Europe Climbing Road Trip

Last week 6 of us embarked on an 8 day road trip. The intention of the trip was to drive all the way to Stuttgart to watch the invitation only Adidas Rockstars bouldering competition and stop off at Amsterdam to see the city on the way there and Belgium on the way back for climbing. My good friend Sarah who’s always visited when we’re travelling and is a good beginner climber came along with us and Taz’s friend Rick who used to climb. This is the first time I’ve done anything like this with my little brother Harry in tow and Taz’s little brother Tom! The Hull-Rotterdam ferry route was the most convenient.

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On the ferry we chilled with a few Stella’s in the bar and spent a good few hours in the all you can eat buffet which (I did have my doubts) was amazing. Sooo glad we didn’t bring our own butties on!DSC04653 Once on the other side of the water we drove the hour into Amsterdam and found a little French cafe to fuel up on before hitting a huge climbing gym called Mountain Network around the corner (a corner that took 2 hours to find). DSC04663

DSC04696 DSC04692 DSC04685 DSC04681 DSC04676 DSC04672The apartment we’d booked was 360 Euro’s for 2 nights and I was hoping it would be nice – you never know with an apartment… But I needn’t worry because it was beautiful, spacious, clean and in a really good (silent) location only 2 mins walk to the tram stop that takes you straight to the center. There were 2 bedrooms and a sofa bed ready made in the open plan living room. The balcony area with candles and a log burner just made it perfect! It was ideal for 6. It even had a washing machine with powder and a dishwasher with tablets (impressed!!) I highly recommend this place – it’s called Nicholaas Beets. Bringing 2 days worth of full english with us in a cooler box was my best idea yet. Mmmm.

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As recommended by the lovely owner who’s saxophone shop is below, we ate at the pub at the end of the road.

DSC04697 DSC04700 DSC04722 DSC04718We did the typical city break things like visiting many pubs and the SEX MUSEUM by bike of course. I left the seedier stuff to those that are into that kind of tat. I love cities and Amsterdam was no different, I’d definitely come back. I like sitting about in cafes, people watching and eating lots of nice food…

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DSC04847DSC04875 DSC04920And so we move on to Stuttgart but not before the almost 400 mile journey. Planned to take 6 hours – actually took 10. I didn’t know there were so many road works in Germany. I also didn’t know (maybe there’s a motorway we didn’t find) that most of the way was 2 lanes, not 3. Ouch.

DSC04933 DSC04941 DSC04940The hotel in Stuttgart was the basic but reasonable Hotel Astoria am Urachplatz. 340 Euro’s for 2 tripple rooms and parking for 2 nights. We checked in, had an animated discussion with a Chinese man about the bus into town for food and were on our way. Starving!

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I had a bit of a tired and hungry bitch about where to eat with the closing time clock ticking at 10.30pm – nobody but me being decisive about where to get food other than not wanting to eat at the noodle bar we were stood next to… the joys of group travel 😉 We finally found somewhere we all “didn’t mind” around 11pm and had pasta in a pasta place…

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This is me in a mood…

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This is me cheered up…

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Taz being Taz with my brother Harry.DSC04987 DSC04985 DSC04990

We found a really nice place to sit outside a bar that night and watch a stream of rather posh cars and some boy racers go past. You could kind of tell we were in the place that makes Merc’s and Porsche.

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Despite me insisting these were not anal probes, the boys theory was more fun.

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DSC05024The next morning whilst Sarah sought out a very important football match in an Irish pub the rest of us visited the Mercedes Museum. It was better than a thought, in a really impressive building where even the lift was a bit space age.

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Down the road at the Porsche Arena we nipped in to make sure we weren’t missing anything cool. We were! But it was alright we had plenty of time to visit all the exhibitions including the slack line, squeeze test, table challenge, portable ledge thingy and had a peek at the bouldering wall prior to the main event.

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The sports bar was calling so we nipped in for a few beers and a salad and saw Sasha DiGiulian in there with other climbers. I so wanted to ask her for a picture but she was eating so I left her alone! Times flies and we rushed into the stadium again to get front row standing. Slap bang in the middle for the best possible view.

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The competition was all in German (obviously) which was a bit annoying after a bit but it didn’t take from the atmosphere of the place, especially in the super final where Shauna Coxsey from England was competing against Julianne Wurm from Germany. Shauna lost (and it really did look like a fix to please the German crowd) but it was cool to watch anyway.

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We are in the official video at least once cheering, you can see us at 9 seconds in here on the front row. We spotted a few other from people that we usually see on the Sheffield climbing scene, so that was nice. I love it. It was worth the drive!

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I was happy to get a photo with Akiyo Noguchi after she failed to meet the Super Final and was right behind us in the crowd. She’s a really impressive climber.

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The next day we set off for the second long drive of the trip to Freyr De Rocher in Belgium where we’d booked a 3 bedroom cabin in the countryside which I was describing to everyone as “like center parcs but not as posh”. The drive which should have been 5 hours max again took more than 8 thanks to German road works and diversions. I couldn’t care less though, I was expecting a drive and was just glad to be going to a place we could climb on some great rock! We stopped off in Luxembourg for coffee. Once in Belgium we bought sausages, a sack of spuds and a big tin of peas from a convenience store, checked in after some confusion about how the hell to get in and made a nice tea.

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With every intention of getting an early night to be ready for a full day of climbing I went to bed with Taz around midnight but unfortunately the rest of the group kept us wide awake until well after 3am 😦 We should have known, being the only really motivated climbers on the trip! At 7am when the alarm went off I was pretty much instantly really pissed off right up until we reached the burnt down Chamonix Cafe, parked up and headed down the hill towards the crag. Only a 10 minute drive but also a 10 minute walk down steep and slippery ground meant that we were pretty much well warmed when we reached one of the walls.

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I started with a very easy looking edge so that we’d be able to put in a top rope for the rest of the group who were sat on deck chairs whiffing of booze. We abandoned this half way up when many wasps were seen flying in and out of a large hole just a couple of meters from where I was putting a quick-draw in. I bailed out and we moved on. No Thailand bee attack repeat here! The wasps must have been agitated that I was there because one came over to me and several more came out of the hole but there had been no sign of them before this. Wise decision I think. And only £3 of gear left in the wall this time!

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By this point Tom and Harry had retreated up the hill to a restaurant and didn’t come back for 3 hours, Sarah had gone to sleep the whole day off in the van. Leaving me, Taz and Rick. The next route we did was I think a 6a or a 6a+ and slightly steep wall but with really good holds. The rock was a similar climbing style to the beautifully shaped limestone in Krabi. Taz led this no problem so I had a lead after him and found it a walk in the park physically but a nice climb overall and although the top was trickier than the rest I flashed it and was pleased.

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Upping my grade indoors to be able to flash 6b+ leading comfortably, regularly trying the 7’s and climbing lots outside recently has really paid off and I was quietly having my own little personal party that I was able to do well on so little sleep!

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We borrowed a Guide book from the only other people at the crag, a couple from Sheffield! We moved onto a nice 6a+ with a tricky start (if you have no technique). It was a beautiful climb. After Taz led this route I top roped it in 1 go with no rests. It was starting to rain and I didn’t want to get stuck at the top where there were 4 meter run outs and have to send Taz up again to finish it. I’m happy I could have led this but it’s always a gamble when the rain’s coming and you’re short on time.

Taz did an amazing job that day, he has always been able to do longer run outs and generally has more balls than me. He’s inspirational to watch and he’s improved so much in the last few years since we started trying hard early, in preparation for the trip we did to Yangshuo last year. I love having him as a climbing partner and he’s endlessly patient if I start crapping myself part way through. He’s a good climber but thankfully doesn’t openly brag about himself, he just gets on with it. This is why we work so well.

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Tom reappeared wanting to climb as we were about to pack up and leave, but unfortunately still being drunk meant he couldn’t get off the ground either.

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Taz was on another harder climb and then the rain really threatened to wipe us out so we headed up to the van, having had nothing but half a croissant and a cup of fruity tea all day, it was time to call it TEA TIME!

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The next day it was seriously raining so we headed to the ferry and went home. We had planned a multi-pitch but rain is rain and there’s nothing you can do about it. To be honest we were pretty sore anyway from the walking up and down the hill to the crag!

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The all you can eat buffet on the ferry went down well. I could have sat in there all night if they let you! The rest of the group didn’t go to sleep and drank until 6am and the ferry docked at 8. I just can’t do this to my body anymore, I’m more of a “few beers” kind of girl. And I love my sleep.

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Great 8 days.

8 totally different days 🙂

Where to next Taz??

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