Outside my usual boundaries

Catch Up

It’s been a while since my last post. Time to catch up! First of all, I got a job since a few months. Best job ever: route setter by City Rock. Four days a week we set a bunch of new routes and boulders with a team. We work really structured to keep every route in the gym up to date. We strip all the routes in a particular section and put up new routes for them. They used to select the oldest routes from a list and replaced those. The new strategy goes a lot faster and working in a team is super fun and advantageous because we discuss everything we set and decide together what the grade is. So, a great job!

The route setting team 

Pikes Peak
On August 5th, two week prior to the Pikes Peak Marathon, Pascal and I hiked Pikes Peak. The trail that goes up this fourteener is located less than 1 mile from our house. No doubt, we had to hike this one as our first fourteener. Colorado has 53 mountains that exceed 14,000 feet (4267,2 meters) in elevation. Pikes Peak is not the most difficult one, but it is one of the longest (26 miles). We left our house at 4.00 am in the morning. It was cold and dark. At the base of Barr trail we saw some other hikers, preparing their trip. Walking in the night is nice, because it’s quiet and you are not really conscious of the time that’s passing by. The sunrise was beautiful and after three hours we arrived at Barr Camp, which is situated half-way up. After a short break we hiked further and soon we arrived at the treeline. I had difficulty with the thin air, but Pascal didn’t. At that point a lot of marathon runners passed us, running up as if it was the easiest thing in the world. We felt a little bit silly and admired those strong, world-class athletes. After seven hours we made it to the top of Pikes Peak. A major drawback of this mountain is the fact that a highway and train are bringing tourists to the top. It’s not a serene moment if you finally get there, but still the feeling of getting on top of our first fourteener was nice. After a long rest we headed back down. The last miles were extremely brutal. Pain in our back, legs and feet and tired. Especially the last mile to our house was exhausting! But we made it! I’m looking forward to the next fourteener.


Close to the top of Pikes Peak

Close to the top of Pikes Peak

Three weekends ago we went to Rifle for the second time. This time Morgan, Andrew and Adam joined us. It was the very first time for Morgan and Andrew to climb outside. In our gym everybody states that Rifle is only nice if you are a solid 5.13 climber. Pascal and I disagree and it turned out that you can have a couple of awesome days in Rifle by just climbing 5.8’s till 5.10’s and projecting 5.11’s. Morgan even did her first lead-climb ever, namely Seller 5.8-5.9! That was the peak of this weekend!

Morgan in her first lead route Seller

Pascal topped all routes that he failed to send on our last trip, including Feline 5.11b. A beautiful line with a couple of crux moves followed by good rests. He also climbed Community Service 5.11c of which the crux was too difficult last time.

Pascal climbing Feline 5.11b

I decided to try Beer Run 5.13a again. We’ve met Gitta Lubke, an extremely strong Dutch women who lives in Chicago and climbed many times in Rifle. She was the person who recommended Beer Run to me in the first place and I asked her about the beta for a crux move that I couldn’t figure out last time. With her explanation it was one of the easier moves of the route! That made me really motivated, especially when she told me after my try that there is a knee-bar rest half way up. This weekend we will go to Rifle again and I am psyched to try this route with the knee-bar! Hopefully I can send it soon.

Outside my usual boundaries

As the title of my blog post indicates, I’ve explored other aspects within climbing.
Normally the only thing I’m doing is indoor-outdoor climbing and bouldering. That’s pretty much it. This last month I’ve experienced a lot of first times!

The first one was dry-tooling. Dave, a fellow climber in the gym, motivated me to pick up the ice axes and climb one of the dry-tool routes in the gym. It was right after my first endurance training, which I was motivated for because of Beer Run. With the axes in my hands and helmet on my head I was ready to go. I placed both axes on the first hold and stepped into the wall. Then I noticed that I had to reach all the way up, very very far up! Locking off on my right arm I reached and felt my muscles working hard. Walked up while pulling my left arm and then I had to place my right ax into a side way facing hold. To keep the pressure on the ax I had to work my core extremely hard and move slowly up. The scariest thing was that I didn’t trust the placement of my axes, because I didn’t had the sense of touch with my fingers. Slowly I was moving up, getting pumped from over-gripping the axes and locking off at every move. I felt relieved when I got to the last hold. A nice experience which made me wonder how it would feel to do this on real ice where you can choose a little bit more where to place your axes (I guess). I think this route was a nice finish for my endurance training of that day. Haha.

Turkey Rocks
If I tell you what I did last weekend, you’ll start thinking that I’m getting too old for sportclimbing and that I’m ready for some adventure alpinist kind of stuff. Don’t get offended, just pointing out the stereotype 😉
So what did I do? I went trad climbing at the cracks of Turkey Rocks. Together with Brendan, Patrick, Mike, Hannah, Landy and Pascal I went to this crag. Man, what does it take long before you get even started with climbing :). First we had to make gloves to protect our hands from jamming between the sharp rock.

Then we had to organize the rack of gear: cams, nuts, slings, quickdraws and so on. When we were all set, Pascal, Patrick and Mike started to lead three routes next to each other. I was watching Pascal carefully to see how he placed his gear. Of course this kind of climbing takes much longer than normal sport climbing where you only have to place a quickdraw. At one moment Mike shouted very happy: “Yes, finally I can place my #5!”

Mike and his #5

Pascal led the route, called Bloody Englishman 5.8, steady and clean to the top. I asked him to remove some of the placements and to leave others so I could practice the placement. My ascent was a struggle to the top with one fall half-way up. I was surprised by the fact that I placed some hand and foot jams (something I am pretty scared of because I don’t want to get stuck). The placement of gear was nice as well, though I don’t want to think about it how it would be if you are climbing harder routes and the standing position gets worse. I was disappointed that I fell, slipped away with my hands but it was cool to experience some trad climbing. The next route I did on a toprope to practice my crack climbing skills a little bit more. This route was called Ragger Bagger 5.8+ and I cannot believe that I’m saying this but I really enjoyed this route! At one point my foot got stuck and I got really nervous, but after that I decided to lay-back the whole thing and that made it a beautiful route! After all it was a great experience.

Mike cutting of his gloves

Earlier that day we stopped at Sheep’s Nose where some other friends were bouldering. We joined for two hours and climbed some nice, easy problems. It’s so great that there is climbing everywhere. Sometimes we still can’t believe it…. What a difference with The Netherlands 🙂

Hannah in Big Air V3 at Sheep’s Nose

The Last Rumble on the Rocks
After the trad climbing we went to Sport Climbing Center for a local bouldering competition. It was crowded when we came (a little bit late) and an awesome atmosphere. After warming up in some easy problems we got told that the format was about the four hardest problems you did. The goal was to flash everything or climb it in as little as possible tries. The setting was great and we had a lot of fun!


Snake Pit
After our multi-discipline climbing the day before, we went to the local boulder spot in Garden of the Gods on Sunday. With some good food and beers we had a great afternoon at the two boulders in the Snake Pit. Morgan and Andrew were joining again, and after their first rock-climbing at Rifle this was the first time bouldering outside for them. It was great to see how they flashed there first problem on the Mongoose block. Mike climbed some awesome problems to, including East Face Crimps sit-start. A great line. I managed to climb Slapper, a local classic V7-8. It starts with compression on slopers, followed by a big dynamic move to a easy topping out. This day reminded me of my teenage years when I was hanging around every day on the skate spot in Leeuwarden. Drinking some beers while sitting in the sun watching others and now and then do some tricks yourself. Good days in life, this kind of days.

©Mike Nalevanko.
Me in Slapper V7-8. 
The Crew
Pascal, Patrick, Brendan, Morgan, Andrew

I’ve talked earlier about training. I was really motivated back then, but unfortunately I quickly went back from training into my normal climbing routine what means just climb whatever I like to climb without extra training. Since a week I’m back into training though! Mostly because I signed up for UBC Pro Tour in Seattle. Knowing that the best American climbers are showing up there I need to do something! I did three training sessions last week and the good thing was that I really enjoyed it!
First I did the Bouldering Pyramids training of Kris Peters
together with Pascal. One hour of constantly bouldering, push ups and pull ups! I hate sweating, but this felt like a really good training!
The second training I did was 4×4. Tiffany Hensley told me about it and it means that you choose four difficult problems that you are able to climb. Then you climb those after each other, take three minutes rest and do it again. You do that four times. It made me pumped, and so it felt as a good training routine. The third training I did was made up by myself with Mike and Brendan. We started on the system wall where we did a routine of 19 moves and 2 times 10 pull ups in between. Every round we increased the overhanging of the wall. Then we started to climb boulder problems with the five second rule, which means that you need to wait five seconds every time before you hold the next hold. In between we did push ups and crunches. Then we did a hang work-out with a weight harness. Open-hand sloper hanging and compression hanging. We ended our two hour session with core exercises. Today we will be training again! I’m looking forward to it.

Here are a couple of videos from all this fun climbing days! Maybe I will make a video when training tonight 🙂

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