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 ArrĂȘte’. 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.

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