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Drytooling got my heart on fire.

A week full of things happening: car issues, a lecture, my heart on fire and the drytool event at Usine. My heart on fire. 
Read about it here: 

Tuesday November 15. 

We missed the movie premiere at Grenoble. So wished we were there. So great they managed to publish the new movie! European climbing: ice, mixed, dry. Dry; the thing people didn’t even dare to mention 15 years ago is now an established part of iceclimbing. And it brings new, mega strong climbers making all kinds of ascents possible (alpine, ice, mixed and dry) that were considered impossible even just 5 years ago. 

Génération Dry the movie is called, by Pierre Chauffour (and team) after the ideas of Gaetän Raymond. 

It will soon be shown at your local Mountain Film festival :)

When the movie was shown we received so many screenshots of the cinema screen with us on it. It gave me such an amazing feeling, being part of this all!

Gérald took this shot from the movie and tagged us in his FB post.

Wednesday November 16. 

F* it. Let’s just go. 

But we will need to fix wheel-bearings first…at least we think that’s what needs to be fixed. 

In the rain Dennis lay under the car and managed to replace one. The other one? Well…we will see what happens on the way I guess.

That midday and evening we climbed. Just like yesterday, but different. Yesterday was sports, indoor. Today drytooling, outdoors. The wooden wall served us well, we both noticed we’re finally getting somewhere. 

Thursday November 17.

The car had more issues than we thought, the whole steering-rack is worn out and needs to be replaced. That will take quite a bit of time…money…and we have to find a new one for sale first.

Stuff for tomorrow.

Lecture day today.

My laptop decided it doesn’t want me to edit video’s anymore. The converter (for our energy supply) decided it didn’t want to help me either. No energy for my big computer means no video editing. And I needed to edit… Just in time the converter miraculously decided to work again. Just in time to finish my presentation.

Business is topsports, the theme was. Making the assumption that to run a proper business you need to work as hard, learn, train, plan, and manage as much as a top athlete. 

I was invited to tell about my climbing and work as a freelancer in the climbing business on the annual congress for freelancers in Rotterdam (Hillegersberg-Schiebroek). 

When I got the invitation I was SO flattered. Me? For this audience? About this subject? Really? Wooooow :)

Answering questions after my lecture. Photo by Rob Hilz for ZZPRO.

I spoke about our Moonflower expedition in Alaska. Making the connection between business and the plans we had to make to climb this big mountain. 

I feel my lectures can always be improved, but it went well. I lost my ‘common thread’ and stumbled for words just a few times, but even Dennis didn’t really notice when it happened. The rest of the audience just found it great, they said. So it was good :)

Someone told me afterwards I really held the attention of the audience. Especially when I stood on one leg for so long. “You know”, he said, “most people can’t even stand on one leg at all?”. 

It’s just so nice to motivate and inspire people by ‘just’ sharing my passion.

Michèlle Sparreboom was the chairman of the day. She introduced me, interviewed others, made the connection between my lecture and the big lecture of Rinze Bouius, and she spoke about her own adventure: how she got here, to stand there in front of the audience. 

She said something that touched me. Dearly. 

She spoke about how she lit her heart on fire. That there’s always something that enlightens your heart. A passion, a taste, a thing, as little as it can be. But there’s always something in everyone. 

I sometimes can get so insecure, scared to fail, scared of not being good enough, scared to believe in the little thing that enlightens me. 

She went on.

And she said “you, if you have that ‘heart on fire’ feeling: YOU NEED TO GO FOR IT!” (“Als je hart in de fik staat: MOET JE ERVOOR GAAN!”)

So she did, and so she stood here an on quite some other great places. 

And so you need to do it. Do it! 

She touched me with those words. Motivated me to believe in what I do, what I can do, to keep on doing it. 

Thanks Michèle :)

Friday November 18.

Steering-rack (stuurhuis) issues to fix. 

Dennis took the rack from his van, took the old one out, placed the ‘secondhand’ one in again. Let’s hope it’s just that. 

Just after 12 we left for France.

The car is slow so it took us till Saturday midday to drive to Voreppe (Grenoble).

Saturday November 19.

That evening the French had the final Drytool event of the season at the big cave of Usine. 

The cave was lit by a huge lightbulb, laser beams, everyone was wearing head torches, there was French style dance/rave music playing loud and the cave was filled by ‘primitive’ cave men and women wearing bright colours and swinging blinking tools. 

Iceaxes. Just so many people with axes in their hands. Hanging, walking, dancing all around us. 

We joined the cave men and swung our own tools in the first real rock drytool route of this season. After a few movements the holds got spaced apart. I really had to jump now. Hung on one axe, clipped the draw, placed my feet back in the wall and had this rush: “Oh my god, I’m finally home!” I really got my heart on fire now!


Cave men and the DJ.

After a few routes still nobody had tried the “ultimate” route yet. I thought Dennis had a good chance on on-sighting or flashing the route. I didn’t know if I was good enough for it. So I would go first, Dennis could see the moves and had a better chance then.

First move was ‘the impossible move’ of last year and then the Ultimate route traversed out left into the next route but you had to skip some holds that weren’t marked red.

At the end of the last season we spent a day at Usine, I wanted to climb this route but just couldn’t do the first move. Late year, with tears of anger and disappointment in my eyes I gave up after trying it over ten times.

I stood there now. Axe in the hold. Pushed. And perfectly placed my other tool in the next hold. I could hardly believe I just did the ‘impossible move’ this easily!

On I went. The music booming behind me, my torch moving with my head to find the next red-marked hold. Undercling, only the pick. My full body weight was hanging on the pick and I felt it…bend… Tried to stabilise my body to keep the axe from bending but couldn’t find it. It bend even more. I saw it turn. Dennis always says that good steel bends, it doesn’t break. So I thought: let it bend, I’ll bent it back again in the next hold. Now I just had to go. I pulled on the axe, pushed with my whole body my legs… Bang! I was flying in mid-air. Axes in my hands, 80% of the pick still stuck in the hole on the wall. It took me a few seconds before I realised: it broke! 

Disappointed, but hey, whatever, I tried. 

Like a swan without it’s beak.

Unlike the spirits which were going up, the temperature remained below freezing. And the wind made it even colder. 

Before Dennis had his try, another climber, Kev, tried the route and broke the tip of his pick in the start…!

Dennis’ turn. 

My pick was still stuck up there in the hole, so before he could move on he first had to remove it. 

With his length and talent for precise and dynamic moves he easily got up to my broken pick.

Dennis just on his way towards my broken pick.

On the ground, beforehand, we discussed how he could remove the pick. He carefully placed the tip of his pick in the small hole, pulled it sideways and dropped the broken thing. Now his turn to not break his tools. 

He was afraid. Much heavier than I am, he feared he’d break his whole tool instead of just the pick. 

“Allez! Kom op, gewoon doen! Allez!”

He pushed and made the move without breaking his pick or axe. Now on. Move after move. “Uhrrrh, yes!” And “yes!” after every move he made he was a little closer and a little more surprised. All the way in the roof he finally clipped the anchor being the first that evening to climb ‘the ultimate route’.

It turned out there was a special women’s ‘ultimate route’ too. The finals of the DTS comp in 2012. 

The moves were not as long and the route itself not as overhanging. I was a little scared to try it. What if I didn’t climb it? Then I failed in both routes? 

And I didn’t want to make any figure-of-fours (it’s a local ethical thing: no fig 4’s allowed in Usine) although they kind of accept it if women do them. 

I just think we all should play by the local rules. So no fig 4’s for me.

I stepped into the route, knowing none of the girls so far finished the route. 

Climbed….my axe slipped out of the hold and left me dangling on the rope. 

Fail. That fail was a mental fail. And it hit me hard. 

I sat in the ground, not knowing what to do.


What happened actually? Dennis said he saw something fall just when I fell. 

After five minutes I just went again. This time more careful. I easily passed the move and saw the broken foothold. Ah, so that was why.

I passed the move, got awkwardly tired in my neck as the looking up with the weight of my torch wasn’t helping. Suddenly the big lightbulb went down and all got really dark. Footholds hardly visible and Dennis shouting I should just move on: “gewoon door gaan, gewoon door, allez”.

And that’s just what I did. I reached the red stripe on the wall, the end of the route. That’s it, right? The rope came tight. ‘Pfhew, I climbed it.

It turned out to be good enough for first place.

Dennis, Kev and Yann on stage. Gaetan (the master) taking a picture of them.

Not that we really came to win, to compete. As I think this is the least and most competitive event there is. The best climbers, all locals, just one ultimate route, and at the same time the music, climbers, dancing and fun together makes it one of the best events to attend. 

It took us two days of driving in the rain. Gaetan asked us why we’re so dedicated. The only thing we could say is nothing. It’s a feeling, just like he has, difference is we don’t have such caves back home so we have to go far.

You sometimes see these sweaters and t-shirts with a mountain drawn on it and the text: “the mountains are calling so I must go”.

Well: DTS was calling, so I just had to go.

Sunday November 20.

You know the feeling when you try to rise out of your bed and you suddenly realise your whole body is sore of yesterday’s moves?

Well. That.

We didn’t have much time so driving home was the task for today.

The ‘kloingggg’ sound had stayed over the whole journey so on the road we changed the other wheelbearings. 

The sound is still there now after we changed it. Strange.

I reckon after we find the source of the ‘kloinggg’ we’ll be experts in car-analysis. Just by the sound we know what’s wrong and how to fix it.


Monday November 21.

We decided to go to Belgium and find this little drytool spot at Pont-a-Lesse (close to Freyr/Dinant).

With some help of ‘the-walking-guidebook’ (a.k.a. Harald Swen) and the pictures of Tom we easily found the little spot.

Three routes, almost vertical wall, rather shallow drilled pockets and a loose finish. All graded at about D5/6/6+.

Well, at least we climbed the routes , good for the archive.

Dennis starting in the middle route of the tiny sector.

That evening we overcame all the traffic and Belgian ‘third world highway roads’ and arrived home. 

Shower, warm bed and sleep.

Tomorrow indoor climbing again.

Thanks Gaetan for inspiring us with the DTS thing, thanks to the DTS sponsors for making it all possible and the prices we got, thanks ZZPRO for having me at your event!

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