Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Short message:

went to Berdorf (Luxemburg) and climbed hardly anything.
Insecure bla bla bla.
I'd been there as a child, walking around the beautiful sandstone and yes it was still beautiful!
Only negative thing: it was so busy that you had to wait for basically every route. Even the 8b's (+) were occupied!
Let's go again on a normal weekday instead.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


As I said before, I'd travel again.
All the way to Grenoble.

The weather forecast wasn't too good. Rainy, not really warm. But it was a long weekend (Ascension in French, Hemelvaart in Dutch), so no reason to stay indoors (read: inside the van).

We decided get stay close to Grenoble and drove to Presles. (Pronounced as 'praill')

Theres so much to there. Multipitch, trad, aid, sports... And thats what we did: all of it, or at least, Dennis did all of it, I couldn't be bothered to get up on an AID route. 

The weather turned out to be surprisingly friendly with just a bit of rain during the night and on Sunday midday.

On the first day we did a trad multipitch. But it seems the French are changing all trad into bolted routes (why?) because almost all we climbed was sort-of bolted.
Saturday we climbed Fhara Kiri (A0/6c+ max.) was listed as trad too, but was entirely bolted.

Not that it mattered, we had fun anyway. My favourite pitch was a 6b, just after the crux length. It started as technical slab/vertical traverse and ended in reachy moves on a overhanging wall. I love that combination!

On Sunday the rain came in. But it was allright. We were tired of all the climbing and figured 4 days was not enough for this area. We went to the small sports crack "Balme √Čtrange" and realised even more that this area is a place you can spent your whole life.
The routes were beautiful! 6c on a long colonette (Masse moi la colonne) , 6b+ in a cool overhang (Dernier effort)  and then the rest...7c+ in a small roof and ending on a beautiful vertical wall (Le gosier)...and LOADS more.

For the coming weeks I won't have the time to travel to France (too much work to do at home) but yesterday evening I figured theres enough fun around here.
Some friends form 'De Berg' (we call our local climbing gym 'the mountain') decided to have a barbecue at the 'pond' (muddy lake) next to the gym. Thanks for the fun dudes!
The good thing of De Berg is that it's an indoor and outdoor gym. So good for the Sunny Summer days!
I'll go again today, and tomorrow, and... just every day.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Best climbing video of the Year!

No wonder it took Petzl some time to edit all the China-images.
They created a master-piece!
This video is the full version on what you've seen before about the Petzl Roc Trip 2011.
Getu Vally, China was the location.
Amazing culture, awesome climbing!
Most climbing video's show pro-climbers pulling on holds for 15 minutes and don't snow anything (or hardly anything) of the environment. This video shows what climbing is all about: hard moves, nice atmosphere and beautiful surroundings in perfect editing. The music, the images, it just all comes together.

↵ Use original player
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I was wondering last weekend, what company would ever want to organise such an event when they have so much rock around them at home?
I figured Petzl really does this all for the climbers. Just for us. For you. And with that in my mind I found the whole Petzl Roc Trip concept the best there is!

Respect the Mountains

Awesome! (It's my new word for today)

Ambassador of Respect the Mountains.

Last Monday I was invited at Respect the Mountains (RTM) headquarters in Amsterdam.
And now I'm suddenly ambassador together with other awesome mountain athletes like Xavier de la Rue and Bas Elhorst.

Not that I'm now going to force you to eat macro-biotic food, live of the rythm of the moon, only wear vegan clothing and never ever use your car again.
That's not the idea of the organisation. It would be far too idealistic to get that done. And then I wouldn't be an ambassador either. I'm not a vegan, I have a car and I prefer the sun to the moon :)

RTM rather wants you to enjoy the mountains. Please, enjoy and love those massive rocks as much as you can!
Only just make sure others can enjoy the mountains as well, also in the future.
With simple things like taking the cigarette ends with you, carpooling when possible, eat local food if available and be kind to the locals they represent themselves.
They'd put this together in a scheme called 'the 7 ways'.

Other practical and fun things they do are for example the Envirotrek. It basically means you clean a mountain track for half a day and for the rest of the day you're invited to take part in MTB clinics, kayaking, rock climbing or other fun stuff. In the evening you all get a big, big BBQ and suddenly you did two things in one: having mountain fun & being respectful in the mountains.

RTM also sells small things that can help you 'respect the mountains'. Environmental friendly wax products but also tiny rubbishbins for cigarette ends.

For more information, sponsoring the organisation, or to join an Envrio-track go the the RTM Website here: www.respectthemountains.com/

Monday, May 14, 2012

Competition weekend

Yay, third place on the national lead competition!

Okay that said, I can write about what I did this weekend :)

Last week Roeland van Oss succesfully passed his final guiding exams. Meaning he's now an official UIAGM mountain guide!
So if you want to get into the mountains and you're looking for a passionate, driven, enthusiastic, energetic and friendly mountainguide: mail Roeland!

Some days of work and a 'jetlag', I drove off to Namur (city in the South of Belgium)
Petzl sponsored the annual rope-access rescue event/competition that takes place on the Citadelle (castle) of Namur: Grimp-day
Petzl International filmed the whole event, so soon we can watch a proper movie about it.
And, one of the teams, Fire brigade Rotterdam had been trained by Ascent. Ascent is a Dutch company that provides specialised rope work/rescue training. I also work for Ascent.

Reason enough for me to take a close look at the rescue teams from all over Europe.

It was interesting to see how different countries have a different approach on the rope-access.
Some were 'caving orientated' others more 'alpine orientated' and there were also more 'industrial orientated' groups.

It was good to see how proper the Germans and Swiss were with their techniques. All ropes properly sorted, all team members with their known positions, and proper handling with the ascender/descender devices.

That compared to a French team which still used a figure-of-eight and prusik to descent...
Most Germanic-speaking countries were more industrial orientated (Dutch, Swiss, German, British) compared to the Latin countries that were more caving orientated and the Eastern Europeans that were more Alpine orientated. Interesting...
Though, Werner said the skills have been improved in the years. A couple years ago he wouldn't want to get rescued by any of the teams and now he'd consider calling a rescue team in emergencies.

This Sunday I had my own competition.
In my hometown Bergschenhoek.

Climbing gym Monte Cervino hosted the national lead-climbing competition. The third (out of 3) competition of the season, resulting in a National Championships.
I'd been competing on this series before. Last year I joined all comps, but I decided that outdoor climbing was much better.

The 2011 competition was not too much fun. Horrible climbing gyms who still owe me a price I won last year (Dear Mountain Network Nieuwegein, am I ever going to get the shoes I won over a year ago?) and some judges that act like little dictators.

But this competition was different. Same judges but awesome routesetters (Jeroen, Dimitri, Arvid), my favourite belayers (Arvid, Rens and Tineke) and good supporters (Michel, Rutger, Bos and the whole Monte Cervino crew).

I'm always incredibly nervous on competitions. Resulting in being totally disorientated in routes, soggy-sweatty hands, squeezing holds like my life is depending on it, and a mind that keeps on talking to me whilst I'm busy climbing.

It was all the same this time. Nervous, insecure...
I was not the only one. Tineke was one of the climbers to show the qualifications of the womens (qualifications are flash, finals are onsight). I saw her face before she stepped into the route and I know how she felt... Really nervous...
So proud of her! She managed to climb the route, did it all just perfect!

I had to climb that route as well (of course) and with my nerves I was totally disorientated, but managed to top it.
The yellow, second qualification route was harder (I knew that) meaning it would be harder to top the thing. But also harder to keep my mind focused.
I got so extremely pumped! I had to rest on every move, had to regain my focus again and again... I fell just after the big sloper... I was down on the ground again before I knew it. Almost tears in my eyes because I was so insecure.
So disappointed!
Apparently it was good enough to reach the finals. So I should have been happy. But my mind was telling me I should have done better.

So I had the finals.

Arvid belayed me. I really trust him and he's very motivating as a climbing partner. 
That helped quite a bit. 
Nevertheless I was still really nervous. Sweat was dripping off my hands. I had to chalk on every move and then I made a mistake. 
One I make more often: stepping too high to reach a hold. Resulting in lack of body-tension and so I missed the hold...Although I felt the hold was just good...
Geatan, a French friend described it: "It's like when you work a very hard route, you know that you can send it but it is so hard that you also know that you can fall at the crux. Everything is in your mind."
And that's what it is. The whole route is in your mind. Just your mind. Or at least, that's how it seems to work in my mind...
Apparently the other girls didn't get that far. They didn't even get close! And that whilst they're members of the National Team...
So far I was first with just three climbers to go. 
One fell before me, so I was already third. 
Then Nikki had to climb. She did so good! 
After the comp she told me she just wanted to finish the route. No nerves, no pressure, just her and the route. And it worked, she topped! 
Then Tabitha had to climb, she clearly had more difficulties with the route then Nikki. But she got higher then me.
So, was was third. Nice!

The men did good as well. Tim Reuser just missed the top-hold in the finals. But that was more then good enough to become first. Tim is strong, really strong with just a few years (5 years?) of climbing experience he's doing really well. 

It's so motivating to reach something you can be proud of! It gives me energy for all the next steps. 
I know, I was not as good as Nikki, I was not first but still...happy to get this far now, with more training (motivation for training) and a better focus (less nerves) I could do even better I guess.
Something to work on.
Now back to the outdoors, back to France I guess :)

More pictures soon.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

"One Swallow doesn't make Spring"

...or at least thats what we say in Dutch. Hirondelles, Swallows, Zwaluwtjes were flying low this week to catch the flies in Chateauvert.

Showing our new Berghuas Dutch Iceclimbing Team downjackets

Last week I drove 925km South to Crolles, France. Again.
I'm addicted to someone who lives there in a small campervan.
The weatherforecast was bad, just rain, rain, wind and thunderstorms for the whole week. I managed to do some of the things I needed to do (climbing a viaferrata and making a presentation about safe viaferrata climbing) and then it was already weekend. A long weekend as the French celebrate/memorise the WWII on May 8. In the Netherlands we do that on May 4/5.

We decided to go to Chateauvert close to the Verdon in Southern France as it seemed the closest place with some good weather for the weekend.
Close to Crolles it even snowed that weekend!

We drove straight after Dennis finished work. As the van has it's 'habits' we suddenly ran out of petrol. Dennis went by bike to get some petrol. The closest station was closed but there was a very friendly French farmer that drove Dennis back to the van (meanwhile I was cooking Ratatouille) with his car and got us some Diesel. We wanted to pay the man, but he was just happy to help us out.
After we lost our Diesel to some m*&%$ckin' Bulgarians a couple weeks ago, this was a real surprise. Thanks mr. farmer!
We were quite late so decided to park the van. It became a place close to the river Buech.
It rained a lot that night. I was worried that the van would become part of the river, but we were just fine.

The van at the river Buech.

The next day we arrived in Chateauvert around midday after a exciting ride with huge hailstones that covered the road like a Winter-road in Chamonix. Just a moment later it was Sunny again when we enjoyed the Lavender-fields...

Hailstones from hell

Chateauvert is the area where I had my first outdoor climbing experiences 6 years ago. Together with Chérie (former international competition climbing judge and my climbing partner in Arnhem) and two other friends we climbed there for more then a week. I did my first 7a/7a+ Magicien d'Oz. And realised how much I love this sport/life.

On the first day I figured that my climbing style is still the same. Maybe I got stronger but when I did the moves I suddenly remembered "oh, yes, thats how I did it 6 years ago". Interesting how your mind and body memorises movements for such a long time.

Dennis climbing a 7a+ in one of the caves. (Can't remember the name)

Southern France is getting warmer and warmer, closer to the Summer and everywhere you see the nature changing into a beautiful play full of colours and sounds.

Dennis and I like to find special places to sleep in Dennis' VW Syncro campervan.
He Loves his Synco. He's together with some other 'crazy' dudes united on a Dutch forum about the VW T3 Syncro van. He checks the forum daily and when I'm around one of the main subjects is the van. Not because of the bad performances or 'issues' but all just about how to improve the van and get it into a perfect 4x4 vehicle. "Does your 4x4 have a kitchen" is the text on a sticker he found on an American Syncro forum, and yes, it's quite what it's all about: having an van that can bring you everywhere.
Everywhere around the world.

The T3 Syncro by night :)

After/during our trip to China last year we got ideas on how to perfect our China experience. When we'd have a campervan we could just go wherever we wanted to go. Not bound on other people, hotels, transport. Just us and the country around us.
The idea grew and now we have a plan: travel to China (Getu) with the VW T3 Syncro.
All the way from the Netherlands.
And if possible travel back as well. Through Russia.

This week we'd been collecting information about the possibilities.
Dennis and I got a book from Dennis' grandparents about a couple that traveled with an VW oldtimer to China. Dennis' grandparents knew already about our idea and with the book they tried to help us find the right direction I guess.
The two from the book are not exactly the same as we are I found. They're a bit like the average couple you'd find on a beach in Ibiza, not used to camping, not used to traveling with a campervan...
And a big difference; we want to add something to our trip: climbing!
We want to climb in all countries that we'll visit on our trip. All the way to Getu in China where we were last year.
We just calculated the time it will take us: at least 2 years...if we want to climb at least 3 days per week and travel the other days. (Anyone who knows a millionaire who wants to sponsor us...maybe...?)

So...still a lot to figure. 2015 will be the year. After Dennis has finished his studies.

Back to Chateauvert.
The climbing was quite hard we found and sometimes the distance between the bolts was just really long. Too long.
I had difficulties climbing a 7b+ and failed to onsight 7a's. Strange...
Though it was fun. The area is really friendly you can't imagine easier access to the cliffs. The guidebook says 2 seconds approach for some of the sectors and thats right: bumper belay.

Bumper belay

The most beautiful route is one of the first ones in the guidebook on the complete left-hand side of the cliff there's a 2 pitch 6b/6b+. I climbed both pitches in one. They're continuous without any real cruxes making it a beautiful chain of movements of meters and meters. Pure climbing!

The beautiful 6b.

Yesterday we drove back to Crolles. Dennis had to work again today and I have to work tomorrow.
I drove the 925km North today.
Feeling happy.
Like a millionaire.
Because I just did this week what I love most and it felt like I have everything I need:
house, boyfriend, sun, climbing...

Now just a bit of money-making to do this week and then I'll go again all the way to Southern France :)

Rubbish, like we're suddenly in India or something

The good old times

Voting in France, left or right?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Via ferrata - via fun?

I'm back in France after a couple weeks of full-full-full-time work (including all weekends...)

Happy to be free again and happy to be in the mountains again and even happier to see Dennis again.
Tough, Dennis is working every day so I have to figure how to have fun on my own.

As I've been giving Workshops about Viaferrata for the NKBV and I will be doing some presentations for Petzl about the subject I thought it would be good to get some practice.
So I went up the 'Cascade de L'Oule' in Crolles. An ED viaferrata which is supposed to be really, extremely difficult.
And yes I was surprised about the difficulty of the thing! Real overhanging climbing for meters and meters. Okay, it's not 7a, its definitely not 8a but as a guess I would say it's like a continuous 5b overhang.
The topo said it would take 3 hours to climb it and 1 hour to walk to the start. I made it in just over 2 hours in total and decided to do the D alternative as well. In the end I was wet of the waterfall spray, the rain and the sweat.
Never thought I'd get tired doing a viaferrata :)

Let's go again (on restdays)