woensdag 9 november 2011

New Climbing Blog layout!

On my last trip in the US my blog had a lot of views from all over the world so I decided to write everything in English. You can also notice an amazing change in this blog and the layout of it. My blog coordinator Herman Desmet made it more practical with more options but still as easy as the last version of the blog.
New things are the map where you can find all the places I’ve been, my realizations for people who are interested, the most popular post and some media. To have a better overview of the news, the home page shows only the first couple of sentences of the post. To read more you can click on the post.

I want to thank Herman Desmet for his nice work! Now my blog is ready for the next project!


Siebe Vanhee

Finding a way!

What to do when you’re a motivated climber in Belgium? I’m still searching for the solution, but I’m close.

Now I’m about three months and a half back in Belgium and this blog post will be more optimistic as the last one! I’m living in a little house with another climber near Leuven. I’m working for Greenpeace and doing some route setting in climbing gyms to earn some money for my next project, I’ll need it!
In the mean while I’m training a little in gym and climbing as much as I can outside; Freyr, Ettringen and Pfalz. To train more specifically for my next project I go running a little and try to go to trad-climbing areas.

Last week I’ve been three days in Freyr (Belgium’s famous vertical sport climbing crag) and three days in the Pfalz (Trad climbing in Germany).
Freyr is some good grey limestone sport climbing. But still I couldn’t leave my cams home! I heard that Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll and Mich Zaman climbed ’13 Boulevard du Vol’, 8a on cams so I had to give it a try to! Togheter with Klaas Willems I went to Freyr with a bigger backpack as usual. It didn’t took me to much try’s, after one try searching for the good cam placements in this quite solid limestone I did the only 8a traditional route in Freyr. Funky! "2 bovenste foto's: Bram Lambrechts"

After that good start of a little week trip, Klaas and I left towards the Pfalz, Germany. The Pfalz is a big climbing area with lots of little crags apart from each other. The sandstone towers or walls are mostly about 40 – 50 meters high. There is a lot of trad-climbing but also some sport. The trad-climbing there is not so hard but really beautiful. If you’ve never climbed trad on sandstone, this is a really nice place to learn it! The atmosphere of the fall with the beautiful trees and the red – brownish sandstone is amazing. After three days of climbing there the humidity was pretty high so we decided to go back towards Freyr!

Our fifth day climbing in a row happened on the small edges in Freyr! Again a beautiful fall day showed us some nice and peaceful nature! Even at the end of November the main wall can be to hot in the sun. But still I decided to try an old project back again: ‘Schwarzenegger’, the classic 8a in Freyr. I was really surprised when I did it first try of the day while hanging the quickdraws. Hanging those quickdraws is no problem compared to searching a while where to place witch size of cam!

Schwarzenegger: "Foto Werner Van Steen - Alpitec/Petzl Benelux"

That same day we returned back home where I rested a day and went running. The next day I returned again towards Freyr to do some more vertical edgy sport climbing. This time I brought my girlfriend with me who started to climb one month ago! Nice! Because of the nice Sunday a lot of Belgium climbers were hanging around on this amazing limestone wall. So the good atmosphere was already there. It was a misty and a little bit humid day in Freyr but we couldn’t complain much.
Again I did some good performances, really unexpected. I climbed ‘Banegger’, 8a on sight, although the first part of it because the second part I already climbed with Schwarzenegger. This was really amazing, I love the technical art of Freyr! When I came down from Banegger I looked at ‘Bayou Minou’, 8a+, the same start as Banegger but another end. When I came down I rested a little and did it first go! I was so surprised, I’m sure it was the good atmosphere and vibes of a nice November Sunday in Freyr.

So this is my way of combining climbing and real life for the moment! It works pretty well!
The 24th of January I’m leaving for an amazing project far away again! I’m still not going to say what it will be!

Keep on rocking and find a way!

donderdag 1 september 2011


Almost two weeks back in Belgium! I felt lost in reality, back in this materialistic world. I had a hard time adjusting to this way of living here, harder then when I arrived in the States. I could only see negative things about the life back here. Soon I realized that this was according to the good life I had in the US. One of the biggest reasons why I had such a hard time coming back is because of the lack of structure in my life right now. I arrived back in Belgium without goal, without future plans but with experience! After two weeks of adjusting (seeing friends) and planning the future I found kind of a plan.

So right now I will start working and following evening school Spanish for about 5 months and then I’ll go on a trip again. I don’t know where yet but it will be some Big Wall climbing.

I did not feel ready to study yet. I feel that I need to take my time to find a subject in my life besides climbing where I’m really interested in. If I was going to study right now, I know it would be just because of the society who’s pushing it to follow the regular pattern. I will study, but only when I feel motivated and when I found an interesting subject.

In those next few months I will be working and still climbing! My condition is amazing right now and I don’t want to lose it. I’ll make a couple of trips to Peak District (England), Etringen (Germany) and more. And of course I will be hanging in the Belgian local crack Freyr to do some hard face sportclimbing!

maandag 22 augustus 2011

From 3400 meters back to 0!

Written on the 19th of august:

I still know the moment I was arriving in the United States once. Time goes and doesn’t stop.
One week ago I was hanging at 3400 meters high on a mountain in The Bugaboos, Northern BC in Canada. Right now I’m sitting between all kind of different people in gate C3 in Washington Dulles waiting for the plane that is going to bring me back to Belgium!

My perfect road trip through the US has come to an end. But for me, a new perspective on the world we live in has just started. New plans and goals are coming, self-consciousness and self- knowledge I won. This trip was an impressive experience and unforgettable. I highly recommend young climbers this kind of experience you can find in different kind of ways. For me the main factor is travelling on your own and experiencing everything by yourself, bad and good things. For me the bad things in those seven months turned always out in good things. Is it luck? … Karma? … Coincidence? Or is it just always like that? Who knows!

The Bugaboos

Written on the 22th of august in Nieuwrode, nearby Leuven, nearby Brussels in Belgium in Europe:

The last week of my trip I went towards the Bugaboos with Mike Martinson. The Bugaboos is a world class Alpine climbing area. The weather is not all the time very good but me and Mike where kind of lucky! The base camp (Appelbee campsite) is a 4 hour hike steep uphill. Most of the climbers camp on this flat rock area although climbers have also the option to overnight in the Kain Hut where you need to pay 25 dollars a night.
We’ve spent 4 climbing days in the Bugaboos. The first day was an easy day when we did ‘Mec Tec Arrête’. When we arrived on top of this 6 pitch classic a thunderstorm came in and threw tons of big balls of hail on our heads. We raped down and ran to camp where we saw our tent (only outside tarp) full of hail on the inside. No climbing for that day anymore.

The next day we climbed the ultra classic ‘Sunshine Crack’ on the Snowpatch. This is really an amazing climb and we were lucky because there was nobody in front of us. I linked the upper two pitches, who are really amazing! The second last pitch is the real Sunshine Crack, it’s a #3 to #4 BD Camelot size. I climbed the pitch with only two #3 and one #4 and I never bumped a piece up with me. So … run outs in da house!

Our third day we decided to go and climb over the Snowpatch col to see some more spires in the Bugaboos. We past the Pigeon spire, saw the backside of the Howser towers, the Minaret and the Pigeon Feathers. We walked for about 3 hours through the snow when we arrived at the Feathers where we did ‘Fingerberry Jam’, 5.12-. It’s a short climb of 6 pitches on the Fingerberry jam tower at the Feathers. This is one of the best climbs of my trip! The first two pitches are 5.11 where you follow flaky cracks on a face and stemming moves in a stem box! The third crack is the 5.12- where you follow it to the point the crack gets to narrow to climb. Then you make a hard face traverse to the left to another crack you follow to the top of that pitch. I fell in the traverse and figured out the moves after a couple of tries. Suddenly a realized that I probably was traversing to high when I saw an easier way 3 meters lower. The traverse I was trying was probably a little harder cause of its sideways dyno to the other crack!

After the 4th pitch, 5.10 beautiful corner, we decided to go down and rap the route because of the last two pitches that didn’t look as good, they looked really chossy. We rapped down also for another reason, apparently the rap of the top was hard to find and you need to leave lots of gear. That’s what we heard from another party on there before.
Use a double rope to rap off the route itself and take maybe some extra webbing. The anchors are some fixed gear. We left a shitty carabineer and a piece of webbing.

Left picture: Me and the Sunshine crack in the back!

Because our next goal was the ‘Becky Chouinard’ on the South Howser Tower we left our gear that evening for the next day at East Basin camp. Then we walked all the way back towards Appelbee campside. At 10:30pm we went to bed and we woke up the next day at 4:30am to do the hike a third time towards the South Howser Tower. At 9am we arrived at the base of the Becky Chouinard, we were already exhausted after three climbing days and all the hiking. A big long route of 20 pitches was still waiting on us. The first 3 pitches we simul (how do you write this word?) climbed. The pitches are very easy so everything goes pretty fast. The climbing of the whole route is nice but the reason why the route is so popular is because it’s a nice and exposed easy climb and it goes all the way to the top of the South Howser. We arrived at the top when it was getting dark. We found the rap station on time to do the 11 raps to go off the Tower. Those we did in the dark with a nice amount of moonlight of the full moon, beautiful! We arrived back at camp at 1am! This was a hard 4th day in a row, that’s the reason we decided not to climb the next day! We made the decision to pack all our stuff up and go for the hike down towards the car. We left the Bugaboos completely wrecked on Sunday and did the drive back to Squamish on two days. This was the last bit of climbing of my seven months trip and it was amazing!!!

This Bugaboos trip was the first time I did some alpine climbing and I really like it! The long snowy approaches are hard in the beginning when you’re not used to them. It was the first time I walked like that through the snow and over cols with ice axes and crampons! New experience and en amazing time! I’ll definitely do this again!

When we arrived back in Squamish I cleaned up my car and left the next day towards Seattle. There I could stay with Hannah who I met in Indian Creek! Thanks for that Hannah!
In those last 3 days in Seattle I sold the Van. I had some stress at the end because of the buyer who hesitated at the last second to buy the car or not. I gave her a day of thinking and then she decided to buy the Van! I was pretty happy with her decision! Otherwise I was definitely going back to the states in a couple of months! Not a bad thing!

Now I’m in Belgium with a nice jetlag and a head full of questions and thoughts about what next in live! This is the first time I’m really without a plan. I’m pretty excited to find a way to do some kind of small study to do in combination with some work here in Belgium. New climbing trips are also flying around in my head but that I still keep for myself!

Moonlight over the Appelbee camping with under the moon a lightning storm on the other side of the mountains!

Me in the hail-storm walking back to camp

vrijdag 5 augustus 2011

Am I really Cobrasexual?

Only 12 days left! It’s really not long anymore! I’m pretty sad to think about it but it is the truth! The plan was to go to the Bugaboos but Mike and I are hesitating about it. Finally the weather here in Squamish is stable, nice and sunny. Compared to the weather in the Bugaboos where it is really snowy and rainy. Mike and I are also both psyched on Squamish for the moment so we are not feeling like leaving for the moment.

Last couple of days I did some random climbing. I tried El ChupaCobra again one day with Mason and yesterday with Alex Honnold. Both really inspiring climbing partners! Mason had again a really good try up to the last move where he fell, he is getting really close and I’m excited for him sending The Cobra! He took two rest days and is going up today to give it the final try! I’m excited for him!

Yesterday I warmed up in ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’ with the Petzl mini-traction. This time I tried to climb as fast as possible! I did the 5 long pitches in 40 minutes! This is a really good training. In the afternoon I did the 45 minutes hike to the Cobra again, this time with Alex who hasn’t tried the line in a year. I gave it a really good top rope burn with only 3 hangs! So exciting.
After that Alex gave it a lead burn with me yelling beta at him. His reason of starting to lead was to maybe send it and bitch about it to Mason! The good old competitive friends! He didn’t send it as expected because he hasn’t tried it for a year! After that I gave it another burn and this time on lead! It went pretty well but in the first crux I fell and ended up with a huge flapper on my pointer finger. Fuck! I hate my skin and it has been a problem for so long already! The Cobra Crack you only can try once or twice a day because it’s so pain full for the joints of your fingers as well as the skin! After every day trying this project my fingers are swollen as hell and I need a day off to recover just those joints!

I have been hanging out with Dean Potter as well. Really interesting personality! Dean also gave the cobra a try but he thinks of giving it some more time before fully trying it. Now I compared my hands with Dean’s and Alex’s and it turned out I really have big fingers and hands! Fuck! The cobra is really finger size dependent and is a real struggle with bigger fingers. But yeah, no worries just a little more challenging! I discovered in this line how strong my middle finger is. I take the mono with just the first knuckle in and I’m able to completely pull on it! So exciting! Yesterday I could link all those crux moves really good!

Now I have to wait until my skin heals! Fuck!

I’ll probably go bouldering a little to get some strength back, because I lost a lot of pure power!

Here some pictures of Horn Lake to give an example of the climbing.

zondag 31 juli 2011

El Cobra!!!

Slowly everything is coming together at the end of my trip. I found a buyer for my van; I got Ice axes, crampons and boots for the Bugaboos (Thanks Fred) and I’m climbing some awesome climbs here in Squamish! After playing around in Zombie Roof I took a rest day followed by a hard and interesting day on the backside of the Chief.

Finally I tried the Cobra Crack on the backside of the chief! This line is so impressive, one of the most esthetic lines I’ve ever seen in my live! It’s amazing that Squamish has one of the best sport climbs (Dreamcatcher) and one of the best trad climbs (Cobra Crack) in the world! I went up there with Mason Earle, a good crack climber from Colorado. He worked ‘Die Kobra Krakke’ already for 3 seasons and has the entire beta dialed! That day we went up there mason fell at the really last move; he’s getting close to beat that snake up! I tried it twice on top rope and could do all the moves. I had to take a couple of rest but it worked! I really felt pretty good in it except for the painful joints from all the small finger locks! Too bad I’m leaving soon; I might plan a next trip for this amazing line!

The day after I did ‘The Feather’, an amazing 5.11d of 5 pitches. I did this one with Mike, the guy where I’m going with to the Bugaboos. It was lots of fun and will be good at the Bugs for shore too!Today we are waiting for the rock to dry and this afternoon I’m going up to the backside again with Mason! I’m excited!

donderdag 28 juli 2011

It was ..... Zombie roof!!!

It’s been a while. But here it is again! A new blog post with tons of positive energy!
During the rainy days we climbed two days at Cheakamus, the sport climbing area between Squamish and Whistler.
After the rain it was clouded for 3 days where I did a handful of easier cragging and also a nice fixed rope solo. In one hour I went up 6 pitches of ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’ with the Petzl Mini Traction on some fixed ropes they used to clean the climb! It is amazing to climb alone on a wall that high but still save. The only thing you have is harness, shoes, Petzl mini traction and a grigri to rappel off.

A week ago Matthieu the French guy left the States and went back home. So now I’m back to looking for climbing partners. What is not difficult here in Squamish, social climbing Mecca of the lonely climbers!

The day after Matthieu left I left Squamish with an American girl (Holly), an Austrian girl (Nina) and a Canadian GUY (Nick)! We left earth for a while to go climbing on Vancouver Island for about two days! This because of the rain in Squamish. We went to ‘Horn Lake’, a small limestone sport climbing area. The big cave is really overhanging and reminded me to a mixture of Rifle and Rodellar. There were some tufa’s but not as many as in Rodellar. I did a couple of nice 12’s there and one 5.13c (8a+) trough a big roof! Amazing and interesting climb! It felt good again to do some sport climbing. I see that the sport climbing strength returns pretty fast!

Since we’re back in Squamish I climbed a lot, a lot of hard meters! The first day I returned back towards ‘The flight of the Challenger’, hard 5.12c trad! Without any expectations I gave this beautiful line another try! I only tried it once more than a week ago. This time I returned fresh with the right gear. I did it that try with a good fight and some nasty screams! Trad-climbing is so scary sometimes, but so satisfying! I was really happy and felt ready for another hard single pitch!

Yesterday the clouds were there again but without rain! They brought some wind and sending time with them! I found a belay buddy for the whole day (Thanks Holly) and went to ‘Zombie Roof’, 5.13a crack in a roof! The first try was all about finding beta in this weird featured roof crack. The movements are power full on hand jams and finger locks. The gear is good but takes power to place! The crux is at the end to come out of the roof, where I fell twice. I did it on my 4th go leading and placing the gear! Amazing! I’m so excited to try more and harder!

I only have a little less than a month to go here in the States and Canada so I’m enjoying as much as I can! The 5th of august I’m going with Mike Martinson towards the Bugaboos for the rest of my trip. Now I’m still stressing and searching for some crampons, ice axes and other gear I need for the cold weather! I hope I find a way Five Ten and Beal can support me with new shoes and ropes what I really need.

I’m excited to try out some alpine climbing and doing some big walls on high altitude.

I’ll keep you up to date!

woensdag 27 juli 2011

Zzzzzombie ... Ro.....

Hang On!

New blogpost is coming!

zaterdag 16 juli 2011

Good atmosphere is keeping us 'dry'!

Sitting in the Squamish Adventure Center with a bunch of climbers next to a big window that looks out on the Chief! Beautiful you’ll thing but not when it’s raining. Definitely not when it’s already raining for four days.

After our last day up at ‘U-wall’ we took a long rest day, preparing for another 5.12 multi-pitch the next day. We went up ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’. This is an impressive line of 7 pitches at ‘The Dihedrals.’ After talking with some local guy we heard that this line hasn’t been done in 7 years. Luckily some other locals just cleaned the first 5 pitches that are the best and hardest. The two crux pitches are a thin long crack (5.12a) followed by a short bouldery 5.12b with 7 bolts. Amazing I’ll say! The thin crack is going on for so long and demands a lot of footwork. The short pitch that follows is really boulder and in the beginning a little scary because you can easily fall on your belay buddy! Right: Matt in the 5.12b following
I fell leading the short pitch but I’m shore next time it’ll work. All the other pitches are really long, obvious and natural. Great day!

The next day I did some cragging trad-climbing with Sam Van Den Driessche. He is here since 3 weeks with Tim De Dobbeleer, they are both traveling in US and Canada for 3 months!
Me and Sam went to Murrin Park and climbed at Nightmare Rock and Petrifying Wall. At nightmare rock I did some classic 5.12’s, one really nice small finger crack (Century Box). This was the first time I did a move off only my pinky! So nice! It’s really small and better with small fingers. It’s a famous climb for girls and I can understand that.
Afterwards we went towards the Petrifying wall where we tried ‘Flight of the Challenger’, 5.12c. This is an amazing line through an overhang that ends in a slab flared crack you can walk/balance on. This is the hardest part because of placing the gear! I only tried it once and I’m definitely trying it again if it’s dry!

Above: 'Flight of a Challenger'

Next day was a rainy rest day so I made some crazy American pancakes in my Van the whole day! Getting fat on rest days, that’s the key to a successful rest day!

The two last days we climbed with 30 people in Cheakamus, the sport climbing area between Squamish and Whistler. There we could climb well for two days but it isn’t trad climbing ey! I did almost all the 5.12 and 13’s at the Circus and did one nice 13c (8a+) on the Big show! The Big Show is a big overhang with a couple of hard, long routes! Really nice for a rainy day.

Except for the rain this place is still one of my favorite places of my trip. The campsite is perfect because all climbers are together every morning and evening. After 3 days you know a lot of new interesting people. Squamish is one of the most social and fun climbing areas I’ve been. This social aspect here in Squamish makes me stay here even in the rain.

Left: 'The Big Show'

For the moment the SMF (Squamish Mountain Festival) is going on this week and I already went to some presentations. Tonight the SMF party is going on and I’ll definitely be there with lots of other climbers/friends! I’m ready to party!

This blogpost is written while listening to: DJ Cam => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WM2wW_oNXRc&feature=related

zondag 10 juli 2011

Back in Squamish! Feels great!

We spent three more days in Index before we went to Squamish! After that last rest day we climbed some more classic pitches at the lower and upper wall. The last day we climbed in the
morning and did some rafting in the afternoon!

The rafting was amazing! Because we spent a lot of time in the ‘River house’, the café with all the rafting people, we made a lot of friends over there. The kayakers and rafters are all really nice and friendly. They have a mentality really similar to a climber’s mentality. At the end we knew everybody in the little village, every kayaker and guides! They gave us an offer to do some rafting for a good price, so we took that chance! Our guide was our good friend Pat who gave us a pretty funny rafting tour. The guides told us that the river was extremely high because of the wet spring this year. It was almost a 5th class river and it was quite hard for beginners! That’s why we also flipped our raft in the hard part, called Boulder Drop. There are some really nice pictures. At the one below you can see me hanging on the vertical boat trying to save someone else while we all were capsizing. So the saving didn’t work very well! Those pictures made a good ambiance at the bar that same night.

The next day we left to Squamish. The weather seemed good there so we where psyched to change place again. We climbed two amazing days here in Squamish! It also feels really good to be back in a big climbing area with a lot of people I know from my trip the last few months. I keep on meeting people who know good friends of mine. Squamish is a great area for social contacts. The camping is really fun and social because everyone is eating and chilling together at the same place. After two weeks of climbing in smaller climbing areas with less people it feels good to see so many climbers again! Squamish = good atmosphere!

So our first day here we did a route of 10 pitches called ‘The Northern Lights’, 5.12a. This is a combination of the first 5 pitches, ‘Alaska highway’ (5.11d) and the last 5 pitches, ‘The Calling’ (5.12a). This is by far one of the best lines I did on my trip; I really enjoyed the perfect splitters and corners! Like this perfect corner ( on the picture left! There are lots of structures and different dimensions; I think this is typical for Squamish. You need to look around you and use so many different crack climbing styles in this one route! I on sighted everything free and we made it good to the top.

Yesterday we went up ‘The University wall’; this is the most known multi-pitch in Squamish of his grade (5.12a). This is one of the hard older classics here, a real test piece! Because of the rain last weeks the route was still a little wet. The first two pitches (5.12a) where actually really wet. I on sighted the first pitch, even through the wet part. The second pitch I followed but I fell at the end, really strenuous and the hard layback was also pretty wet. From then on we did a good job to the top. This is a really beautiful line but I think it was still a little bit dirty at the top because we are still early in the season.

It feels good to be in a place I already know for once. It makes some things easier and more acceptable if you’re on the road for a long time. A week ago I had a hard time being on the road because it’s getting long right now. But now here in Squamish it’s going well and the motivation is coming back. It's also nice to come back to the same place where I learned how to place gear! Exactly one year ago I asked Fabian Schillings (The cool German) how to place gear in cracks!!!

Today we had to rest because the muscles where sick of working. The weather forecast isn’t so good for the following days, but I hope we find a way to climb somewhere!

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