vrijdag 29 april 2011

Taking some Air!

Last week was quite a mixed week. The first few days after my last blog post it rained a lot and all the areas were pretty wet. So we took two days off. We all crawled in our cars and read our books. Another activity was to get all in my van and find as much gear placements as possible!

After two of those rest days we tried to climb a little, I did four routes but we needed to be selective with the lines we did. Some stuff was still wet and it can be dangerous to try hard stuff that is climbable but still too wet to place your gear safely. So we did some easy lines. The next night it rained the whole time nonstop, so for sure the routes where wet. So that following day we climbed in the late afternoon. I only did two lines, but I was happy to put my hands in some cracks! That same evening Tom and Mike arrived in the Creek. They’ve been in St George for about two weeks where they bouldered in Moe’s Valley. It was so great to see them back after only 3 weeks. I wish our future destinations were the same but unfortunately we have different plans. It was their first time in Indian Creek and also the first time they were going to climb some cracks with trad-gear.

The next day we all woke up with tons of sun in our dirty faces! Awesome, I was well rested and ready for a nice and long day of crack climbing! The motivation was high and the fingers and hands where healed. I went to ‘The Scarface Wall’ with Sam, Tom, Mike, Kevin and Liesel. Kevin and Liesel have already been climbing in Indian Creek for two weeks. I met them in Bishop a month and a half ago.
It was the first day for Mike and Tom to climb some cracks. First Liesel taught them how to make tape gloves like you see on one of the pictures. Pretty funny, I laughed a lot with Mike because before he could even tie his tape glove on his hand he dropped his construction of tape a couple of times in the sand. An hour later their hands where finally mummified and the torturing could begin! They tried some lines first on top rope before the trad-climbing challenge could begin.

I did two new 5.12-‘ses. They are both nice, thin and overhanging. The first one I did was ‘Not That Funny’. First, I had no idea where that name comes from, until I did the second 12- next to it. That line is called ‘Comic Relief’. It is a line with three roofs in a corner. It’s pretty funny to see people climbing that line because most of the time your scrunched up in the roof and you’re hands are moving blindly to come out of the roof! I did both of the lines. I needed three tries on ‘Comic Relief’ because I placed my last gear before the crux over the last roof where I needed to smear my foot afterwards. So I fell pretty funny trying to place my foot in the corner where the gear was. No problem, I loved to do the whole thing again five minutes after that second go.
Tom and Mike were dead tired (like everybody on their first day) from this first day of crack climbing. Like they said before they went to bed at nine pm; Everything hurts!

The next day I was even more exited to climb! Me, Kevin and Tom woke up at 7 am to go climbing at 8 am. We started so early because I was motivated to try ‘Air Swedin’ 5.13R again in the morning before it got too hot. With the song ‘Bad Boys’ of ‘Inner Circle’ blasting through the speakers of my van, all singing out loud, the day started!

We went up to the magic line. I put up a top rope on it reaching the chains from another line on the right. After Kevin and I tried ‘Air Swedin’ on top rope I gave it a go on lead with all the gear, ready to fly! While I climbed, Tom went up on a fixed line I prepared in the warm-up on the right to take some pictures.

The first part until the chains was going really well. It’s a nice splitter size .75 Black Diamond. At the chains of the first part (‘Swedin-Ringle’ 5.12-) I placed three pieces of gear size C3 #2 BD. This is a crack a little bit bigger than one centimeter. After placing that gear, when I was already a little bit pumped, I reached to the left slopy rail.

Then you go up for about 3 meters without placing any piece of gear. This three meter section is the crux. I fell there on my first lead try that day! The reason for not placing gear in that section is because it’s just too hard to place gear. The next piece you place is a C3 #0 BD, really small! To place this cam you need to do a tricky move, on top of that you place it without seeing the crack! It’s a blind placement, just hoping it’s good and clip it! After that the hardest part is over but it’s still tricky and scary. After that last C3 #0 BD you go up for 2.5 meters without placing gear until you can place a C3 #1 BD. Also pretty small gear. From then on you can start placing some bigger gear again! I fell once in the crux! It was really exciting, I was just so happy the gear placements stayed in the crack!

I’m glad there are some nice pictures of this climb. I’m definitely going to try that line again!
That afternoon I did two more easier lines and went to town in the evening with the whole group. After 1 month of cooking in my car, going out to a pizza restaurant all-you-can-eat was so luxury.

After 2 hours of dumping pizza in our stomach Tom, Mike and I went on a mission through Moab to sneak in one of the hotels’ hot tubs and swimming pools! At the first hotel we failed but at the second hotel I asked some people who were in the hot tub to let us in because we completely forgot our room key card! That worked easily! Just do the stupid Belgian thing: Me from Belgium! Me and friend forgotton key!

We could chill out the whole night in a nice hot tub! After that we went to the condo of Tom’s dad and his friends. It’s a house they rent for several days when they are in Moab. They are here to do some mountain biking.
This morning we took a nice and long shower at this place, we are all clean now! Feels really good! Or like Mike said when we first walked on the street all clean: Oh whaauw, this is crazy! I just want to dance right now!
You see what a shower can do for a dirt bag!

Enjoy the many pictures and check out Tom and Mike’s Vantasy!

Some crazy morning faces! I love it!

zaterdag 23 april 2011

First 5.12's!

The day after the last rest day we woke up in the morning after a rainy night. In the morning we decided with our group of loners to go out to canyon lands for another hike of 11 miles! We couldn’t really climb because of the wet sandstone. It was an awesome group activity on a nice windy rest day. Check out my new tourist shirt, only 3 dollars in the thrift store!
The day after that a was pretty tired of the hike through Canyonlands and of the sun that had hit my face all day. We went to the optimator wall where I tried ‘The Optimator’ (5.13-). This thing is pretty hard and 40 meters long. I might try it later on this trip in the Creek.

Our second day on we went to the tenderloins wall where I tried again the route of the wall named ‘Tenderloins’ (5.12). I did it on my second go! It is an awesome straight line. The first part goes through a pretty overhanging part and is size BD .5, so okey fingers for me and then it goes up for about 25 meters of size BD .75.
Those are all finger locks for me, finger locking is a pretty hard size but I’m getting pretty good at it! I like it a lot. Every line I try I learn a new style. So this was my first 5.12 and yesterday I did my second! I’m pretty psyched! I did ‘Slice and dice’ a nice .75 size crack through an overhanging section. I did this one also on my second go. I’m ready for some harder climbs!
The grading system in trad-climbing is completely different. There is no lettering system behind the numbers. It goes just from 5.7 up to 5.13, between all that you have +’ses and –‘ses. It’s nice they divided the grades like that because every route is so hand size dependent.

I climbed all the harder and smaller cracks with the new Supermocc’s that five Ten gave me! They are so great for size BD #1 and smaller, the tip of those shoes really get stuck into the smallest cracks if you place them well and twist hard!

I’ll be in Indian Creek for maybe 10 more days. This place is so big and I’ve still so much to climb and new area’s to see. Crack climbing is really a new style of climbing that motivates me so much again! I’m also very psyched for Yosemite to do some Big Walls with Florian Castagne who is coming for one month to the States to travel with me. I’m looking forward, it only gets better!

maandag 18 april 2011

Pain, technique, endurance and fun! Lot's of Fun!

I already spent two weeks in this beautiful Indian Creek! The first days it felt like I needed to start from zero again. Slowly I pushed the grades and tried harder routes with my meat hooks. The day before my last blog post I tried some 5.12’s on the fingers. I twisted my left middle finger to much in those thin cracks and he was a bit swollen. So the day after that rest day I had to take it easy and just did one big hand crack. It’s the same finger that I broke 5 years ago. I know what kind of pain it was then and it was exactly the same 5 days ago. I used some crazy cream called ‘Herbal Heat’. It’s a completely natural cream whit lot of arnica in it. It’s a cream made by two climbers who live in Bishop, they also make the skin repair cream ‘Sierra Salve’ that works really well! I’ve tried the ‘Herbal Heat’ in the evening, the next morning my finger wasn’t swollen at all. This cream really works a lot. It was still a sample but I hope they keep making this magic salve!

After that day I took another rest day and went hiking on my own in Canyon Lands. I hiked about 10 miles (16,09km) in the afternoon. This was one of the best hikes I ever made. The view is amazing, just check out the pictures.

Then last Friday I went climbing again! I was completely rested a super psyched to crush those cracks (and my hands). That day I did my first 5.12-. It was an amazing hand-crack corner that goes through a roof at the end! This line is called ‘T-bones Tonight’ and located on the second Meat wall. The first 17 meters the crack is pretty small and easier with small hands.
I laid it back until where it was size number two BD Camelot where I could jam my big hands in! The roof was size number three BD Camelot what was still a really good size for me. I love this kind of big hand cracks through a roof. I fell on my on sight in the roof and did it second go afterwards. I was even more psyched to climb after that day!

Next day I had an easy day again to rest my finger a little bit. The high point of the day was when I did ‘Fist Fuck’, a long overhanging 5.11 with a roof on fists (for normal people). There are not that many people that try this one because fist cracks aren’t very popular! The funny thing was that I did it with only one fist. Al the other moves I just jammed with my big hands, sometimes I had to use cupped hands.

Yesterday I went climbing with Joe, a local here who lives in Moab. This was really nice, we went really early and he took me on some hard climbs! I did my second 5.12- named ‘Swedin- Ringle’ I did it also second go. First go I fell on the anchors. This is one of the best lines I’ve climbed here, although it is a hard size for me. It is size number one Camelot, what is really good for people with small hands. I learned in this line how to place proper ring-locks with my fingers. I really love it, I start learning how to jam different sizes and I can flow through some nice lines now. The crux is clipping the anchors with a left hand finger-lock and the tips of your toes jammed in the small crack.

I also tried the second part of this line on top-rope, this is called ‘Air Swedin’. The name tells what it is all about. After the anchors of the first part, which you don’t clip, you place two or three small Camelot’s size .4 and .5 and you go into a small crack with you right hand and a slopy rail with your left hand. You go up about 2 or 3 meters above your last piece of gear and that’s the crux. The grade of this awesome line is 5.13R. The R means that it’s pretty dangerous. But it’s still better then the X (= chance to die).
I’m really psyched about this line, I really think I can do it! Just get some bigger balls and go up high!I learned so much about crack climbing last two weeks here. Every crack is so different and always such a different style depending of the size. The most important thing I learned is that the grades aren’t saying much. Everything is depending of the size of your hands. If you have big hands a fist crack will be good and a thing finger-crack will be the hardest struggle ever (I already experienced)! I saw good crack climbers struggling on ‘Fist Fuck’, only 5.11, just because they have small hands. So what I need to do right now is searching for a nice crack on my limit that fits my size! And then I’ll do the opposite, I’ll search a hard line that isn’t my hand/finger size at all!

By now there are a lot of people I now here in the creek. We are with a nice group of people now that are here on their own to. Having a lot of fun. Climbing wise I think this is my favorite spot until now! It’s big here with so many beautiful lines! I’m also psyched to try an off width. An off width is a crack larger than a fist-size crack and smaller then a chimney. I hope to have some pictures of some off width climbing by next week.

When I was in Bishop, Five Ten US had sent me some crack climbing shoes that I’m trying out right now. It’s the new Moccasim, called SuperMocc. It’s basically the same but the SuperMocc is a little bit thinner on the tip and has extra rubber on top. I love those shoes for cracks size thin hands and smaller! Smearing is great to because of their flat and wide surface!

Enjoy the pictures and keep following my blog!

This is a little list from what I did until now:
Date: Grade: Name:
6/04/2011 5.9 Twin Cracks

Try 5.10 No name crack

5.10 Keyhole Flakes
7/04/2011 5.9 Unknown

5.9 Spam

5.10- Wavy Gravy

5,10+ Dirt Cheap

5.10 Where is carruthers?
8/04/2011 5.10- Generic Crack

5.10+ Unnamed

5.10 The naked and the dead

5.11 Right of the naked and the dead
9/04/2011 Rest
10/04/2011 5.10 Unnamed

5.10 Cube Steaks

5.11- Meat Machine

5.11+ Meat ya later
11/04/2011 5.8 Unnamed

5.11 Power Play

5.11 Power paws

5.11+ Unnamed

5.11+ Electric

5.11+ Tip Layback
12/04/2011 Rest
13/04/2011 5.10+ Hay U Take
14/04/2011 Rest
15/04/2011 5.10+ Tube steakes tomorrow

5.11- At Your Cervix

5,12- T-bones Tonight
16/04/2011 5.11 Fist Fuck

5.11- Unnamed
17/04/2011 5.11 Three strikes You're out

5.12- Swedin-Ringle

5.11- Think Pink

dinsdag 12 april 2011

One line world!

Long time ago! A week ago I arrived in Indian creek, Utah. Because the nearest city is Moab and is still one hour drive away from Indian Creek, this is the first time I can use the internet.

I need to make it short because of a lack of time, belief it or not!

After leaving my good friends, Tom and Mike, behind in Bishop I got in my car for a 12 hour drive to Indian Creek. I did it in two days because it’s a bit safer when you drive alone.

Once I arrived in Indian Creek I was just blown away and so impressed about the nature and the environment. I think one of my favorite places in nature is the dessert, it’s just so silent and peaceful!

I climbed first three days on and then two days on. Hard! I’m really tired now and my hands are completely destroyed! But I like the crack climbing so I don’t care about pain now!

I love crack climbing, it’s more than always the same moves. There is more variety in crack climbing then you would think. The first day I tried a 5.10 hand crack of 40 meters long. I fell a couple of times and had a hard time! Grades are a different thing in crack climbing compared to sport climbing. It’s way harder. By now I already did some harder cracks and real finger cracks! I love it, it only hurts. Every day my hands and fingers are swollen. I tried a nice thin hands to finger crack called ‘Power Line’ 5.12. It was pretty hard, I need to be a little more experienced to be able to do that crack.

Yesterday I did a couple of 5.11’s and 5.11+’es. Hard day. Slowly I’m pushing the limit. I feel I’m already jamming pretty well when I find a nice big hands crack. Everything depends of the crack size, I have really big hands so a lot of the thin hand cracks and finger cracks are really difficult with my giant meatball hands (like they call them)!

I don’t have much time any more so the closer experience of crack climbing I’ll tell you on my next blog post in a couple of days!

See y’all

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