I’m just back in Belgium from the US. I’ve been in two different climbing areas, Squamish (Canada) and Rifle (Colorado).
In January 2010 I bought my flight to the US and Canada and I decided to go on a climbing trip of two months on my own. This was the best decision I made in a long time. On the 7th of July it was time to go, I packed my stuff and jumped on the plane. After a long flight I stayed in Seattle for one night, the day after I went to Squamish by bus and I used the hitchhike possibility. After I fell asleep in the bus to Squamish and had hitchhiked back I arrived at The Chief campground under the big Chief wall. It is a self-registration campground and cost $ 5 a night. The campground is equipped with some toilets and bear lockers for the food. In Squamish you have the possibility to do trad-climbing, bouldering and sport climbing. I first chose to do some bouldering to meet some new people, this worked out very well and after 5 minutes I was bouldering with a nice group of people and I found some climbing partners to do some trad-climbing.
I had the luck to meet Fabian Schillings (Germany) and Martin Clarluna (Swiss) who taught me the trad-climbing skills because this was the first time I ever touched trad gear. I loved it from the beginning, it was like I learned climbing again. I started easy and increased the level after a while! I’m sport climbing for almost 11 years and I’m glad I finally learned trad-climbing. This is more natural and the mentality you have for climbing is different. The goal is to reach the top with your climbing partner safely. The feeling while I climb trad is for me totally different with sport climbing. There are more factors you need to take care of, placing the gear on the right places and at the right time is so important.
I also climbed for the first time some cracks, this is just amazing. Just climb on in a crack for a long time while using every part of your body!
I did some classic longer routes: The Grand Wall, Freeway and MilkRun.
After my first trad-climbing experiences I started with some bouldering in Squamish. Before that trip I hadn’t bouldered that much on rock before. First I did a lot easy boulders and some classics in Squamish in the grade V4 and V5. After some days I did on a short period of time my first V7, V8 and V9.
This was some great quality bouldering on beautiful granite rock. A lot of slopers and tension moves. The problems ask a lot of technique skills from the climbers. Those problems combine the complicated technical moves with hard lock offs and lots of power.
I also tried the famous sport climbing route of Chris Sharma, “Dreamcatcher”. This is the most impressing line I ever saw and tried. I made it to the crux but I couldn’t do those moves yet. This route follows one clear line on a huge boulder at the Chief boulders. In this route you follow a nice line instead of bolts!
The 2th of august my trip in Squamish was over. I took a plane to Denver Colorado and went to the city of climbing: Boulder! The climbing looked awesome but I didn’t stay that long. I found really fast a ride to Rifle Mountain Park where I stayed for the rest of my trip in the US.
In Rifle I did some sport climbing again, it took me a while to get used to the style of Rifle. It is a limestone crack with a very blocky climbing style! It is very hard to on sight or flash routes, I saw this as a challenge and tried a lot of routes on sight. Rifle is famous because of his style and the hard grade in America.
The first two weeks weren’t great because of the sickness I had. When my body was healthy and strong again I could climb some harder routes. I did my 3th 8b+ ‘Roadside Prophet’ after not too much tries.
This season Rifle was really busy and a lot of strong American climbers where there. This was really motivated for me. It really helps to climb with some stronger climbers than me, it pushes me to try some harder stuff.
Traveling alone was an awesome experience. I’ve met a lot of nice people and I learned the vertical world of the trad-climbing. This trip was the first big trip I made on my own and not the last. Now I’m back in Belgium and I take a year off of school what means that I’ve a lot of time to climb. I’m going to work until February 2011 to earn some money, after that I go back to the US where I’ll buy a van to travel around!
The areas I’ll go to are Hueco Tanks, Indian Creek, Bishop, Red and New River Gorge, Yosemite and Squamish.