Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Bad Gastein Austria, Supervisor 270m WI6 on a 'sick' day.

After  three weeks of competition climbing we are on the road again.
This time not with our beloved VW T3 Syncro campervan, but with a simple rental car. No warm home, kitchen, bookshelf full of climbing guidebooks, and our sweet little bed.
Just before the start of the Rabenstein IWC the gearbox decided to bail on us. Not a chance that they’d have a gearbox like ours in Italy.
Actually, getting the car to the garage was the biggest challenge.

Markus Bendler, who decided to retire from Worldcup climbing after Rabenstein told us Bad Gastein was one of the more interesting places for proper Austrian ice right now.

A snowy ride through Austria brought us in Bad Gastein. As we don’t have heating and the kitchen in the car we found a place to sleep in the “Euro Youth Hotel”.
With some very good advice from the local hero Hans Zlöbl who also wrote the guidebook with Sepp Inhöger we diceded a good starting route would be the classic “Mordor” in ”Eisarena”, just up the valley from Bad Gastein.

After dinner Marianne tells me she is not feeling really well. I totally understand where she is going through. I din’t recover very well from my fever after Korea.
So we decided to go to sleep and see in the morning.

After a feverish warm-cold-hot-sweat night Marianne isn’t feeling good. But she decides that we “have” to climb. So we have a good breakfast and head out.
We arived at the parking up after Böckstein around 8:30 to find 6 other cars in place and loads of people walking up…

Our own walk up, takes us ages, every ten steps we have to gain our breathe again. Not becuase we’re Dutch and not used to the height, but becuase we probably both are still in a bad fever.

When we arive at the bottom of the route there is a line of 2 parties for Mordor. 2 parties for Rodeo. The only route free is Supervisor the WI6. So my first ice route this season will be the grand classic WI6.

The parties next to us like to talk loud and bright and some turn out to be talented rock, axe and ice throwers. There were two big winners: one who pulled out a block the size of a good sized radio in the second pitch of Rodeo, the other got full points for dropping his iceaxe down the cliff in the fourth pitch of Rodeo…

Dennis felt ‘tensioned’ with all the activity next to him, I noticed it made in pretty insecure and he wasn’t too fast in the first pitches.
I wasn’t faster then him at all. Soreness in my whole body, headache and out of breathe with every move. I was happy the ice wasn’t too hard so I only had to swing once in every move.

The higher we climbed the harder it became. Dennis didn’t feel any better when he noticed he should have tightened his frontpoints on his crampons. They were loose as shit and ‘trembled’ with every kick and move.
That was just one of the little details you forget when you haven’t climbed ice yet this season.
He also figured his mixed picks on his axes weren’t made for blobby ticky WI6 pitches. As we first wanted to do the easy Mordor or the mixed route Rodeo, we both had our mixed picks on our axes. The extra teeth make the picks sink in well, but it makes it a pain getting them out again.
My picks were doing better as I already filed off the extra teeth.

The higher we got the more difficult the climbing, but our bodies went souple through the ice. Even with every breathe I had to take :)

When you’re seconding climbing big flowers is fun hooking your way up. But while I was leading the flowers felt really insecure. And those coliflowers won’t give any good spots to put screws in.

Next problem was our rope.
We like to stretch out pitches. Climb the full ropelength up to 50 or 60m.
Our rope is getting old and thin ropes are expensive…
The rope was totally soaked after the first pitch. It made it super hard to pull up and even belaying became impossible with a Reverso on the half frozen soaked rope.

On the single last pitch I belayed in my downjacket. The snow wettening the jacket and soon the puffy became like wet toiletpaper wrapped around my feverish body.
I knew what was going to be next and I so wasn’t looking forward to that…
At the same Time I (Dennis ) was working on my squats. Pulling the rope up that seemed to be pulled down even harder every meter is was ascending.

Every iceclimber knows when you get it: walk up, cool down, then start to climb when you’re cold and then it starts: screaming barfeys. Called after the things you want to do then: cry, scream and you’ll have the feeling of throwing up (or you actually do throw up).
Once you’ve gone through it, it won’ hit you again for a while.
I cried when I reached the belay.
Dennis thought I wanted to return as I wasn’t feeling well, but with just one long pitch left I couldn’t resist: need-to-climb-ice-now.

The last pitch started tricky and topped out in the wet ice. Dennis traversed from our belay to the middle of the ice getting to the more stable part of the slightly overhanging wall.
We rappeled over the old ‘tv-bolts’ through the dozens of frozen Edelweiss flowers and slid down to the car through the thick layer of fresh snow.

A perfect occlusion after a great day in the Mountains.

Video time

Recently a couple people had been busy with editing nice video's.

1. Ouray Ice Park, gives a good view on the Ouray area, where you really should go if you want to climb ice.

2. The Ouray ice comp, in which I competed too.

3. The Icelanders and their sportsclimbing/bouldering. All in Icelandic, but o.k. to watch as it has some footage of what's possible to climb there too.

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"Ice" presented by the Ouray Ice Park from Outside Adventure Media on Vimeo.

Elite Mixed Ice Climbing - 2013 Ouray Ice Festival from Outside Adventure Media on Vimeo.

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Rabenstein IWC

The very inventious mobile icewall used for the speedclimbing demo in the centre of Meran.
Quick thought: can't we use this to promote iceclimbing?

Rabenstein didn't really go as planned.
After a nice break in Arco I thought I was ready for the comp.
But I guess the stress of making it in time to Rabenstein with a broken gearbox and more 'endless-Marianne-thoughts' wasn't helping me.

Dennis asked if I could please stop trying to burn a hole in the ceiling of his campervan.

I ended 13th after a slow quarterfinal where it took me longer then expected to find the right way to use the holds and the insecure climbing in the semi's gave me a time-out before I was pumped.
The disappointment didn't help with the speedclimbing either and there I ended lower then ever too...

Dennis did slightly better when it was so warm that he got a block of ice the size of a microwave on his chest when climbing the qualifications and thus didn't reach the semi's.
But as he's looking solid on speed he made it to a 4th place :) He's now even 2nd in the overall ranking!
See his blog for more pics/stories.

That performance overruled our disgust to Romania and the awful experience we had last year on that comp... We're going to Romania again... Hoping to get Dennis to a first place in the worldranking.

That all leaves us 1,5 weeks left in the Alps.
Time for real ice!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ouray to Saas Fee

You win some you loose some. For me it felt like loosing a little bit and failing incredibly.

"But for a Dutch climber you did really well" "You looked pretty strong there" "You'll do better next time" "The others are so strong too" "But if you don't reach the finals, please don't be too disappointed" "Did you see how she did that move there after you fell out?" "I'm so going to watch the women's finals, they look so strong" "cheer up, you did a good job"

No, I'm not happy, I'm not satisfied, I didn't do a good job and stop trying to cheer me up with all your nonsense.

I barely reached the semi finals and with more then 5 minutes left on the clock I slipped out of the ice barrel not even half-way up the route. I was not even pumped. Fuck.

Last year I had de possibility to dedicate most of my year to climbing and I could work part-time as freelancer for several companies. Saving every single penny this whole year to only spent it all on climbing. Plane tickets for the Alpine Mentor Programme, subscription to the gym, super healthy food, every penny I counted.
The goal was to finally perform on the Worldcup Iceclimbing and climb hard mixed and ice this Winter season.

In Ouray I was happy to have climbed quite some hard things in the ice-park and in The Hall of Justice. Several M/D10's onsight, D11+ os, M9's onsight and that all without getting severely pumped!
I knew I was in shape and I knew I could do much more then the easy graded routes in the Hall of Justice.

Ouray, probably the only town in the world with ice farmers

The whole week in Ouray I kept on waking up, nervous for the upcoming competition. On the final day that Saturday I actually felt pretty ok. Although I had the worst warm-up ever (long story with occupied ropes and not enough space for all competitors) but with the -27C I was feeling pretty fine.
Up at the log I got nervous, after I felt fine in the first bit. I couldn't get my axe out of the wood and couldn't figure the next move properly. Getting confused even more with the dangling chain around my shoulder I made a mistake: I thought it would be better not to kick my feet in the log as it was so hard to get my axes out, I reached for the next hold after the first "fixed iceaxe" my feet popped off and out... Fairly disappointed there.
Not just because I figured it wouldnt be enough for the first place, but more because I really wanted to climb that route.
Vince Anderson and the whole team had put SO much effort in making that route there! And yes, as Steve said afterwards, I would have been happy only if I'd beaten Jeff there.
He was right.
I'm a climber, preferably an outdoor climber. And outdoor stuff like rock and ice doesn't care if you're a man or a woman. I mean: the ice is not going to form any easier when it sees that you're a woman trying to climb up...

Me in the comp route

So second place it was. Ines got disqualified after the grabbed a part of the iceaxe that was marked red, red meant a 'no-go' boundary. We both got the same height but she reached that point just a little faster, gaining the first place in the women's.

The next day I surprisingly ended on third place on the Hari Berger Speedclimbing competition!
I'm a super slow climber, so a weird result, but satisfied with that. Although, I don't take the seedclimbing too serious.

Steven and Logan in their Speed Battle

After a good session with our team, discussing training goals and future destinations it was time to fly back, to Geneva.

Airport blues

That's where I met Dennis. He had a cold, was a bit stressed and all the excitement that I felt before slightly disappeared. He seemed busy with other things...
And it didn't get any better when I figured both our Diesel heaters were broken. Sleeping in a campervan without proper heating in -17 C is not funny.
Following my training plan I should go hardcore on a morning drytool session.

That morning session faded away when the gas/acceleration cable was too frozen. Causing the engine to make way too many rpm. It took us half a day to fix it, having just a couple hours left for a short session at the Therme. I flashed the long 7b+ graded traverse after Dennis onsighted it. We did some other easier things and had fun with Roeland and William who we accidentally met there.
They invited us in Chamonix (took us a while to get there with the frozen cable)

Frozen cable...

Always interesting to talk with Roeland about all he does. He really inspires me!
I figured William is quite an inspiring guy too :)
Roeland was so kind to have us in his livingroom that night. Better then a freezing cold campervan :)
The next morning the cable was totally frozen again. We were even worried doubting if we could reach Saas Fee in time.
The ANWB (Dutch version of what in German is called ADAC) should help out but so far (three days later) we still don't have a new cable, so we're stuck in Saas Fee...

Chamonix... (no photoshop!)

The next day, competition day one started at 06:20 in the morning with breakfast
The isolation closed at 07:45 and I was one of the first to climb.
Dennis was so sweet to stay in the isolation with me, comforting me and getting the attention on other things then nervousness.
I used an alternative method to warm up. Less climbing, bit of cardio and stuff.
Worked pretty well I found, saving my energy for the real job: climbing the route.
The climbing went o.k. I was just so slow and insecure, timing out again. I was hoping to get higher then this...
Lucky enough to reach the semi's with that result.
Meanwhile coach Tim van der Linden, pro Photographer Menno Boermans and NKBV Photographer Reinier Rijke watched the climb.
So nice to have a Dutch support team.

Screenshots from the qualifications

Dennis did fairly better in the next discipline that was planned for that day..
He ended up in 9th in the qualifications for the speed climbing.
Easily good enough for the finals later that day.
Later on he did even better and reached the semi's in the lead as well :)

Dennis climbing the qualifications

I was then up for the speed round. As I'm a very slow climber I'm just naturally not good in that discipline. Basically have the wrong genes I guess.
Though, did a goo job with climbing in just 13 seconds to the top of the wall. Good for a 12th place. Not the best, but my fastest climb ever. Urs, one of the speakers really entertained the public during the climb, telling that I'm there just for fun. And actually, now that I didn't take it all that serious it actually became fun to climb :)

Picture: Menno Boermans
Later that night something happened. Fairly extraordinary special and unique.
Dennis and the Russians were competing in the finals of the speed comp.
He looked fine even with his flu and bad sleep.
The test run went fine and the ice got worse in every climb.
Already in our women's run the ice wasn't too good, but now the fragile ice-fifi's seemed to rip through every time again.
His first run went fine, not the fastest yet though, but he could definitely still perfect it all.
He looked at the wall, 18 competitors in between him and the next run. Carefully looking on where to place his tools as effective as possible.
Theoretically he'd only need 6 moves to reach the timer on top of the wall.
The other climbers were sometimes faster, slower, some fell and ripped out even more ice.
Second try, out of three.
Dennis ran up, only made slight mistakes and reached the top in a flow. Then the time: 7.05 seconds.
The best time so far!
Still two runs to go for most climbers.We, still weren't sure and thought he 'might just reach the podium, or not'. We expected the Russians to get better then that.
But one after the other kept falling and failing to set a better time. Dennis had one more try but unfortunately made a small mistake, but still the fastest run counts.
So many climbers still to go!
The last climber up... A strong climber, a fast one... The last one to possibly crush Dennis time. He didn't crush it. He...
Oh my, he hardly believed it himself. He just WON the Worldcup Speedclimbing 2013 Saas Fee!
The first Dutch to win an iceclimbing worldcup, the first non-Russian for years and years. Dennis just broke the Russian Speedclimbing empire, Dennis, after seven years of worldcup climbing just did it.
I'm proud and honestly think he really deserved this. He'd been so close every time again, and now he finally proved he's the best, the fastest. That's just AWESOME!

Dennis just after he realised he won the speed comp

There wasn't much time for celebrations. The next morning, today I had to wake up early, again. Women's semi finals.
My warm-up similar to yesterday's but my sleep time that night was less... Dennis is still having a bad cold, we kept on waking up making the night seem to last forever.

In the isolation there is no cellphone reception, you're not allowed to have any contact with others then the judges and fellow competitors in the isolation. Everyone being there with the same goal: to reach the finals.
The route seemed do-able when we had the route preview. One pathetic girl kept on asking route details when back in the isolation zone. Working on my nerves there. I decided music and big headphones would do the job there :)
Every climber has ten minutes for the route. Making it seem to last forever before it was my time I climb. I was warm, ready and had nothing else to do but wait.
I got so nervous...
I started to feel sick, was over the point of having to pee of nervousness, I was heading to the point of being sick of nervousness.
I tried to get my mind off the competition climbing, thinking really hard of positive experiences in outdoor routes. Eliminating any thought of failure, any thought of having to perform, any thought of consequences of my climbing for myself.
I changed my music, watched pictures, thought of other things then climbing, tried to get into Yoga mode and chill, breathe. And then suddenly I just had to throw up. Slowly I reached the toilet. Great, nice preparation I thought. Later sitting next to the venue, almost my time to climb, it came up again....
When my turn came I had a fairly solid start, remembering my mistakes from the Qualifiers I moved fast and solid, not letting myself get time to rest. Ten minutes, I could easily climb hard for ten minutes.
Some of the moves felt tricky but ok, even with my heart banging in my stomach.

In the first moves after the ice-start.
Picture: Menno Boermans
I stalled out on a move to a barrel of ice. Pre-drilled holes, lock off and move was the plan. The hole I went for actually wasn't that good, and I found with a figure of four would I'd waste my time. I went in the hole again, a bit deeper and suddenly my axe completely slipped out! Having locked off completely I had no back-up with my other axe on the previous hold. Fuuuck, I screamed, off I was... Game over. With more then five minutes of climbing time left I failed, utterly failed to reach the finals. Confused, defeated I just wanted to leave.
All this fuckin work, I know I'm way better then last year but with a 15th place in the end ranking I had no way to prove my progression on paper.
I just so much want to be a climber, but it seems I'm not...

Dennis did fairly better later on the day. The comp started earlier then planned as there was a time conflict, there was not enough time in between the men's semi's and the woman's finals.
His flu didn't really help him. Totally out of breath he fell out. Reaching a good high point and becoming 13th. No finals, but he was satisfied with his result after all. Many others got disqualified after getting their axes in over the red lines in the wood. And oh yes, Nomics rule when you have to swing :) Some climbers had so much trouble getting their axes in the wood because of the awkward axe design. But all climbers with Nomics seemed just fine.

Right now the men are climbing the finals. With the absence of Markus Bendler, who decided it was time to quit. Probably tired of the immense amount of Russians competing.
Felicitas Feller didn't compete either, she's really ill now after she came back from the Worldcup in Korea...

The Russians on the Worldcup is getting quite an issue. Sometimes it seems more like an Russian championship instead of a worldcup. Making it less attractive for other countries to join the comps...
I'll come back on that later.

Hee Yong Park, second place in between 7 Russians...

Now time for the price giving, with the Dutch national anthem, Wilhemus van Nassouwe...

Dennis and the Russians :)
Note the Nomic iceaxe on the medal

Tomorrow we'll have to wait for the cable and then we drive passed my dream route, passed all the ice up to the next worldcup in Rabenstein.
I wish I could skip that one and just climb for myself, outdoors, without all the stress and nerves, just me, the ice, the rock, that doesn't care who you are and will be the same for all.
Dream on...

The "Dutch Championships" icewall made by Thomas Knoope

Meanwhile in the Netherlands we have a 'natural' icewall. The organisers (not the Dutch Mountain Federation NKBV itself) decided to call it an "NK" (Dutch Championship). From the 'Knoope Open Ice' into Dutch Championships, thats quite a significant change.
I think they should consider a new name if they'd like to take the sport serious.
I mean, look at the wall, it's not even remotely representative to the actual international level of iceclimbing competitions and next to that, the best Dutch athletes are on the Worldcup or somewhere in the Alps right now, so a the new 'Dutch Champions' won't actually be the best Dutch iceclimbers...
It's not that I'm against the idea of having an event on an ice wall in the Netherlands, it's just that I don't find the name and attention fitting the event.
We have a Worldcup winner here, and a tiny Dutch icewall gets more media attention?!

Dennis is famous in Saas Fee :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Ouray Ice 2.

On this side of the world it's all about ice, mixed and drytooling.
Strange and funny, but on the other side of the world it's almost the same thing at the Iceclimbing Worldchampionships in South-Korea.
Dennis is now there to climb.
You can follow all the climbers on the Korean Worldchampionships Facebook page here.

I have a restday. Sleeping, internet, music, eating, and I just made a little video of some things I'd been up to the last week.
Together with the others of the Alpine Mentor Programme we're really having a good time here in the cold.
Oh, yes, please Like our Facebookpage and/or subscribe on Twitter. (@AlpineMentors)

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Monday, January 07, 2013

Ouray Ice Fest 1.

Still totally jetlagged but super excited with all this ice around me.
Three days ago I arrived in Ouray with Colin (of the Alpine Mentor Programme). He was so kind to even pick me up from the airport.
They dropped me at Stevens place and even he was still awake to greet me.
Although I still pretty tired because of the time difference, I had the chance to climb quite a bit.
One easy ice/speed climbing day and one hard M10 (os!) drytool day.
And in the background the comp wall.
I already met quite some cool people here an the whole town is filled with iceclimbers. Kids, girls, and guys with gaitors. But Steve [House] says gaitors are cool so it's okay :)