Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Climbing is sooo 2014!

Fireworks over Jokulsarlon, Iceland

Last night Dennis and I were lying in bed and wondering... what do we want to do in 2014.

I've never planned a year as much as I just did for 2014. Big trips, visits and challenges. I've never wanted as much climbing as I want for 2014. And when I woke up this morning, the last day of 2013 we decided to work on all those big plans.

Let me start with the little ones. Motto: Let's play :)

- Build caves in our living-room and bedroom with blankets, the couch and other stuff. You're all invited.
- Play hide&seek with my parents and brother.
- Do cartwheels on the street every day at least once.
- Run, jump and laugh at least once a day.

I also have bigger plans.
First I need to join more snow stuff: skiing. And then I need to drytool more too.
I really hope to join and do well on the Worldcup Iceclimbing this January and February. In between I really want to climb M13 and do some awesome multipitch mixed stuff. In April I'll visit Malta and Thanks to Alpine Mentors I hope to go to Denali in June. Then it's Summer time and at the end of the Summer we're planning a trip to Africa. Maybe Namibia or maybe...? And then...time for even bigger things: India with the Alpine Mentor Programme! And then it's time for drytooling again :D

Hard thing about this programme is money. I truly wish I can finally focus more on training and less on working. We're desperately searching for better and very sustainable financing of all the climbing. Any, any suggestions are more then welcome!

With the idea of sustainability we made a very sad and awkward decision. We decided to end our sponsorship with Petzl. We don't have the feeling we're working on a durable cooperation and think we can't honestly represent the brand properly anymore.
We think it's sad. We've been struggling with this for quite a while now and today was our deadline for a solve of the issues. After a year of struggle with communication and lack of usable climbing gear there came no solve so, we quit...

Anyway. A lot of challenges. Challenges are good. They make you grow, discover and learn.
And that's what I want to wish you all for 2014: play, grow, discover and learn.

- Work hard with a smile -

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Starzlachklamm - drytooling

When most iceclimbers now climb at the Bozeman Icefest (we don't have the money to go there) we enjoy the snow, rocks and ice in Germany this weekend.

Living in Southern Germany gives advantages and disadvantages.
One of the great advantages are the magical climbing areas; of which one of them a dark cold wet, if luckcy frozen, cave with loose rock a.k.a. Starzlachklamm.

Last weekend our colleagues wanted to go there and we were really curious.
Our roommate didn't want to go at all as he just found it an ugly dark hole.
After a slippery icy walk in we figured he was right. And we loved it.

We started with an M8. Daniel Gebel, who bolted most of the routes "commanded" and forbid us to break any of the growing icicles. So it became rather tricky to climb around the fragile curtain instead of into the curtain. Fun!
I think we'd get fired at Edelrid if we'd touch that icicle. So, after some clear comments by Daniel in another route ("don't touch it!") Dennis managed to break off an icicle. Daniel watched it happen. He closed his eyes and shook his head. He mumbled something about "tourists" and "less salary"...

Daniel pointing out how to climb the route. Simon climbs.
Dennis yoga-ing around the curtain.
And then there was this new route Daniel bolted, an extension/direct start of an already existing route. If Dennis could please climb it first so he could flash the route he joked to us.
And so Dennis went up and unfortunately popped off a sketchy tricky hold on one third of the route.

Dennis clipping in one of the safer points of the M10, Daniel belaying.
The tricky route traversed the roof just above the ground. If you'd fall you almost hit the ground making the name rather fitting the route: Arsch bumpe (or something like that). Every clip in the roof was a 100% grounder.
My turn.
I used a different hold in the roof, not really knowing if it was any better then the thing Dennis had popped off. But it worked. Flash :)
We guess, but I have to say I'm not too good in this guessing game, that it's around M10.
Daniel himself was rather ill and the antibiotics gave him too much gravity force around him. The flash attempt unfortunately didn't work out for him.

Daniel figuring his way up the M10.
The next day we were convinced by Ritchi to join him at Chinesische Mauer (Chinese Wall) a beautiful sportsclimbing area in Austria not far from Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
Dennis isn't very fond of the vertical stuff and really didn't get it how we ended up here. Icicles and snow all around and we are sportsclimbing?!

Ritchi in his project. He took an extra day off this Friday to try it again. Maybe he did it...?
I didn't do a very good job either and felt rather challenged in the 7a's and 7b's that I climbed.
Maybe climbing and running every day and working long days for a whole week doesn't help much either. Guess we just needed a restday.

Next weekend. "Fully rested" after the annual Vaude Christmas party with our colleagues. We went to bed around 02:30 and promised to go climbing at Starzl again. Simon and Simon would pick us up around 11. It took us a while to drink enough coffee and eat enough Brezen before we finally headed for Starzl.
On the way in I read Will Gadd's blog-post to the others in the car. It's about modded tools, grading routes and the Olympics. A fantastic honest piece of writing about all the things that also have been in our heads the last weeks. The ridiculous grading of some routes (like the M12 I onsighted in Ouray, which I wasn't allowed to donwgrade), the 'tweaking Worldcup rules' by adding extra length to your iceaxes and the "so called" iceclimbing at the Sochi Olympics where some iceclimbing athletes are going. But also the feeling of recognition in the writing about the Gecko sisters and the failing&falling issue I also feel when I climb.
It's a must read for every mixed climber.

Rather broken, even after all the good coffee, we slowly hiked up to the dark hole again.
The ice had clearly grown and the curtain that we were forbidden to touch was twice the size now.
Meanwhile Simon (Herr Graf) promised himself the only thing he came for was drinking good coffee.
Still he managed to find himself swinging his way up the classic WI4 on the right side of the cave. More then he ever expected to do this day.

Herr Graf and his coffee
Meanwhile we climbed the M8 again without touching the curtain. "Dennis, your helmet almost hits the curtain now!" With his head turned in a awkward way sideways he yoga-ed his way further up.

Now the goal was to climb the big roof. Traverse from right to left through the whole cave. Michi Wohlleben bolted his M13 called "Pray for Power" in there. Crossing all the "easier" roof climbs (M11, M11+, M12...)
We looked, walked up and down, watched and discussed all possible ways and figured we'd need a local for figure how that thing would go. Suddenly the roof looked like a big mess of bolts and pitons without a proper line in between.
Defeated we decided to go up a line that we tried at the end of the day last week. "Pappi's kleine Liebling" an M11 yet again bolted by Daniel. He told us that once you find the right sequence it's not that hard anymore. He was right, we didn't find the right holds and thus didn't figure the right sequence back then.
One small hold at the start. You step on a bunch of balancy stones to reach the thing, then hang yourself in a figure of four and reach for the next thing. And then you hang yourself a big bunch of figure of fours and figure of nines to reach the end of the roof.
Right there, if you don't have the right hold your axe with you hand still fixed on it will get stuck, squeezing off your fingers causing rather bruised knuckles. So I failed. I had to kick the axe out with my feet to get it back again...
The clipping is as tricky as in the M10: fail and you'll hit the ground.
I wasn't that scared actually.
But Dennis was.
He held the rope so tight that I had the feeling I was pulling it out of the grigri myself when climbing. At one point the rope was kind of stuck in the grigri. Hanging in a figure of four, having cold hands and having to pull the rope out of the grigri without falling off didn't really help me. Fail. Again.
Meanwhile Dennis did climb the thing. Making gorilla-tennis-player sounds on his way up the route. A good mixture of scare and power. "Clipping, no not clipping, you got me, got me, watch me now, ergh, clipping, okay, okay, urrrrgh, uhhh".

Dennis at the end of the negative roof in the M11.
Meanwhile it was dark and snowing. I really was frustrated. I wasn't even too pumped, could do all the moves static and none of the moves felt really hard. Okay, let's just take the headlamps out and give it one more go. Now rather give me a grounder instead of a tight rope, now I know that I should skip the nuckle-duster hold and then it should just be fine.
And it was. Completely silent, the two Simons were surprised of my silent climbing, I figured-of-foured my way easily through the moves. The long, long move after the roof bit was just a nice static lock-off and I didn't use the tree that was silently calling "kick me, swing your axe in me". Top. What a hassle.  Tum, di, dum, dum, dum. Suddenly the song "Clint Eastwood" from Gorrilaz popped up in my head after watching the pictures of my own shade on the wall in the dark. Reminding me of the videoclip of the music. The song stayed.

Tricky clipping in the darkness. Picture by Simon Graf.

Awkward shadows in the dark hole. Picture by Simon Graf.
Now one question remains: how do we need to climb this M13 roof thing? Because I need a real project now :)

Read Dennis' view on this Saturday here: dennisvanhoek.nl

Friday, December 13, 2013

Because who is perfect?

A couple years ago I wasn't a freelancer yet.
I found it really hard to find a job in between all the climbing that I wanted to do and all I studied seemed useless.
So I started for a employment agency.

Once I got a call and they asked me if I was strong enough to sand mannequin dolls every day to get them ready for paint jobs.
It turned out to be one of the biggest mannequin factories of the world. And the thing I was doing was just manual labour in a dark small and super dirty dusty 'hutch'.
The attitude within the company was horrible. I was treated like a 'no-one' as I had one of the lowest jobs within the company. The one giving me the demands within the company was horrible. Arrogant.
I worked hard and breathe the unhealthy epoxy dust every day.
I was quite overwhelmed by the artificial perfection of the mannequin dolls. And wondered if this is what they want to have us see as perfect bodies.
I decided to make a couple pictures and write a post about my new job. Asked for permission before I posted the writing and pictures on my blog and the arrogant guy gave permission. I wrote about that it was hard work, but I'd get the job done.
A couple days later I got a ridiculous phonecall, they'd sue me, they'd blackmail me, they'd make sure I'd never get a job again, anywhere. And removing the post on my blog wouldn't be enough.
As you understand, this was the last day I'd worked there. I did remove the post though.

Through Facebook I just found this little documentary about mannequin dolls and the real human body.
It's a beautiful contrast to how I'd seen the mannequin dolls in that factory in the Netherlands.
Next time you watch a magazine or look at the mannequins in the windows, just remind yourself that those dolls are pure imperfection.
This is perfection:

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Ze Zermans

I've been in Germany for a week now. 
And so much can happen in one week time.

View from our new home in Kleinweiler

We arrived last Monday evening. Pulled everything out of the car and went to bed. 
The whole bedroom was filled with stuff and we realised that giving away furniture results in a lack of furniture... We should have more drawers, shelfs and cupboards to store all our gear. 

On Tuesday I went to look for a job and instantly found one. It's so nice when people keep their promises! As freelancer in the last three years so many people have promised me work and then suddenly when they were supposed to have work and I kept my agenda free for the job they canceled all. And then there I was again; no money and no job. 
But the Germans seem to be accurate and honest so here I am behind my laptop in an office. Strange to have an office job again, but one with benefits. And after one week I can clearly say I have super great colleagues!

Now what do I do?
I have to say, for as far as I know, I'm sponsored by Petzl. Although I haven't seen any new gear for a year now and haven't even tied a knot in the new Petzl ropes yet, I want to stay true to my brand: Petzl. 
But, work and sports is something that's hard to combine. Petzl doesn't provide me with a salary, so I have to work somewhere. 
And that somewhere has just become Edelrid. 
I'll be a 'manusje van alles' (jack of all trades) within the company and support the team wherever needed for three days a week. 

The culture within the company is open, friendly and colleagues become friends. 
A short sketch of this week: 

Tuesday: running to work, bouldering in the midday, coffee made on the gas stove in the office, and climbing again in the evening. 
Wednesday: Drive to work, meetings about work definitions and introduction to the Edelrid product range, climb in the evening. 
Thursday: drive to work, meeting about industrial gear, boulder a bit in the midday and go the the opeining of the Christmas-market in Isny with colleagues.
Friday: run to work, edit some vid's, and rest for a bit.
Saturday: Outdoor climbing with colleagues in Starzlachklamm
Sunday: Outdoor climbing with roommate/colleague Ritchi at Chinesische Mauer
Monday: Run to work (8km), boulder at work, climb in the evening
Tuesday: Skiing with colleagues :)
Wednesday: Drive to work, work... climb, drink gluhwein in the climbinggym
Thusday: Cycling to work, work till 20:00 and restday evening
Friday: Cycling to work, work a lot and go the the companies christmas party...

I guess my week is quite fine like this. 
Would love to climb on more regular basis and I still have to find the right balance between personal interest in climbing materials, work and sponsorship. But give me another week and I'll be happy. 

Though... I really miss my old climbing gym and friends/family are suddenly very far away again...

The very secret German Gluhwein recipe

Training with the Furnace DryIce tools

The famous tower of Isny 

Skiing in Damüls, Austria

We miss the Dutch St. Nicholas on Dec. 5...

How they celebrate St. Nicholas in Allgäu
Thank you Gertrude

The opening of the Christmas Market, with 'EngelenFliegen'

Mixed climbing at Starzlachklamm

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Petzl Dutch Drytool Event - The Video!

A great impression of a super good day!

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Thanks guys for putting this together :)

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Petzl DDE 2013 - every year a little better.

Hardly done with Expeditie Geluk I jumped into the next event. The organisation of the Petzl Dutch Drytool Event, or short: DDE.

For over two weeks I slept on the couch in the bar of climbing gym Monte Cervino.
I gave up my house in Rotterdam, and my parents lived too far away to drive to the gym so my new house became my favourite climbing gym.

My livingroom
This year I had a lot of people who promised to help out but in the end didn't show up (so thank you all who did help out!)
Dennis now lives in Germany and couldn't take off from his new job/traineeship for the two weeks so I was on my own...
In the rain I hated to go outside, in the darkness it was boring and I really wanted to keep on climbing too.

Routesetting the men's finals...
There were more then 20 routes that had to be set. Two finals, and at about 20 routes varying in difficulty between M3 and M10. Goal was to make it one big playground for iceaxe-fetishists ;)
The wall is very featured and 'wavey' meaning it was hard to find holes that actually fitted the holds.
Last Thursday it was all done, even the mens finals seemed to be hard but doable. Although... I had sleepless nights, thinking of all the moves I set, girls not even able of doing the first move, holds that turned and were impossible to fixate and day-dreaming of people falling off in the start... In my head it was almost like a terrible nightmare...

At the last moment I figured we didn't have enough time to engrave the big price with last year's winners and there were mistakes in the topo (that already got printed over 150 times...)
And we had the iceaxe issue...
Last year some *$%@##F*! stole over ten iceaxes on the event. So we had to change the system this year: no iceaxes at every route but only borrowing the axes on name and ID.

On Friday Dennis arrived. I hadn't seen him for a month thus I was so excited I couldn't sleep that night :)
And Steve Johnstone came over from Scotland.

Steve doesn't need iceaxes to climb the routes :)

Not only Steve was the foreinger, but Yannik, Jurgen, Maxime came over form Belgium, Rolf came all the way from Swiss, there were French, American, British, Spanish and Russian climbers. Making it more and more a real international event. And, Gunnar was there too. Gunnar is one of the people who took me out iceclimbing for the very first time in Iceland. One of the group who made me find the passion I have now.

Rolf all the way from Swiss!
Saturday morning we did all the last preparations before the big start.
In less then on hour time we registered over 70 competitors and I counted over a 100 official competitors and of course there were also 'unofficial' climber who didn't want to compete but just have fun and try. Incredible to have that many people drytooling!

Of course some things didn't go too smooth, I for example forgot to explain that you're not allowed to put your axes in the loops of your harness when climbing and some people were pretty frustrated about the new iceaxe system we had to apply. And this year we even disqualified one climber.

The figure-of-four chain
Steve climbing just before the hold broke

Dennis is flexible

The most awesome way to hold an iceaxe!

Tm, dm, dm, tm, dm, tm, dadaaaa, Spiderman!

Our best volunteer ever, Rutger also does compete!

It's there, there, yes, there.
At the end of the day after loads of funny, hard, interesting, technical, and challenging routes we were ready for the finals.
In the dark.
All climbers got a head-torch on their helmet and climbed in the darkness. It made it all spectacular and challenging.
First climber. Yannick. Slowly he struggled his way to a big undercling in the top of the route. Almost out of time, with less then 20 seconds left he suddenly popped off the undercling!

Yannick in the first moves of the finals
My stress level went up to 300% in one second.
Shit - hold...broken - no replacement - what now - other hold...
First one of the girls and then it was Dennis turn to climb.
I wished him to win, but really set the route in a most honest way possible, using holds that he didn't knew yet and setting moves that wasn't his natural style.
And then he figured his way to the fresh hold. Bhafff! Off! Noooo! He fell off on the fresh set hold!
If my stress level could grow any higher then it already was, it did... My favourite climber had suddenly a huge disadvantage! Next girl to climb.
All girls were pretty new to iceclimbing and I was really hoping the route wouldn't be too hard.
Meanwhile I fixed the hold and replaced it with the biggest undercling possible that was impossible to break.

Fixing the hold...
Yannick and Dennis had to wait to the end and all the finalists were getting nervous waiting in the big indoor gym.
One by one the climbers climbed further, popped off or timed out on the 8 minute climb.
Jurgen came all the way to the yet again new placed undercling and after a big struggle did do the move. Unfortunately he timed out before he could reach the spectacular chains in the end of the route.

Jurgen climbing in the dark 
Meanwhile one of the most experienced girls, Marit, who joined us with drytool training before, wasn't too fortunate and popped off...

Marit figuring the fist wood-block
Steve, my favourite Scottish climber should get second place. He should...thats how good he was. But he was so unfortunate! He popped off the fourth hold! I felt really sorry for him...but it's how competitions work.
I was kind of happy I was not in his shoes, I'd be so super disappointed and blame myself for everything...
Corien did really well! She, as all other girls, doesn't own iceaxes but still managed to climb half way in the route.

Corien reaching for the first place
I was hoping they could reach for the top of the route where the mens and womens finals merged into a chain and a big block of wood.
Laurens was the last climber before Yannick and Dennis could give it a go. He was super nervous and I was really hoping it wouldn't mess too much with his mind. Actually he did really well and climbed up to a third place!

Laurens reaching for the third place
Yannick struggled and clearly was tired. He suddenly popped off and was out... His old time stayed, and thus ended up 4th place.
Then Dennis turn again. He looked as tired as Yannick and I didn't knew if he'd actually do better this time. He folded up, turned his leg over his arm, and in the little bulb of body an arm and an axe reached for the next hold on which he unfolded again.

Flexible folding figure-of-four fiddle.

Just before the undercling...
He was the only one using figure-of-four moves but it seemed to work.
I told the audience that he's super flexible, and all laughed, thinking of other things then the flexibility in drytooling.
He reached the hold, and then his old time started counting. He still had over 1:30 minutes left to climb and fairly easily reached the chains! The chains! Thats where I wanted all climbers to get to, be totally pumped and fall out swinging to the next chain. Dennis timed out on the first chain, but it didn't matter. He already won. So I let him climb all the way to the top. The audience loved it!

Jeroen being a serious belayer

One of our great camera-people, Martin!

The audience having fun :)
Two proud winners and a great event was the result. Thanks to Monte Cervino, NKBV and double thanks to Petzl who made it all possible to have this great event.
I reached my goal; we made drytooling accessible for a bigger public, everyone had fun, and I'm motivated enough to organise it again. Thank you all for competing!
The final results:

Dennis van Hoek
Jurgen Lis
Laurens Machiel

Corien Prins
Moniek de Groot
Maya ter Laag

Full results can be found here on the NKBV website. 

The Werners, the Petzl crew
Now up for the next challenge. I'm going to move to Germany tomorrow.
It feels like I settled more then ever at this place in Rotterdam, having the feeling I could develop, grow and learn.
Leaving behind an incredible group of friends, a climbing gym that I honestly love, a growing community in work and climbing, a job as freelancer, and a country that I started to understand better and better. Leaving the Netherlands again feels different then when I moved to France, Belgium and Iceland.
Now, breathe in, hold my breath and jump into the deep sea again.

All pictures copyrighted! Thanks to Hans van der Steen. Please ask before you'd use one of the pictures in this blog-post.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Petzl DDE 2013 teaser :)

The last chance to book your flight and join the Dutch Drytool Event!

- Video thanks to Joost and Martin

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Video thanks to Joost and Martin


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Petzl Dutch Drytool Event 2013

Almost. Almost.
Just one more route to set and some to fix a bit, and then we're done!
21 routes in just over 1 week time, that's not bad :)
Living in the gym and climbing, running and route setting every day makes me quite fit. And I love the climbing so much that sleeping on the couch is just fine actually...

I got really motivated by the progress and the help of Jeroen, Elwin, Bas, Erik, Jelle and all the happy people working in the gym.
Here some pictures of the progress...

Day 1. The first route, womens finals

Day 2. Chains in the finals, this is going to be spectacular!

Day 3. Routesetting in the rain...

Day 4. The wall is getting full of drytool-fun

Day 5. Getting tired. I need coffee...

Day 5 in the night... Barista Rens trying drytooling for the first time! In the freezing cold...

Day 6. My friends

Day 7. Rotterdam by night, whoa what a party...!

Day 8. Just 5 more routes...

Day 9. Jelle testing the Womans finals

Day 9, today, Jelle testing the womans finals whils I'm finetuning the mens finals.