Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda

Rock climbing in the big cave (‘Cova Gran’) of Santa Linya in Catalunya (Spain).
Here I first sent Ciudad de Dios (a route graded 9a or 9a/+).
Some days later, on December 10th, I climbed the route again. This time I didn’t stop at the belay, but continued into the second part of a route called La Novena Enmienda. That meant adding more than 20 meters to Ciudad de Dios and climbing all the way to the top of the cave. The total lenght of the route must be something like 50 meters. 
By climbing this new combination, I have probably done the first ascent of it. The name of this link-up is now ‘Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda’.

I was grateful that I was still able to climb hard after a long and tiring season and with some circumstances that made climbing pretty uncomfortable: an aching elbow, some humid rock and frozen toes halfway up the route.

In Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda, the day before I sent it.
Photo by Jilske Hupkes

The grade?
Tough question.
The guidebook calls Ciudad de Dios a 9a/+. That would certainly make the extension I climbed a 9a+.
However, Edu Marin thinks Ciudad de Dios might have become 9a over the years due to new methods. And then the link-up would be a 9a/+.
So what should I say?
I think I know…
I’ll call it a 9a/++. ?

Ciudad de Dios pa la Enmienda is long, skin-friendly and the hardest move is situated right in the beginning.
After having climbed the short, but very intense and bouldery start (probably around 8c+), you get to a place where you can shake out. Then you continue into a crux of La Fabelita 8c: a traverse to the left, followed by another good rest. Some meters higher you find yourself doing the crux of La Fabela 8c+, again traversing leftwards, and a few tricky moves later, you’ve climbed Ciudad de Dios (a 9a or 9a/+, depending on who you ask).
Here, next to the chain of Ciudad de Dios, you can take a breath and chalk up. When you feel like you’re ready to continue, you climb a few meters straight up. 
At this point I had to put my feet on small, slopy footholds and stretch out to take a high undercling. And then I realized I couldn’t feel my toes anymore because of the cold! I couldn’t go back and didn’t want to fall, so I just pushed on my feet, even though they felt like ice cubes. It worked. Phew!

And then starts the long traverse to the right: the last part of La Novena Enmienda. This second half of the route contains several little cruxes with moves that are far and risky for people my size. I had already noticed that the rock was a little humid, but at a certain moment, right before I had to commit to a far move, I could feel the moisture inside an undercling. “Go on, there’s no way back”, I told myself and… I made it. Move after move, I had to keep being precise and recover as much as I could.

At the very end of the route, right before the chain, I had to put all my wait on a slippery, shiny foothold to make a high kneedrop. “Stay on, don’t slip off…” My foot stayed on: another ‘phew’!

And then it was time to clip the chain. 🙂

An interview with me by Pol Ortiz on Wogü.es (in Spanish).


Ma belle ma muse – First ascent

On April 2nd I promised to give the full story of my first FA soon. Now, more than 3 months later, I only give you a short story of the 3-week rockclimbing trip I made in Springtime. I apologize for that and hope to become a more up-to-date climber in the future. 😉 So here it comes:

After the winter break and a few months of indoor training, I was looking forward to feeling rock again. Now the question was: where to go? Our French friend Seb Richard, suggested a project in Romeyer, a climbing spot in south-east France. It seemed like an exciting idea, so I decided to give it a chance. The first time I would try a never-climbed route…

It turned out to be a rather short, traversing, crimpy and skin-eating project which was not exactly my style, but… it felt possible. And after a process of working out the movements, memorizing all the holds and footholds, starting to do real attempts, making good progress, falling about 4 times at the last hard move just underneath the chain and deciding to do one more attempt before the day was over, I finally clipped the chain. Wow, my first First Ascent!

Pic by Seb Richard

Pic by Seb Richard

Thanks to Jean-Elie for giving me his bèta even though he was very close to succeeding himself. He topped it right after me. Congrats! 🙂
Seb Richard was the passionate photographer next to me while I was doing attempts. Thanks for the pictures and videos!
And of course I don’t want to forget my parents who so lovingly support (and belay!) me whenever I need it.

And the grade? I personally thought it was a hard 8c+, perhaps an 8c+/9a. Some climbers suggested 9a, but I’m still not convinced that it is truly 9a. I’m looking forward to more sends and opinions about this route!

After this, the trip wasn’t over yet so I moved to Pierrot Beach near Pont-en-Royans to try another project. I was able to do all the moves of this route, but had to leave it due to bad weather. Rain, fog, a cold north wind, … I had 2 options left: going north (meaning home) or going further south. I chose the last one and went to Orgon Canal where I climbed Bronx.

A few more details:
Ma belle ma muse (grade to be confirmed) – 9 attempts – about 6 climbing days
Bronx (8c+) – 3 attempts – 2 climbing days

And some nice posts about my trip to France: Crush CruxSiked! (in Dutch) –

the Ultimate Sacrifice…

After the worldcup in Imst I was looking forward to a 2-week rock climbing holiday! Together with my parents I discovered Gorges du Loup, a beautiful place in the the south of France. The first days I was longing to climb, but I was still tired and even a bit ill. So after some more restdays I could finally begin!

The first route I did was Hot Chili X, a nice 8c, which I knew was possible for girls. I really wanted to try the 9a which Muriel had done, Punt X. With the help of the locals I tried working it out. The second time I tried it, I was able to do all the moves, exept one. I was surprised and happy that it went that well. But the next day I woke up with painful fingers which hurted when opening a quickdraw. I think the guilty hold was a 2 finger pocked named ‘la fourchette’ (French for ‘the fork’) by the locals which tells quite precisely how it feels. 😉 I decided not to try the 9a anymore, in order not to get injured, and I took another restday.

In the following days I was able to sent ‘Last Soul Sacrifice’, an 8c which begins with an 8b. In my first attempt I fell very high. I had past the hardest sections and I had been so close. That afternoon, after the sun had gone, I did another attempt. This time I felt so much worse than the first time, but I knew exactly what to do and I did not want to give up. It was so hot and I was thirsty while climbing, because the sun had been warming up the rock. I had to fight really hard, but then I finally reached the chain! 🙂

The locals supported me to try Ultimate Sacrifice as well. This one begins with a very short bouldery 8b and then joins the 8c. I worked it out a few times and then I did an attempt. I managed to climb the start and arrived already quite exhausted in the route I knew. But because of what I had experienced the day I had done the 8c, I knew that even when I was tired I was able to do the moves. This helped me a lot and gave me the confidence to keep on going. It was the same kind of fight, but I knew I could make it and I did! My first 8c+, so great!

For me this is a very special name. It reminds me of the one who gave Himself as the Ultimate Sacrifice for me: Jesus.

A holiday is always too short and I really began loving the place, but we had to return home.
On the last morning and in the very last hours I climbed an 8c named ‘Qoussai, les Maux de la Fin’. I had worked it out a few times before and I wanted to give everything, because I knew that it was possible. I almost felt like a competition! I was so happy and relieved that it worked out well. 🙂

Thanks to my parents for the hours of patiently belaying and to the other climbers who gave me such useful beta! 🙂

Summer holidays 2011

3 weeks of rock climbing in Rodellar

I really like this area! We went climbing together with the family Cuypers.
I climbed my first 8b+, ‘Geminis’! It’s a fantastic route situated on the ‘Gran Bovéda’. I loved it very much!
I also did ‘Philippe Cuisinière’ 8b/+ and ‘El Chorreras (La belle inconnue)’ 8b/+. My friend Celine Cuypers (12 years old) climbed the beautiful route ‘El Delfín’ 7c+!

First 8b

In Easter holidays we went climbing in France (Saint Léger du Ventoux). It was fantastic! The weather was very good. I could climb my first 8b (Abrège nief) in my 5th attempt. I also could climb Malaxe (8a/8a+) in my first attempt.

Abrège Nief 8b