Sunday, November 30, 2014

The DTS at Usine

The train takes long. Forever long. The only entertainment left was my mobile phone after I finished all the work on my laptop. My e-book had an empty battery and I couldn't fit knitting needles in my two stuffed bags. 
On Facebook the 'should-the-Dutch-Climbing-Federation-tell-climbers-how-to-use-a-Figure-of-Eight-"belay-device"-discussion' got pretty spicy. Good entertainment for me. I mostly don't comment when I see totally senseless reactions, but this time I couldn't resist. Online it's still going on 2 days later now. I don't care anymore. I had different things on my mind.

Facebook...oh, Facebook...

Gaetan picked me up from the trainstation in Grenoble. His livingroom was now my bedroom.
On Saturday he and some friends organised the 'Dry Tool Style' in Usine, a massive drytool area in Voreppe (next to Grenoble). It was the final of a series of friendly competitions in French drytool areas. All in real rock, totally different from most other competitions that are often held on artificial walls.

The marking below the cave

The sun, the cliffs. What more you you need in life :)

On Friday I helped out preparing the cliff. I belayed Pierre, did gardening and enjoyed the sunny day and good view. So much better then my regular office job.

Gaetan doing some advanced gardening

Usine is a huge cave. The rock on the sides is so compact that is pretty much feature-less. The back of the cave is loose and couldn't even be bolted. Everywhere you see blobs of moss and water dripping down. In the past it had been mined for roof tiles. Before someone lived in the cave, a guy called Bibi. Locals therefor call the cave after Bibi instead of Usine. (Usine means factory, named after the noisy concrete factory underneath the cave)

The factory below the cave

Ze Jezus

A painting in the left side of the cave reminds of Bibi, in rusty brown a Jezus-like figure with a bottle and a big bird decorates the cliff. You need a bit of imagination to spot the big painting though. Once a year he sold home-made spirits (or something) to the villagers, maybe that explains the bottle in his hand.

Pierre drilling and climbing at the same time

The cave has had a lot of different functions. The Swastika cross they hacked away. 
In the winter of 2008-2009 Gaëtan and Etienne (if I'm correct) re-discovered the cave. It was immediately clear the cave couldn't be used for Sportsclimbing. The bolts that were there already were of an old aid route. Gaetan and friends invited their super strong climbing friends (9a climbers) to discover any possibilities for Sportsclimbing, but even they found the cave not fitting Sportsclimbing. 
Route after route got drilled and bolted. Drilled, as there were literary no features at all. And the pockets needed to be deep to maintain them. Impressive routes like the D14 called Bichette are now part of the Drytool Style in Usine.
And now in Summer time other people use the cave. Non-climbers.

Gaetan at his Usine office

That evening Gaetan even cooked a full meal for me, his brother and friends. Soup, pasta and fruit as dessert. I felt welcome and also privileged.

Saturday. Climbing day. 
We all woke up early and it was still dark when we got at the cliff. It was already busy and people already started climbing. Although this was my second day at the cliff I was still impressed by it's size. Now with all the people in the routes it was even more amazing. All these people are drytooling! I'd never seen such a big group of people drytooling on real rock. 
There was music, crêpes with Nutella, vin chaud, tea, and DTS t-shirts for sale. People with big camera lenses were hanging in the static ropes around the roof of the cave. 
I chatted with different people until they told me it was time to start climbing. I'd have a lot to do. They were right. It was going to be a tough day. 

Even the best sometimes almost fall ;)

Gaetan and Jeff showing off

I started with some easier routes on the right side of the cave and after a while I found myself in one of the harder routes. A D10, and I flashed it!

Steph in Infinity, D10
Young climber in orange (wannabe Dutch?)

Surprised with my own strength I went on to the next route. L'Usine, a D11. I heard all the routes in Usine are rather stiff graded, an Usine D11, would be a D12 or even D12+ at other places. But hey, in the end a grade is just another super relative number. 

Slightly nervous I started in the route. My belayer was the local Pack. I spotted him in Infinity, D10, doing a one-armer to clip the next quickdraw. That guy is strong. He'd climbed the route before and gave me all the beta. Telling me I shouldn't do any figure of fours as I wouldn't need them. I wasn't so sure yet and besides, women were allowed to do 'yarinos' as they're called in French. 
I was happy to reach the top and surprised at the same time: I didn't feel that hard! Happy to have flashed the hardest route in the qualifications I went on to do the other ones. Within just a few hours I got third place in the ranking. But not for long. Others that didn't manage to flash the routes still had enough time to project them and still get the points.

Results in process

I kept on climbing with my new friend Pack and continued flashing the routes. 
At the end I had one route left to climb and still more then enough time to climb it. I decided to leave it, save some skin on my hands and some power in my arms. Although, I still had enough power at the end. I just felt really good and energetic. 
Looking back I wonder...if I would have done it...
I was already so satisfied and so happy with what I'd climbed I just didn't care about results. Surprising, me not being competitive.

Preparations for the finals in the dark

Stephanie was competitive and wanted to get it all. She climbed them all. The other girl, Coralie, new in the national French team only managed to climb a few routes. She was new to it all. 
I was set for the finals and qualified 6th in the overall ranking. The organisation decided to split the men and women and suddenly we had 11 people in the finals. Steph, the new girl and me were in the women's finals. 
Though, finals weren't about winning so the prices were handed out before the finals actually started. A good idea! 
I got nervous when it was my turn to climb. Already stressed after Steph almost decided to quit. The new French girl was using the super long iceaxes. And why was she in the finals anyway Steph wondered. If she would have known there was a seperate women's finals she would not have climbed as much to reach the finals. I could see her point. This was her show, her place and suddenly some new girl took it and she even used the super long axes! Also, if Coralie would get te first place, it would be the thing people see. Only the first place counts. And that is true, even if it's a friendly competition the winner gets all. And all that will be remembered afterwards online... I remember very well how I found it to become second in Buxton a month ago...

To Steph it was an unfair game. She didn't have her day. Her mind played tricks with her in the routes, suddenly having to project the routes that I flashed was certainly not what she'd expected beforehand. She's a good climber though, very experienced and her competitive and determined style brought her where she is today. A female mountain guide in France, a climber who's winning competitions and last week she even managed to flash the D12 Castor et Pollux. An impressive ascent.

I didn't care too much about the long axes. They fit in the UIAA box, it's strange no company had searched the iceaxe limit so far and personally I never had the feeling I really needed them. I just think you admit your weakness when you climb with super long axes. I often ask the men that use the long axes if they're trying to compensate their small dick. Not sure what I could ask a women...maybe something like 'so you like big things hay?' 
This was not a competition about who has the longest/biggest. It was about personal achievements, fun and friends. It turned out she did have an advantage though. Being taller then both of us, with the extra long axes she managed to reach some holds. Not with style, not with power, but she made it. For her it was a good practice for the worldcup season, it was okay.

Coralie on her way to the first place

My turn to climb. Jeff belayed me. Earlier the super strong Jeff and Gaëtan showed the route so it was a flash comp but the locals in the finals had climbed bits of the route before.
The first moves were long but I could make them. "Whooo", "sexy" and "lekker lekker" (Dutch for nice or tasty) they screamed to me from the audience. I found it funny. Suddenly one move looked long. Figure of four? I tried, hung around for a bit and tried again. When pulling in the Figure of four on my right axe I suddenly slipped! I was out! Wow! I totally didn't expect to come off. The boys blamed the figure of four. I just didn't knew. I felt bummed! But it was okay, I was happy with my results anyway.
Just a bit later it was Steph to climb. She also did a figure of four on that same hold and slipped off as well! Wow! Again! I was so surprised! The new girl had beaten us both!

Six Pack Power in the finals ;)

It was Pack's turn to climb. He was nervous I noticed. Funny, totally unnecessary as he climbs so well. The men in the DTS series are not allowed to do figure of fours so he pulled his was through with a lot of dynamic power. 
He stalled at a long move in the higher bit of the route. That move was so long! He almost fully dyno-ed and missed! Out! I was really hoping he'd top out the route!

Pack falling off...

When all had climbed I wanted to get a second go. I found I should be able to make the move. Jeff was willing to belay again. No figure of fours. At the move I swung and grabbed it! "I told you, no figure of four" they screamed to me from the ground. They were right. I moved on and on and passed the point where the French girl fell. Again a long move. Sideways. I got the hold, my arms totally stretched to the maximum span. I found a little foothold but Gaëtan screamed 'no feet'. I wasn't so sure about that advice. Got my axe loose and fell! The axe still up in the hold. Again, he was right, no feet would have been better! It took a while before I could get the axe back. It fell to the ground, not the best one was wearing helmets and it dropped just 2 metres away from the audience (sorry for that...)
We cleaned up the crag, hauled all down and went to the 'MacDo'. Pack invited me for a party in Grenoble but after we'd dropped off the final stuff in Crolles it was just too late for me. Time to sleep. 
The train right now, Sunday, is not as comfortable as I hoped for. The mother of 2 sitting next to me isn't the best. A crying baby and an horrible kid. For hours and hours they keep on being irritating. The father goes around the train all the time, aggressively taking money from the girls wallet and leaving again. Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight. Dream of powerful drytooling routes. I love that style. DTS spirit it is.

My home for the rest of this week

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Had ik maar...

De achteraffers

Had ik dat achteraf niet moeten zeggen?
Had ik dat achteraf niet moeten doen?
Zo leven wij - de achteraffers.
Had ik dat moeten verzwijgen - toen?

Had ik de wasman een fooi moeten geven?
Had ik dat achteraf nou maar gedaan!
Had ik met Adriaan moeten gaan leven
of zou dat misschien ook niet goed zijn gegaan?

Had ik die jas niet liever moet kopen?
Had ik maar NIET naar Marie moeten gaan?
Had ik maar beter gewoon kunnen lopen
in plaats van zolang op lijn negen te staan?

Had ik die trap liever niet moeten boenen
en had ik niet uit moeten gaan zonder vest
en had ik me niet moeten laten zoenen 
door die vervelende kerel uit West?

Wij achteraffers, wat zijn we toch moeilijk
en - achteraf - voor ons zelf nog het meest.
Had men ons niet beter op kunnen hangen?
Was dat achteraf niet het beste geweest?

'Dankzij jou en jullie jubileumboek ben ik nu ingelijfd bij de literatuur, althans dat zegt men algemeen. Ik voel me de bejaarde hoer die plotseling op visite mag bij de streng calvinistische familie. Ze zijn vriendelijk.' 

Dit aardige, korte en prachtig-venijnige briefje schreef Annie M. G. Schmidt aan uitgever Geert van Oorschot kort na de verschijning in 1985 van de bundel Gedichten, waaraan zij meewerkte. Hij bevatte een keuze uit eigen werk van zes dichteressen die de uitgever de moeite waard vond. De andere vijf waren Elisabeth Eybers, Fritzi Harmsen van Beek, Judith Herzberg, Hanny Michaelis en M. Vasalis. 

Vandaag kreeg ik dit gedicht, wat wel heel toepasselijk is op mij. 
Dit denk ik elke dag, elke week en maakt me kritisch over alles wat ik doe. 

Maar vandaag kreeg ik meer nieuws. 

Een paar maanden terug besloot ik niet mee te gaan met "mijn" team naar India.
Het voelde niet goed, niet veilig, niet sterk. Ik was ergens bang voor, ergens zat het niet goed. Succesvol zou het niet worden. 
Tenminste, dat gevoel had ik.
Vanaf m'n besluit dacht ik bijna elke dag "had ik maar".

Vandaag kreeg ik bericht. Slecht weer, en zo veel dingen die niet liepen zoals ze hadden kunnen of moeten lopen. 
Het eigenlijke doel was daarom niet gehaald. 

Voor een dagje is de "had ik maar" eventjes verdwenen. 
Soms zijn beslissingen heel moeilijk, maar soms, als je je gevoel volgt, komt het goed.