From enthusiasts that wanted to show what they were capable of to professionals that only train for these special competitions. Some have even never climbed a natural waterfall whilst that is where the sports is named after: iceclimbing.
You can say whatever you like about this development. Personally I don't think it's a bad development. With professionalising the sports comes a joint development of safety, ethics, media attention, equipment, and new financial flows. And this is exactly what we need to get (and keep?) our sports at an Olympic level.
As part of the growth of the sports logically the difficulty of the routes has increased. The length of the routes has doubled or even tripled and the technical difficulty has increased a lot.
Impressive is therefore the performance of the climbers from the 'old' generation like Sergey and Evgeny. Evgeny stood once again in the finals of the last competition in Saas Fee this weekend. Sergey stood on the podium earlier in Bozeman.
We as Dutch climbers also have the feeling we should develop the sports.
Five years ago I climbed my first competitions in Daone and Saas Fee. It was such an experience!
Two years ago Dennis won the speed discipline here in Saas Fee giving a new impulse in the support and understanding of the sports within the Dutch federation and the Dutch climbing community.
We find we owe the federation (NKBV) and the climbing community to build and grow the sports. We find its our job as representatives of the sports to do so.
Then what do we do?
Besides climbing and training (for as far as we can train drytooling and iceclimbing in our flat country) I organise the annual Dutch Drytool Event (an open drytool competition where everyone can enter, equipment is available for free and there are routes on every level) we give clinics in drytooling, and this year we started to extend our team with young athletes. The youth wasn't completely ready yet for the Youth Worldcup but during the weeks of training two older girls got ready for their first Iceclimbing Worldcup here in Saas Fee.
They both did their best. I am proud to have them in the team. It's a good startup for further development of the sports in the Netherlands.
We arranged equipment, a presentation about ethics and history in the sports, specific trainings, UIAA regulations... And just before the Worldcup in Saas Fee we took them for a week of ice, dry and mixed climbing around Kandersteg.
Meanwhile we work on our exposure, made a webpage, keep up several Facebook pages (personal pages, general pages about the sports) and try stay up-to-date with the latest developments through all kinds of channels.
Training, coaching the Social Media, planning, training other athletes... It's a full-time job. And one of the reasons why we quit our job at Edelrid a month ago.
It became a little too much for me this weekend.
The hassle with the licenses when we subscribed, the whole arrangements and planning for the two new Dutch climbers, traveling itself, helping others with their licence/entry/equipment, Dennis who didn't climb as good as he could have done and he got a little injured, not too fantastic nights the past weeks (Dennis has epilepsy and it only occurs during his sleep) and being utterly nervous because of feeling the pressure to perform... All this things took so much energy!
On the morning of the semi's I woke up really early. Just couldn't get to sleep anymore...Tried some breakfast, but decided most would be more fitting for lunch. The bulge of nervousness didn't support the appetite.
When in isolation I warmed up, slowly. But the bulge in my stomach became a knot and turned into sickness. Again. The reminder of being so nervous worried me enough to having to throw up. And again.
Why? Why? I was desperate, angry, confused.
When in the separate isolation just before my climb my supporters (my parents, friends) came up to me. "Come on girl, you can do this." I needed silence, concentration, not words, no distractions.
They couldn't help it, their support for my climbing was just meant in a positive way.
I was wondering where Dennis was. I wanted to tell him to keep a little silence around me. Where was he? Was he allright? Why was he not here yet?
Time to climb.
With every move more energy drained to my stomach instead of my arms. The moves were tricky, I was slowly making progress. My hands got tired, pumped. I had to shake, rest. "Come on move on."
I got to the ice, just barely. Had to move to the wood. Just swing in the wood. The energy was gone, the time was gone. In desperately swung and the axe stuck. My... That took so much, that looked so pathetic!
I was sure I was out. No finals there for me. I didn't ever get past the wood!
I went back to the hotel, lay in the bathtub. Thought it all over again.
My parents and Dennis came by. They told me I was just not in the finals. Got 9th place.
I knew I was out and even thought I'd be lower in the ranking.
Not much later Dennis told me there was a mistake in the online ranking. I stood 8th. Meaning I would be in the finals! Surprised, confused.
Pretty sure they just didn't update the latest results yet.
But then in a comment Alex (the one who does all registrations and results for the UIAA) told me the list was correct. I was in! Bizarre!
I had not much to prepare for the finals so I decided to lay in bed. Relax.
A day ago I wrote down the schedule. From my phone to a little note block I
Wrote down the times. When the route-preview starts, when the isolation opens, when the price giving ceremony would be.
There was just an online schedule, no printed one anywhere.
To me the times sounded totally logical.
At 16:00 I was ready to leave the hotel. Some people wanted to come over to the hotel and walk with us. I was sure there was enough time for that. They went to the toilet, picked up some stuff and I thought it was also okay to be a little later in the isolation; less time to get nervous.
We waited for the elevator (it took ages) and I first walked down into the Boulder room. No one was there. I was about to unpack but decided to walk to the heated room upstairs (second part of the isolation). A man looked with an angry surprise in my direction. All athletes, coaches had their eyes on me. I still had no idea.
"Too late" the man said with a fairly angry voice in a Swiss-German accent. I still had no idea.
Dennis was with me, I asked him to join me in the iso.
We looked at his watch. Still no idea of being too late.
In what felt like ages a lady came up to me and started in French. I was too late, she said. Confused by all the languages but still understanding I stumbled back in Dutch-English. That it couldn't be. I was in time. I was just downstairs there was no-one there. She blamed me, in English this time, that it was my responsibility to check in time. I was not allowed to start.
I wanted to speak to the head judge.
And so we walked out of the isolation. Walking out of the iso meant out of the competition. Only then I dared to ask Dennis for my phone. We never got any printed schedule beforehand and not even at the results-board hung a schedule. I went online (which costs a fortune here in Swiss) and checked the schedule. 16:15 closure of the iso. I was too late. They were right.
I walked away. Angry, confused and utterly ashamed of making such, such a stupid mistake!
I cried. Wanted to hit something, someone. Run away and never come back. Ashamed of not taking the unique opportunity to climb in the finals. All negativity came out in once: I am such a bad climber, I can't even take care of my own stuff, I don't deserve anything, I can't finish anything, I'm such a looser!
I didn't want to go back to the venue. Didn't want to get on stage, I didn't even climb in the finals so I'm not allowed to be there!
With all energy I got and the force of Dennis and my parents Still went to see the men's finals. And still went on the stage when they called out my name. Marc (Beverly) handed out the prices (a bottle of wine and €50,- cash). I wanted to crawl off the stage. Walk out, away from the big crowd waiting for the big winner (Angelika) to walk on to the podium.
Now, a day later I still find myself stupid and dumb. And still don't feel like climbing competitions again. I feel more like hiding, running away from everyone. Not being around anyone. Away from any situation where I can make mistakes. So ashamed...
Only it's impossible to hide and run forever. So, I'm still here, not knowing what to do, but still here. And maybe even moving on.