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 cafĂ© 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!

zondag 3 juli 2011

Trout Creek Belgian style - Index is going French

So! How was Trout Creek?
I’ll just say it was an amazing, quite and inspiring climbing area that reminded me a little to Indian Creek (what is still my favorite spot of my trip!).
The evening of our rest day we arrived in Trout Creek where we illegally slept between some trees near an expensive fisherman’s campground. Trout Creek is in the middle of nowhere but still there are a lot of people in the small valley. All those people are old fishermen. It’s a famous place for the fishing sport. But no worries, the climbing area is far away from the river and high up.
The morning after our arrival we left as early as our bodies wanted to up to the crag. We went early to climb in the shade until 2pm. The hike is steep and hot! Completely melted we arrived at the paradise of splitters and stemming lines! Without a guidebook we looked for the nicest looking splitters and jumped on them. We did a perfect #2 BD size splitter to start. This was the first real splitter Florian did what is really intimidating in the beginning. Definitely as us Europeans who don’t know how to jam properly. But now we can! It’s almost as perfect as Indian Creek. We did a couple of other splitters and stemming lines. One line is called ‘The Space Between’ where you just stem between two walls with on the left and right a crack. Really weird style to get used to. We did as much as possible before the sun made the wall like an oven. After 2 pm we baked a little in the sun and walked back to the car.
Back at the car I took my scissors, put it in Flo’s hands and said: ‘Fuck man! I’m sick of this woman hair, I feel like a bitch! Please cut it off!’ (Maybe a little exaggerated) Flo first made me some dreads and then he trimmed my doggy head!

Then next day we woke up early again to enjoy the shady climbing. This time we tried some harder stuff. First we did a nice corner 5.12-, ‘Alchemy’ on top rope, hereafter I lead it to the top. As second hard line we tried ‘Winter Sustenance’, 5.12 on top rope and after that I tried it again on lead. I couldn’t do this one and after that one lead try our shady time was over.

Too bad Flo had to leave 2 days after that last Trout climbing day because we were just getting used to the style. I could stay at least 5 more days in that place. It’s not a big climbing area, but it is really interesting and technical.
There is a high quantity of thin and hard cracks, even projects! It’s also really quite and the nature around is beautiful and peaceful.

When we left Trout Creek that afternoon we went towards Portland where we slept on a crowded Wall-mart parking lot. The next day we visited Portland a little bit but we weren’t impressed by the city. There are a lot of poor people on the streets and all kinds of different subcultures. We decided not to stay there to long and went further up north towards Seattle. We slept 1.5 hours South of Seattle because we didn’t want to sleep in a big city again! It’s a real shock sometimes to hang around in a packed city after living in nature for so long.

Florian’s last day started and we went up to Seattle where we visited the city. Seattle is pretty big and also really crowded. It’s a real typical American city how we Europeans imagine it. Stressed people running around with suitcases to get on the bus, spilling there coffee all over there suits! Typically! But it also has his charms and can be an acceptable place to hang out.

The next morning really early I dropped Florian off at the airport! Was a weird feeling after chairing a Van with him for a month. I had a really good time climbing in the states with someone I know. Definitely doing big walls was handy and lots of fun with Flo!

After I dropped Flo off I went to pick up another French speaking guy. But these time not a Belgian but a Frenchmen! I met the Frenchmen, Mathieu Mercier, in Zion almost 2 months ago. He climbed there with his partner, Nicolas AndrĂ©, who is injured now. So they decided to separate there ways and Mathieu contacted me to climb with me in Index and Squamish. After I picked Mat up in Seattle we went straight towards Index. Index is an hour east of Seattle. We arrived in Index in really rainy and shitty weather so we went on to Leavenworth an extra hour more to the east. Leavenworth was dry and sunny. We climbed there the next day but didn’t really like it. It’s really blocky and loose granite without much real splitters. But I’m talking just about the one area where we climbed that one day. There is probably better stuff to.

We checked the weather that evening and saw that it was going to be sunny in Index so we drove there immediately that next evening. Index is a little town in nowhere with a big river running through it and some nice granite walls on the side. This town is mostly living from the water sports like rafting and kayaking. The climbing is still not so popular yet although it is high quality granite here! You can even compare it with Yosemite but smaller. Because of the rainy weather here almost all year long, the rock is in some places really mossy but apparently during the summer it cleans up pretty fast. The granite is really solid and not much of it will break, I like that!

We climbed two days in Index now and I’m a big fan! The rock is good, a lot of hard stuff, and some different styles if you want to. We did some of the classic lines last two days to get used to the style. The grades are comparable with the hard grades of Smith Rock. This is definitely not a beginner area! It’s really hard and technical. We got our as kicked by 5.11b’s who are in Europe for shore 5.12b! And don’t forget that I’m talking about trad climbing! So grades are already harder!

The last days’s we met some local climbers and kayakers and have been hanging out with them. Yesterday we went to a local party so today is a rest day for shore! We even have to rest because of the rain today. Tomorrow it’s going to be good and sunny again!

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