woensdag 21 november 2012

Big Ass Jungle Climbing - After Summer 2012

This weekend I will present a first screening of the movie 'Big Ass Jungle Climbing' at the After Summer 2012, an outdoor event of KFB (Klim- en Bergsportfederatie). The event will take place in CC ter Dilft in Bornem the 24th of November. My presentation will start at 13h30 and end at 14u30.

 Enjoy this little trailer.
Trailer - Big Ass Jungle Climbing from Siebe Vanhee on Vimeo.

If you can't come all the way to far away Bornem, Antwerp, no worries. I will give a tour the third week of February with a presentation of all my trips and experiences of the last few years. I will share pictures, movies and good stories together with Petzl in different places in Belgium and the Netherlands. Soon there will be more information.

Thanks everybody

dinsdag 4 september 2012

Sending 'Greenspit' - The famous 8b roof crack in Italy

'Greenspit' - Valle dell'Orco
The last two weeks of August I left together with Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll on a little trip in Switzerland and Italy. First we planned to go immediately towards the amazing Orco valley in Italy where I was before. But due to an awful heat of 40°C in the valley we planned to climb a couple of days in Switzerland where Sean still had a little project to try.

Switzerland and stormy climbing

We went towards 'Le petit Clocher du Portalet' near Martigny. This is an amazing granite spire at more or less 2500 meters altitude. After an approach of 2 to 3 hours with all the gear and food we've put up camp in a one hour distance walk of the spire. In advance we checked the weather forecast and knew the weather gods were possibly going to be angry those days. The same day we walked up to camp we left for our first climbing day at the spire. Sean already had been a couple of times to this spire and had already done most of the lines, his motivation to return was the line 'Darbelet'. I was just so impressed about this spire it didn't really matter what I climbed. This line is a multi-pitch with first some easy pitches and at the end two really impressive lines. The first line is a thin crack of 40 meter with small protection and some pitons. The amazing thing about this line is that it's so sustained you have to stay focussed and precise the whole way long with a little crux at the end. We tried this line a couple of times in between some little storms. We only got to try the first hard pitch because of a wet second pitch but it was already enough hard moves to search out. The second day we did the same but finished with an easier line that brought us to the top. Our third day we went down again to civilization because they predicted a whole day of storm which we didn't really notice.

This was a short but nice and interesting stop on our way to Valle Dell'Orco. By the time we climbed in Switzerland the temperatures in Orco got colder so we could go on towards our original destination.

The send of Greenspit – The impressive roof crack of Didier Berthod!

Both of us had one particular goal for going to the Orco valley, the goal was to repeat the famous climb Greenspit. This one traditional line that is considered to be one of Europe's most difficult crack climbs was first free climbed on natural protection by the swiss climber Didier Berthod. In 2008 Nicolas Favresse repeated this climb and did a 2th ascend.

This is where the crux move starts!
Greenspit (8b/+) is a hard roof crack on a big granite boulder in the Orco valley. This is the only line on this boulder and the most obvious one. It's only about 12 meters long but it's some super technical crackclimbing. After a week of working out the amazingly physical and still technical moves I realised to climb Greenspit free while placing the protection. This line has only been climbed free a hand full of times by really strong climbers. I don't really know exactely how many ascends Greenspit has. 

We had about one week to try this line. After two days of figuring out the moves, the projecting could begin. With a lot of tape and pain we each did about tree try's every day, our body's were wracked of the jamming. That's the crazy thing with a crack like that, at first it can feel so impossible and then afterwards if you figured out the moves it can feel way better and the moves will cost a lot less energy. Climbing a crack asks so much feeling with the moves and the coordination of the body in the crack. Some try's it just didn't feel possible to do the moves, it didn't work, followed by a try everything just flows. In total I tried this line five days with some rest days in between to let recover my hands and body.

The first part of the 12 meter roof crack is not to difficult and just demands for some precise climbing to go fluently towards the crux. The crux is the whole second part of the route where you make some really big and physical moves in a row. The hardest move is to lock off a right hand jam towards a left hand finger lock that's very shallow. With only the fingertips in the lock you have to lock and twist your hand as hell and cross towards a hand jam. The trick is to find the right balance and good foot jam to be able to hold this finger lock. After the hand jam you cross over to there is one more big move towards a sloper over the edge of the roof. Then you finish back in the crack. The protection is pretty good but there is not always enough time to place it. When I got closer and closer to sent the crack I placed less cams to save energy. I placed one last cam just before the hardest part of the crux and then just went for it. I rather fall far then not topping out :). 

For me the biggest victory about climbing this line is the fact I really focussed on this line and I enjoyed almost every moment without to much 'brain farts' like Sean would call it. I believed in the possibility I could climb it and had just one goal, sending it. The first day I tried this line with Olivier and Florian in July I would not even dare to think I could climb this line. I was so intimidated by at first. I'm so happy with this ascent, it gives me even more motivation to look for more cracks and interesting lines like that.  

There is still one Greenspit!
Those extra pictures are taken by Olivier Delcosse in my first try at the end of July. Thanks Oli!

Decisions after a great summer in Europe!

Back home since my big trip to South-America I haven't been home really. I climbed around Europe the last few months and have been busy making some future plans. It has been over two years right now that I'm traveling and climbing around the world. Those two years where amazing and full of great experiences, I see those years aren't lost at all. I feel so rich of experiences right now and feel more balanced in the life we live in right now. Although I know there is way more to discover and learn in the world. Now, at an age of almost 21, I feel ready to make some more decisions about the future.

Some future plans
When I was 18 the question 'What are you going to study?' looked like the only question people could ask or were allowed to ask. With an age of 18 the only thing I had seen was high school and a little bit of the world traveling around for climbing during school vacations. I wasn't ready to study that time, there was - and still is - so much to learn and climb. If I study right now I feel I will do it way different and most of all efficient compared with two years ago. What I really want to say is that I only can make a good choice of study right now because I've seen and experienced much more than at an age of 18.
So on September 17th I'll start my study, Social Work, at the SSH (Sociaal School Heverlee) in Leuven, the city where I come from. But... There is a big BUT ...
I will still be able to climb quite a bunch because I will separate these study's over more years then normal and I'll have a little different study program and flexibility's. So if I feel this study is something I really like after a couple of months I'll be able to study and combine climbing in a perfect way!
Summer 2012
This summer I've been traveling a little bit around Europe, it had been a long time I made some trips in my own continent.
In June I went, like you can see on one of my last blog posts, to Céüse. I forgot what an amazing climbing area it was, the routes combines technical - and physical skills in such a delicate way.

In July I joined the exchange trip between the 'Climb Cool Team' (Belgium) and the 'Cork Climbing Team' from Ireland. This trip was an idea of Richard Cussen from the Cork Climbing Team with as goal an exchange of young climbers from Belgium and Ireland to make contact with each other, the language and another climbing-culture.
The first week, the Belgium crew met up with the Ireland crew in Dublin and left towards some famous trad-climbing areas of Ireland. With the whole group of youngsters we climbed in 'Fairhead' for three days followed by four days of climbing in 'The Burren' on sector Ailledee. Two classical climbing areas un Ireland. Fairhead is famous for it's complicated technical climbs and the interesting protection on this basalt rock near the north coast of Ireland. Ailledee is a complete different style, here you climb on limestone what results in a sketchy climbing style where you only can place nuts (stoppers) because of sliding Camelot's.

The second week the Ireland crew came to Belgium to discover our limestone sport climbing in Freyr. But not only the Freyr rock was interesting for them, the climbing gyms we have in Belgium had to be tried. Thanks to this original exchange we could learn from both sides. We exchanged the spirits of a sport-climber and a trad-climber. The Ireland climbing is famous for it's pure form and spirit, it will be hard to find any bolts on this island. Some pictures of this trip will follow.
This was the Ireland-Belgium team:
Stephane, Sean, Merlin, Cedric, Nathan, Guillaume, Leon, Richard, Damien, Jack, Cairon(sorry for the wrong spelling), David, Daniel, Paul and Peter.

After the Ireland trip I did not join the Belgium part of the exchange but went towards Valle dell'Orco to join Florian Castagne, Jonathan Dewanne and Olivier Delcosse to discover what they call the little Yosemite of Europe in Italy. After one day of climbing in the granite Orco valley Jonathan had some bad luck and fell on his heel resulting in a big bone fracture. The rescue team of Jonathan's accident existed out of us and some motivated Italian climbers who carried him a part of the way towards the car. Jonathan had to spent the rest of his trip in the hospital and was then transferred to Belgium. Good luck with the recovery Jonathan.
Florian Castagne a Valle Dell'Orco
The days after the accident the rest of the crew did it a little easier. The rest of the week we climbed some classic multi-pitch lines and a nice single pitch, Legoland. This is a roof crack that's about 6 meter long with perfect hand-crack size. I realised to sent this line on sight were after Olivier and Flo tried it to a couple of times. 

Me in Legoland
The last day of the Orco week Flo did some highlining on a complete natural protected highline crossing the river in the valley. This was amazing, I tried it but could not even stand up right. This was yet one step to high in difficulty for me. At the end of the day Flo and Olivier joined me trying the famous crack 'Greenspit' (8b). I just heard about this line and wanted to try it. Without any expectations I tried to figure out the moves. This line motivated me so much that I immediately new I had to come back to project this climb.
Ending this trip we passed by Chamonix to hang out one day while Olivier showed us the best bars in town.

In Chamonix I met up with two good friends from high school, Emilio Crabbé and Florian De Bont who also started climbing, for a trip of two weeks hanging out, climb and do other stuff. This trip was the first time since really long that I did almost not climb. It was a real relaxing trip, a little break of climbing for me. Although, we climbed a little bit in the region of Briançon, France. We did some sport climbing and I even took them on a nice multi-pitch, a little hot in the sun with 35°C but fun guaranteed with those high school hippies. It felt nice to learn someone the tricks of climbing and I enjoyed seeing them being so motivated to learn. I even learned a lot myself explaining all the basics again.

The last two weeks of August I left together with Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll on a little trip to Switzerland and Italy. The report of this trip you'll find in the next blogpost.

This was my summer, I kind of liked the way of traveling right now in Europe where I always left some weeks and then came back for a little pause. Now I'm curious about how my study's are going to go the next months. I'm searching for a way to combine the climbing and studying I prefer. We'll see this works, at least I'm excited to start this study.

Again me in Legoland

No tick-marks in a crack!!!

Hmmm, I can't remember I cried on that climb :)

maandag 18 juni 2012

Céüse - I had to climb rock again!

Two weeks back in Belgium and a bunch of new opportunities to take showed up. I enjoyed being back in Belgium and see my friends and family back. Thanks to my decision of resting in Brazil and then climbing again before going home, I arrived home with more motivation to climb then before! My last day in Brazil I realized to climb my first 8a+ on sight, this was a motivation boost to return to Belgium and climb more.

A week ago I got the chance to join Stephane Hanssens, Nico Favresse and his girlfriend to Céüse in France. One of the most famous sport climbing areas in Europe. I’ve been here already two times before and I’m sure more trips will lead me to this amazing destination. I climbed four days right now and still have three climbing days left before I go back to Belgium. The first days demanded my body to adjust to the climbing style. Yesterday the climbing went already really good and I could send ‘Face the Rat’ (8a+), a classic long line. I enjoy climbing here a lot because of the style, I’m not super strong in this style, but it is really interesting climbing and I feel I can get fast stronger here.  Every route you need to be focused and look around for the holds.

There are a lot of people I now here from my trips in the past with result that I have a good time with whomever I want. I even met Marcos, Brazilian friend, back again who is making a 5 month road trip in Europe. The climbing world is small and the people who dream and climb, I come across again.

The 22th of June I return back to Belgium and then? Who knows? I don’t!

dinsdag 22 mei 2012

Rio - My belly full of climbing

The and of my climbing trip in South-America and I'm well rested and full of motivation! The first week here in I enjoyed the luxurious life with Marcos. We went to the beach, drank amazing juices, did a lot of slacklining and just relaxed.

View from de route on Pão de Açucar.

But after one week I felt the motivation again, the lack of exercises and my fat belly screamed for climbing! In Teresopolis we did not climb because of the rainy weather. We decided to start climbing easy again with a multipitch on Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf). This is a beautifull granite dome on a kind of peninsula in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. It's so touristic that after 6 pitches of climbing you can drink a fruit juice on top and go down with the cable-way between a bunch of tourists. We did an amazing climb on the totem of Pão de Açucar with a view on the big city, beaches, bays (no babes), other granite mountains and lots of jungle. A really special feeling to climb in civilisation on a wall that big and top out first in jungle and then behind a juice bar still with you climbing shoes on.

Pão de Açucar - I love to be a tourist after climbing!
After that we climbed in the best little sportclimbing area of Rio, called Barrinha. Although it isn't a big climbing area, there are a lot of hard routes and I've spend the last days of my trip in this place. The wall in Barrinha is a slightly overhanging wall with 30 meter endurance routes. Climbing on crimps you do big moves up to the top ending up in pumpy-land. The rock is a mixture of three kinds of rock but it feels like climbing on granite edges with lots of sharp cristals.

An amazing 7c in Barrinha

The climbing here for me motivated me like crazy. After the first day I new I would spend the rest of the trip on this wall. Athlethic moves on positive crimps is what I like a lot. The first day I could climb some 7's onsight up to 7c+ and I was close to onsight an 8a at the end of the day. A day like that motivated me as hell. But then the tropical rain arrived again and me and Marcos ended up climbing routes of 20 to 25 meters. We where obligated to say 'Take' five or even 2 draws before the anker and lower down because of a completely soaked end. Despite of the rain our motivation stayed high and we climbed  couple of days 'half-routes' to get ready for dry sending weather. Once the rock was almost completely dry I climbed an 8a and 8b on the same day and the day after I did another 8b.

It's crazy what a good rest and good food does with your body. I feel suddenly so ready for more sportclimbing when I'm back in Belgium. I really needed this rest to find the motivation again. Climbing goes with ups and downs, mostly it is not only fysical but also the head that gets tired. Changing your mind and focussing on other things can be good to, then you realyse again how much you like climbing and the whole atmosphere around this sport.

Today is my last climbing day of the trip! Then I go back to Buenos Aires for one night to pick up half of my gear and see some good friends again! On thursday I'll fly back to Belgium.

 After that the big questionmark of 'What should I do now?' will be there again. But today, I go climbing!

Some surfbabe crusing arround!

Those guys in Barrinha where wondering what climbers eat without asking. 

dinsdag 8 mei 2012

Tuzgle - Paradise of the three climbingstyles

Tuzgle, ten days of everything! From snowy sportclimbing to windy crackclimbing to hot bouldering.

Tuzgle is a high dessert climbing area at 4000 meters above sea level that offers three different types of climbing. The climbing area is a volcanic canyon near the volcano Tuzgle. On both sides of the canyon are two rails of basalt rock with underneath on the slopes a lot of boulders. In the main canyon where the road goes you can climb easily a good two week trip or longer. Besides this canyon there are 3 other canyons with as much rock as the main canyon. In those other canyons are no sportclimbing routes but there is a lot of possibility. Cracks and boulders you´ll find all over ready to be climbed.

The Tuzgle volcano en some gay pose! 

You can climb some nice boulders with slopy pockets, rails and crimps. In de bouldering and the sportclimbing  the style is the same. The typical styles of the area are big arrets and prows that result in real technical and balance climbing. Perfectionism is key in this climbing style.

Getting there is pretty difficult without a car. You can go to Tuzgle on two different ways. Entering from Jujuy or Salta. If you go from Salta you can take the bus to San Antonio de los Cobres and from there you need a car. Nico, Argiro, Sean, Paulita and I entered from Jujuy. From Jujuy you take a bus to Susques and then to the little village of Puesto Sey. This bus ride is rough, uncomfortable and took us the hole night, we left Jujuy at   21h and arrived at 6h in the morning. This you need to do with all your food because in Puesto Sey you can buy really little food. From Puesto Sey we walked five kilometers towards the middle of the main canyon where the road goes. Down in this canyon you can camp. It´s important to take your drinking water from the village because the water from the river is not potable because of the sulfur. Even a good water pump or chlorine tablets don´t get the sulfur out. Some people say the water from the village is also not good to drink but we just did it and did not get sick.

Show me what you got Tuzgle!
The canyon and rock reminded me to Indian Creek, only the rock is harder. We climbed a lot of sport routes and cracks. The cracks are mostly really perfect like in the Creek. But a lot of times there is a first 10 meter layer of loose white rock that makes a start hard or impossible.

We did all kind of cracks, one day we even committed to do a big off width (second route of the day). Start with a roof crack wide hands into a runout (groundfall) off width without protection. Before entering the off width I started hesitating; it was scary, hard and I wasn´t acclimatized yet. Sean under me kept screaming; ´´Common man, once you get in the off width you can not fall out anymore and it´s getting easy towards the top!´´ So under some pressure of Sean I just went for it and fought to the top. But because me lack of off width experience this was never getting easier towards the end. After a scary fight I arrived on top laying down 10 minutes and waiting to vomit but I never did. That day I didn´t climb much anymore and felt sick from the effort at 4000 meters. Oh I love off widths!

The life and climbing in Tuzgle can be really rough when the cold wind is arriving. The first week we had really cold weather and the wind was making climbing, cooking, sleeping and almost everything really hard! It´s hard imagining staying there a long time with those conditions. But at the end of the first week the wind got less little by little. The last three days in Tuzgle were amazing, it got a lot colder when the sun was gone, but there was no wind and so nice to climb during the day.

The group of climbers we ended up with at the end of our Tuzgle trip. 

Our camp next to the big boulder!

After 10 days in Tuzgle and 3 and a half months of climbing and traveling I felt like taking a little break of climbing and doing something to change my mind. I returned with Paulita and Sean towards Buenos Aires and searched for some nice place to spend my last 20 days in South America.

It took me a long time to decide were to go and what to do but I found it!

After I ate some Alfajores in Buenos Aires with Sean and Paulita I took the plane to a new and unplanned destination:

Rio de Janeiro - Brasil 
Straight out of the real life. (It´s strict forbidden to zoom in on this picture!)

I decided to come Brasil to relax, get some rest and afterwards still climb a little with Marcos Costa at his home town Teresopolis. When I´m sick of beaches and blue water we will climb some granite multi-pitch on the big Jungle domes near Teresopolis. In the mean time I´ll do some Janiero´s in the coconut trees on the beach!

vrijdag 20 april 2012

On our way to Tuzgle, San Juan Calle 11!

Five days ago I left Bariloche together with Sean and Paulita Jones towards Tuzgle. We stopped half way in San Juan to visit friends of Sean and climb in a limestone canyon called 'Calle 11'. This was a good plan since the bus ride to Tuzgle is three days. As soon as we arrived in San Juan we went back in to the silence of nature again. Together with Turco (nickname, like everybody has a nickname here) and Flor from San Juan we climbed two days in Calle 11.

This climbing area is really small and not so known but really interesting. It is the most polished rock a ever climbed on. The first time you climb on it you think it's a joke but if you give it some time it becomes interesting in the feet and balance. The nicest climbs where the limestone cracks, a completely different style as the granite cracks we did in Frey. The cracks are hard to protect and require another style of protection. Camalots dare to slip unless they are placed like a nut.

Tonight we will make our way towards Tuzgle where we meet up with a lot of other friends including Nico and his girlfriend.

I have to say that I love the hospitality of the Argentinians! Amazing how everybody helps you here!

Frey - As good as the one with the R at the end.

1700 meters high, a nice lake, great refugio, perfect granite spires, good athmosphere with nice life music! Frey is an amazing granite tradclimbing area near Bariloche, Argentina. Easy to get there without a car. By bus from Bariloche you can get to the base of the closest mountains to town. From there a three hour walk trough a beautifull automn forrest brought us up to a place full of granite. Frey is close to Bariloche but when you're there you feel far away from civilasition. Our team consisted out of Sean, Marcus and me. As soon as we arrived we met up with 'Pela', an Argintine 'Changa!', who was planning to go down because of the lack of climbers at this late climbing season. Our Changa man was happy to see us and stayed one week longer to complete our team.

It felt amazing to climb some cracks again, place gear and jam. In Frey you can do a lot of single to three pitches, but there is also a possibility to climb up to 7 pitches. It's a perfect trad and crackclimbing school. The approaches are not long and the closest spire is 'Aguya Frey' at 10 minutes walk from camp. But not only the crack climbing is interesting here, the slabs are mean and really technical. Every time I go to a granite climbing area I learn again. To bad I always have to leave a nice little package of fingertips skin on the slabs.

Sean had been to Frey a couple of times and had some unfinnished buisness to do. The second day we went up to 'El Techo de Frey' on the granite spire Aguya Frey. El Techo de Frey is the third pitch of a four pitch climb. After a first easy pitch, a second 'hard' 6b slab follows up to the roof crack in the third old aidclimbing pitch. This pitch starts with an overhanging roofcrack in a dihidral. This roof goes on for only 6 meters and has lots of complicated moves. The protection is good on small cams in the crack. The first day Sean and I tried it, we coudn't even move and had a hard time working out all the moves. Both of us never did something like this! Flat friction feet, slopy slopers and crazy compression moves make this climb incredibly complicated. The first three tries I would never think it was possible. Slowly we made progress and found both our own metode to climb this line. The roof ends with a jug and the climb continues with another tricky 6b crack on a slab.

After some days of working and learning how to climb this thing Sean could do the second ascent after Nicolas who did it last year. I got really close to send it, but a little 'Brain Fart' like Sean would call it, gave me some trouble. The next day we went back, this time strong and more confident about the possibility I could send it! Raaaaackckck. . . first try of the day I did it smoothly! Both super happy and excided about this line we did the second and third ascent of this line many climbers tried! I guess this line is getting some black, yellow and red collor!
Above: Sean researching the moves in El Techo.

But not only this line is amazing, Frey offered us way more beautifull and classic lines. One day we did an old aidclimb of 6 pitches on the central pillar named 'Kopcke-Insua' Interesting climb because not many people climb it because of the aidclimbing grade they give it in the guidebook. The crux pitch goes through a technical dihidral with old protection pitons and small gear! Great line and a great school! I love those technical ones on some scary 'old' gear!

                                                Above: Me being excited about the roof!

But climbing is not everything! The mornings in the sun eating a great poridge and drinking a hot mate (Argentinian typical thee/culture) with some nice people in this great place is already worth it to come here. Our last night we ate some home made pizza's in the refugio, played a lot of music and sang with a bunch of people. Athmosphere guaranty in those Patagonian mountains.

Back in Bariloche we went to our friends house, Hormiga (Cintia) and Maty. While we had been enjoying the granite, they suffered with wood to build a new little house next to theirs for Hormiga's parents. We helped them a little cutting some trees to make space for the house. Below you find a picture of Hormiga spectacularly cutting a big tree from the roof of the new house. After 10 minutes of effort cutting the tree, Hormiga (professional rock climber in Argentina, known for certain proud ascents of big walls) looked at us really miserable and said: Tengo miedo! (I'm so scared!).

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