really wanted. It's amazing how much some weeks of rock climbing can change. Just being outdoors all the time, enjoying the sun and the fresh air, the beautiful views, the amazing lines and the inspiring moves. It helped me to enjoy again, not only at that moment, but also back home, training. I made more effort to organize my trainings: meeting with motivating people, climb in different places and think of new, challenging training methods. This gave me a lot of energy. I expected the World Championships to come too early, but when it was time to leave, I felt much stronger already.
Competition wall
The Worlds were amazing. Like I said, the qualification were well set. It was much fun to climb them. With a 12th and 16th place I made it to the semi finals. The semies were a bit disappointing. The route didn't look that great and I lost the super energetic, psyched mood I had in qualifications. Anyway, there was no way of finding it back, so I just had to deal with it. Luckily that worked out pretty well. My climbing was fine. I could relax, look, feel and choose the right solutions. Unfortunately I didn't manage to make the super hard move in the middle of the route (where more than ten people fell), although I wasn't too pumped. Falling at the same place as so many others set me in 19th position after countback. I can be really satisfied with my climbing though, which is most important for now.
The coast of Gijon
The World Championships are always something special. Everyone is there. I really enjoyed the time after the competition, having fun with friends I already competed with since our first years in the youth. Also watching the finals was very inspiring. This competition made me notice what an amazing live I am living. I get the opportunity to travel to all these amazing places, to meet inspiring people who became really close friends and to be excited about something all the time. It's never boring and I always have a cool trip to look forward to. Next up is the Asia tour, where I will visit Korea, China and Japan to compete in the next Worldcups. But first some more training, yeah!

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)

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!