woensdag 27 augustus 2014

On the way back from Greenland!

Siebe met some Britisch climbers and is on his way back from Greenland! You can follow the route they are sailing here!

maandag 28 april 2014

Belly full of 'Desert Cracks'!

April, the perfect month for some desert climbing on the sandstone in Utah. Three years ago I learned how to jam fingers, hands and other body parts in those amazing pure splitters of all sizes. I like sportclimbing, bouldering and multi-pitch climbing but the pure crack climbing and the technique that it requires is the style that gets me the most psyched. On my 7 month trip around the US in 2011, one of my favourite places was Indian Creek. This time I went back with some more crack climbing experience, still the goal was to climb a lot of classic lines and get some crack mileage done.

This time I wasn't travelling alone. I went out to climb together with crackclimbing master Mason Kinloch Earl, the skinny American who was also on the Venezuela expedition 2012. As a true desert master he showed me the best cracks and classics around Moab and in Indian Creek. Climbing with Mason I soon realised that one month wasn't enough for all the hard crackclimbs around there. Still, I made a big effort to do as much as I could do. Also I joined Laurence Yernaux aka 'Lolo' for the start of her 6 month during trip through the US this year! It is nice to see someone developing her climbing like that every day. Learning how to crack climb is new process of learning how to climb again!

The States are great, I have to admit I love the freedom and the wide nature and open spaces. Like Earle would say; 'This is the fucking desert man, you can do whatever you want!' So after only a week we went out on a rest day to shoot some guns. After destroying some empty cheap beer cans from the night before, we drove away past some cops. Close to where we had our little shooting fun. 'No worries' Mason said. 'As long as you shoot about 30 feet from the road it's fine.' So yes, I guess desert has its rules but as long as you don't bother anybody, you can do whatever you want!

Besides shooting guns, eating muffins and drinking Mokka in the coffee shops we got some sick climbs done. The first few days I slowly got back into the jamming business. No footholds at the sides or little crimps in the cracks to make it easier, just jamming. I kind of forgot how painful it was. The feet, the fingertips, the hands and every joint in your body gets twisted and worked. But once you got the technique, the climbing gets less painful and more fun. Climb after climb the feeling came back and soon I was ready for some harder stuff, either thin or wide! 

Hidden Gem
I started off with the classic 35 meter size .75 splitter 'The Optimator'. The start was thin and hard with my fat fingers, which are bigger then the average finger size amongst the climbers. That's a special thing about crack climbing, the size of your fingers or hands can make a route easier or harder compared to one other. Only two tries and The Optimator went down, that was quick. I could remember that route which I tried once three years ago quite a bit harder. Soon other hard routes like Pink Flamingo, Death of a Cowboy and Hidden Gem followed. All of them I could do second go. On that last one I came really close to onsight, a little mistake in combination with a brain fart made me fall off at the very end.

Then one day Mason and I did the second and third ascent of 'Generics' an amazing technical face climbing route on small but bomber gear at the Pregnant Woman Wall. Thin face crimps on the sandstone rock with some far moves and high feet make this climb unique for the Creek. Also on this one I got close to a flash ascent! Thanks Patrick for putting up this route! 

In between the Indian Creek days we climbed around Moab for a couple of days. One rainy day we went to the Crackhouse, a perfect 25 meter hand crack, both wide and tight, in a cave with a crux at the lip. Also this one I could climb quickly. Great roof crack training place for when it rains!
Top out on The Crackhouse, out of the dark cave!

One day we went out towards the biggest roof crack I've ever seen, called 'Necronomicon' and is located in the white rim in Canyonlands. To get there we needed a 4x4 and even with this kind of rig it took us one and a half hours from Moab. Not the most accessible project for when you do not have a 4x4. The route was opened and only once climbed by Jean-Pierre Ouelette aka Peewee and is probably graded 8b+. Mason and I tried this route two times, but also Canyon, the young strong Moab kid who drove us out there, and LoLo gave it a try. The roof is 30 meters and the crux is close to the end. Tight hands and size .75 in a pure horizontal roof are not common and make it a very hard roof crack. The two tries that day I gave everything to work the moves, despite a lot of groaning I felt good about it. It's physical but still technical so I think this route would have been a nice project but because of the hard access we never got to return to Necronomicon again. This one I'll remember for a next trip out in the dessert. 

The last few days of my trip I wanted to find a harder route which would take me more then two tries to send. Talking to Mason about this he just said: 'Man, let's try Belly full of bad berries. That will take you more than two tries to send!' Only with three days left I thought this would be a little to hard for me because of my lack of offwidth experience. Which I thought would be crucial to have for climbing one of the harder offwidth climbs in the Creek, 15 to 20 meters of 45° steep offwidth nr. 5 camalot. Anyway, offwidth technique or not, three days before I left we went up there. Surprisingly on my first try the 'moves' went great and I made quick progress in an upwards direction! This climb is amazingly steep but short, still it feels long. Like every offwidth, progress you make slowly with a lot of effort, groaning, blood, tears, sweat and tape. In this climb the technique is to invert and climb with your feet first, slowly you shuffle your feet up and jam them in the crack. Next, you place a butterfly double hand jam and shuffle your feet further out. Repeat until death... or the anchor. To place a number 5 you just bad hang on both feet and place the cam. Crazy route! Unique!

My second try things went great and I fell off only two meters before the anchor. I definitely drove myself into the red. I placed the number five cam and before I could even clip it the fat crack had already spit me out of there, up side down! Enough for that day. The next day I climbed some finger cracks and gave my feet and body core some rest. On my last day I went back together with Mason, after some offwidth boulder warm-ups I went straight on Belly Full. Taping my hands, ankles and even the velcro of my Anasazi I was ready for the endurance fight. Quickly and percise I got up to the inverted part, threw my feet up and was on the offwidth road towards the anchor! Third go I did Belly full of bad Berries! I was as surprised as my belayer how quick it went! Thanks Mason for your encouragement, sometimes we need someone to push us to try harder routes!

Again I had an amazing time in the US, climbing cracks. Now I'm back in Belgium. Ready for some schoolwork and the exams, which are rolling up. Switching to work mode again, back to reality! Aauw! But also I'm ready for the new climbing projects that are coming up this summer. 

Thanks Mason, Ally, LoLo, Brent, Dr. Pang, Hayden and everybody else for the amazing trip! 

Here you can find a short list of some of the routes I've done this trip! All of them classics and superb:
- The Optimator 5.13- Long splitter .4 to .75 with changing corners.
- Pink Flamingo 5.13- Pure .5 to .75 splitter with some roofs
- Death of a Cowboy 5.13- Technical boulder
- Hidden Gem 5.13- Pure .4 to .75 splitter, slightly overhanging
- Generics 5.13- Technical faceclimbing
- Belly full of bad berries 5.13- Steep Offwidth

A great fire at the Creek!
Isn't Mr. Newman our King of Belgium?
The Crackhouse!
Team Chocolate-Burger on top of Devils Golfball!
Myself on Moab's Biggest Tricycle!
Full of tricks that guy: Backflip on an Arch… El Mashon...
The Book off the death again! 
Taping up the ankles for that 'Big Guy' behind me! 
Hidden Gem

Mason jamming on his banjo!
Canyon's Rig with some random gay...
Where's the old Navajo's 'Pink Flamingo'?
On a restday, Brent taught me how to get a chicken lay on its back in trance!!!!

woensdag 13 november 2013

Making my puzzle with new objectives

Vertical Jeep Trip - Kleisura - Greece
Back in Belgium… a chaotic puzzle? Or just a multitasking life?

I wake up… I think: ‘Should I go running or immediately make myself a porridge and drink a green thee’. With a sleepy face and my arms destroyed from training the day before I go to school and follow class, I come back home and I study or do some schoolwork, read papers and write some papers. During the afternoon or in the evening, I go training in my local gym with some friends, back to basic. In the weekends Freyr is calling, except for those days when nature decides to poor water from the top of Al’legne (main sector). Then there is the other thing about climbing, the planning. Planning new trips or expeditions. Hours I can spend reading books and searching the internet, what a luxury. Your next expedition might be right on the internet already…

This is how my life here in Belgium looks like since I came back from the ‘The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival’ in October. It was only four weeks ago, but it looks like ages. An amazing climbing festival it was; good atmosphere, fun people, great climbing, great weather and I could smell the motivation to climb in the air.

Vertical Jeep Trip - Kleisura - Greece 
One year ago I remember myself saying: ‘I would love to combine my climbing and travelling with higher studies but still go full on in both disciplines’. Now, one ‘try out’ year to reach the goal of developing my climbing and developing myself with knowledge and education in higher studies as a social worker past by and it worked out fine. Although it wasn’t the easiest task, in Belgium I managed to combine training and studying quite well. When I left Belgium in my (extended) school vacations I managed to go on some great trips and have a good time out climbing. Although I couldn't forget my studies and filled my rest days opening my school books. It’s not easy to combine both disciplines like this. Mentally I feel it can be heavy sometimes to be on the road a lot and still have a lot of duties back home. Switching from one world to the other can be tiring or confusing sometimes. But uh… what… am I complaining? NO!

But what am I actually saying then? I think it’s a thing of our time, it’s globalisation and the goal is to learn how to deal with the freedom and uncertainty we have. For example, a lot of us can choose to go study what they want and when they want, is that freedom or just scary? Maybe freedom, but on the other hand society expects us to make the right choices and perform to fit in its context, so sometimes pressure is on. All this freedom makes us sometimes hesitate about what we’re doing and what meaning we have, it’s the luxury problem of our time who brings a lot of questions. I guess it’s hard to deal with this much freedom, but if it works it’s a good thing. Or maybe stop thinking like this and follow your feelings and live in the present. :)

Training time… and time for new objectives

Chamonix - July 2013
Last winter I did some training in the climbing gym, I could feel progression but I felt I could do more with the basics of climbing I’ve in my body. This winter I decided to train a bit more seriously, so searched for a coach. I found it, for the moment I’m training together with Tijl Smitz in the climbing gym of Leuven. The first objective is to get some more strength and specific power. With a good basic fitness, specific power is the first thing I need to improve. This allows me to gain more resistance afterwards. So this winter will be a winter full of bouldering and some campus trainings.

DWS in Ha Long Bay - Vietnam 2013
Besides the specific climbing training with Tijl, I work together with a sport specialised osteopathy and physiotherapy centre near my hometown, ‘Groepspraktijk Vanden Auweele & Sportpraktijk’. These super nice specialists, Koen and Frigyes, are both fascinated with climbing and what climbing does with our bodies. For the moment I follow their program for stabilisation of the imbalances of my body, some fine treatment I would say. I would like to thank those guys already for there support!

I got several new goals in future that allow me to find the motivation to train. I also have to say that I’ve always had the training spirit. I don’t mind spending time in gym if needed, definitely not with some good objectives lying ahead. After my exams in January I will go to Spain to push my limits in sport climbing again. I feel I got more strength in my body then some years ago when sport climbing was the main goal. Now, I would like to see again what I could do and what my limits are again. It’s fun to push it sometimes! But still my main goal stays to climb hard cracks, this training period is an investment for the month of April when I will go back to the US to search for some fine and hard cracks back again! And yes… I think I’m not the only one when I say I’m looking forward to the next summer and am already busy planning a trip. The big dream is still there… getting out high in the mountains and see what kind of walls are possible there…

Wilder Kaisers - Austria
Petit Clocher du Portalet - Switzerland
Chamonix - Les Intouchables
Chamonix - July 2013

donderdag 10 oktober 2013

The 'The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival' - life!

Last days we prepared the last things of the new PROcompetition sector. The routes are clean, the quick draws are in! The routes are waiting to be climbed by the invited climbers. It's going to be a great spectacle. The special thing this year about the festival is the live streaming from the PRO sector!

People at home can follow the PROcompetition today (Thursday) from 11 am to 1pm and on saturday from 8 am to 1 pm.

To watch the festival life: go to thenorthfacejournal.com, planetmountain.com and 8a.nu


zaterdag 5 oktober 2013

Vertical Trip to Kalymnos with Jeep and The North Face

Written on the 2nd of oktober:
School only just started, my second year in university began and… I’m out of Belgium after two weeks already. This time I left Belgium for a really particular trip, a real road trip. A road trip through countries I’ve never been before with as destiny Kalymnos, the sport climbing paradise in Greece where I’ll join the The North Face Kalymnos Climbing Festival. 
The Vertical Trip supported by ‘Jeep’ started a couple of days ago in Bergamo, Italy. Together with Jacopo Larcher and a team existing out of a journalist, Manuela, of the magazine Marie Claire Italy, DJ Gross from DJ tv Italy and the crew of spiagames we’re crossing countries like Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece at the end.  In every country we tried to climb in one of its best climbing areas. Enjoy the pictures of Alberto Orlandi in this blogpost.

The first stop was Arco, Itay, the amazingly big sport climbing area near the Garda lake. Here we climbed our first day with good weather, a little humid but climbable! I managed to do a classic 8a+, Randa second go where after Jacopo did an athletic 8c, Athena which he tried two weeks before a couple of times!
Good start of the trip though! For me it’s also super motivating to climb with Jacopo, it pushes me a bit more to try harder routes! 
After Arco we drove towards Osp, Misja Pec in Slovenia where we climbed half a day in the big overhanging wall. Regardless the rain and thunderstorm we were able to climb on dry rock! Because of the long drives we still had to make we only climbed a couple of hours but it was worth it! I managed to do a short resistance 8b in my third go while Jacopo could do an 8b+ next to it. Both great lines and most of all… dry! To end with, Jacopo still managed to do the 8b I did, strong little Italian this guy!

With pain in my hart I have to write that this was the only climbing we’ve done so far. The following two days we drove and drove and drove… The third stop was Paklenica in Croatia with its famous multi pitch walls of 350 meters. With a lot of rain the big limestone walls were soaking wet, we made a little hike through the national park of Paklenca and studied the walls we could see. This is an amazing place to come back to and as I always say is… I will go back to it . 
So we drove on towards Smokovac, Montenegro. But again… No success, driving through the Balkan we had extreme rain every single minute. Waking up the next day we looked around and saw so many good rock but it was all wet. Smokovac is a limestone sport climbing area that is still underdeveloped.

The guidebook showed us 10 routes on every sector but it looks like a lot of classics and hard lines are still waiting to get bolted. Who’s up for it?
So on we went in the direction of Greece. That fourth day we crossed Albany, an underdeveloped country that is also still completely under construction. They are building houses everywhere and routes are still in construction. From driving 2 km at a speed of 100 km/h on asphalt you may expect to be driving on a dirt road at a speed of 20 km/h soon.

This went on for 700 kilometres, it was a long and epic drive through Albany. It’s amazing to travel like this, I opened my eyes and observed the life and the people like I never did. This trip made me psyched to once in life use my thumb and hitchhike through the Balkan to live the real Balkan life.

Now we’re on our way towards Kleisoura in Greece. For the moment the weather looks great, so today… we CLIMB!!!

Thanks for the pictures Alberto!
The next post follows soon... If you already want more stories and practice your italian, have a look on marieclaire.it

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