Hardly done with Expeditie Geluk I jumped into the next event. The organisation of the Petzl Dutch Drytool Event, or short: DDE.
For over two weeks I slept on the couch in the bar of climbing gym Monte Cervino. I gave up my house in Rotterdam, and my parents lived too far away to drive to the gym so my new house became my favourite climbing gym.
This year I had a lot of people who promised to help out but in the end didn’t show up (so thank you all who did help out!) Dennis now lives in Germany and couldn’t take off from his new job/traineeship for the two weeks so I was on my own… In the rain I hated to go outside, in the darkness it was boring and I really wanted to keep on climbing too.
Routesetting the men’s finals…
There were more then 20 routes that had to be set. Two finals, and at about 20 routes varying in difficulty between M3 and M10. Goal was to make it one big playground for iceaxe-fetishists ;) The wall is very featured and ‘wavey’ meaning it was hard to find holes that actually fitted the holds. Last Thursday it was all done, even the mens finals seemed to be hard but doable. Although… I had sleepless nights, thinking of all the moves I set, girls not even able of doing the first move, holds that turned and were impossible to fixate and day-dreaming of people falling off in the start… In my head it was almost like a terrible nightmare…
At the last moment I figured we didn’t have enough time to engrave the big price with last year’s winners and there were mistakes in the topo (that already got printed over 150 times…) And we had the iceaxe issue… Last year some *$%@##F*! stole over ten iceaxes on the event. So we had to change the system this year: no iceaxes at every route but only borrowing the axes on name and ID.
On Friday Dennis arrived. I hadn’t seen him for a month thus I was so excited I couldn’t sleep that night :) And Steve Johnstone came over from Scotland.
Steve doesn’t need iceaxes to climb the routes :)
Not only Steve was the foreinger, but Yannik, Jurgen, Maxime came over form Belgium, Rolf came all the way from Swiss, there were French, American, British, Spanish and Russian climbers. Making it more and more a real international event. And, Gunnar was there too. Gunnar is one of the people who took me out iceclimbing for the very first time in Iceland. One of the group who made me find the passion I have now.
Rolf all the way from Swiss!
Saturday morning we did all the last preparations before the big start. In less then on hour time we registered over 70 competitors and I counted over a 100 official competitors and of course there were also ‘unofficial’ climber who didn’t want to compete but just have fun and try. Incredible to have that many people drytooling!
Of course some things didn’t go too smooth, I for example forgot to explain that you’re not allowed to put your axes in the loops of your harness when climbing and some people were pretty frustrated about the new iceaxe system we had to apply. And this year we even disqualified one climber.
The figure-of-four chain
Steve climbing just before the hold broke
Dennis is flexible
The most awesome way to hold an iceaxe!
Tm, dm, dm, tm, dm, tm, dadaaaa, Spiderman!
Our best volunteer ever, Rutger also does compete!
It’s there, there, yes, there.
At the end of the day after loads of funny, hard, interesting, technical, and challenging routes we were ready for the finals. In the dark. All climbers got a head-torch on their helmet and climbed in the darkness. It made it all spectacular and challenging. First climber. Yannick. Slowly he struggled his way to a big undercling in the top of the route. Almost out of time, with less then 20 seconds left he suddenly popped off the undercling!
Yannick in the first moves of the finals
My stress level went up to 300% in one second. Shit – hold…broken – no replacement – what now – other hold… First one of the girls and then it was Dennis turn to climb. I wished him to win, but really set the route in a most honest way possible, using holds that he didn’t knew yet and setting moves that wasn’t his natural style. And then he figured his way to the fresh hold. Bhafff! Off! Noooo! He fell off on the fresh set hold! If my stress level could grow any higher then it already was, it did… My favourite climber had suddenly a huge disadvantage! Next girl to climb. All girls were pretty new to iceclimbing and I was really hoping the route wouldn’t be too hard. Meanwhile I fixed the hold and replaced it with the biggest undercling possible that was impossible to break.
Fixing the hold…
Yannick and Dennis had to wait to the end and all the finalists were getting nervous waiting in the big indoor gym. One by one the climbers climbed further, popped off or timed out on the 8 minute climb. Jurgen came all the way to the yet again new placed undercling and after a big struggle did do the move. Unfortunately he timed out before he could reach the spectacular chains in the end of the route.
Jurgen climbing in the dark
Meanwhile one of the most experienced girls, Marit, who joined us with drytool training before, wasn’t too fortunate and popped off…
Marit figuring the fist wood-block
Steve, my favourite Scottish climber should get second place. He should…thats how good he was. But he was so unfortunate! He popped off the fourth hold! I felt really sorry for him…but it’s how competitions work. I was kind of happy I was not in his shoes, I’d be so super disappointed and blame myself for everything… Corien did really well! She, as all other girls, doesn’t own iceaxes but still managed to climb half way in the route.
Corien reaching for the first place
I was hoping they could reach for the top of the route where the mens and womens finals merged into a chain and a big block of wood. Laurens was the last climber before Yannick and Dennis could give it a go. He was super nervous and I was really hoping it wouldn’t mess too much with his mind. Actually he did really well and climbed up to a third place!
Laurens reaching for the third place
Yannick struggled and clearly was tired. He suddenly popped off and was out… His old time stayed, and thus ended up 4th place. Then Dennis turn again. He looked as tired as Yannick and I didn’t knew if he’d actually do better this time. He folded up, turned his leg over his arm, and in the little bulb of body an arm and an axe reached for the next hold on which he unfolded again.
Flexible folding figure-of-four fiddle.
Just before the undercling…
He was the only one using figure-of-four moves but it seemed to work. I told the audience that he’s super flexible, and all laughed, thinking of other things then the flexibility in drytooling. He reached the hold, and then his old time started counting. He still had over 1:30 minutes left to climb and fairly easily reached the chains! The chains! Thats where I wanted all climbers to get to, be totally pumped and fall out swinging to the next chain. Dennis timed out on the first chain, but it didn’t matter. He already won. So I let him climb all the way to the top. The audience loved it!
Jeroen being a serious belayer
One of our great camera-people, Martin!
The audience having fun :)
Two proud winners and a great event was the result. Thanks to Monte Cervino, NKBV and double thanks to Petzl who made it all possible to have this great event. I reached my goal; we made drytooling accessible for a bigger public, everyone had fun, and I’m motivated enough to organise it again. Thank you all for competing! The final results:
Now up for the next challenge. I’m going to move to Germany tomorrow. It feels like I settled more then ever at this place in Rotterdam, having the feeling I could develop, grow and learn. Leaving behind an incredible group of friends, a climbing gym that I honestly love, a growing community in work and climbing, a job as freelancer, and a country that I started to understand better and better. Leaving the Netherlands again feels different then when I moved to France, Belgium and Iceland. Now, breathe in, hold my breath and jump into the deep sea again.
All pictures copyrighted! Thanks to Hans van der Steen. Please ask before you’d use one of the pictures in this blog-post.