Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back to Freyr

One of the climbing schools I used to go to frequently was Freyr in Belgium.  Although from the outside Belgium seems like a flat country without much interest for vertically-minded adventurers, it hides well  some jewels for the initiated ones.  Freyr is one of these spots, rightly named for the Scandinavian god of productivity, sun, and rain.  It is one of the biggest climbing areas serving the North of France, all of Netherlands, and Belgium.  Even people from Germany and Luxemburg show up for some fun.  There are several separate rock formations, and over 300 mostly bolted routes. 

However, one has to be warned that climbing here has started in 1930ies, and that means that routes are (extremely) polished, especially in the easier grade.  Moreover, Belgians are proud in having a pretty spicy grading system, so don't get disappointed if you don't send the same grades here as in the more Southern places.  Freyr is in a way similar to St Llorenç near Barcelona, it needs some getting used to to start appreciating climbing there, but there are loads of very good climbs when you get started.  Below myself on one of those jewels, Heroine, 7a+:

Back to Freyr for me also meant seeing some good old friends I haven't seen in many years now.  One of them is Marc, one of the first people to tell me I had to become a sport climber one day, and to show me what difficult climbing was really about, in Ettringen, of all places.  He also inpired me in other ways, for instance to go look for his rock route in Peru (that unfortunately I never climbed), or to actually climb Grand Capucin and Petit Clocher du Portalet together.  Here is Marc leading the mythic God S(h)ave the Queen, an incredible 8a, from which the tradition says you have to be lowered down directly into the river Meuse.  Marc is still climbing strong and good, and maybe even coming to do longer routes with me later in the Alps:

And Wal, my first ropemate in Belgium, who introduced me to Freyr five years ago.  We used to play chess and discuss climbing philosophy in Chamonix, the classic bar on top of the Belgian rocks, full of climbers on hot summer days.  Now with new owners it is even more expensive, although climbers still keep coming there for a good Belgian beer after, or even before the climbing.  Wal gave up on his epic attempt to climb Schwarzenegger, another myth route in Freyr, after braking the crux hold on it and giving it over 100 tries...  He seems to be in top shape and climbing strong anyway.  Below Wal, working up to his highpoint of the day, same setting on GStQ, the first hard move on the traverse:

Finally below myself, cool photo by Marc, following the same line, awesome moves, but a pretty hard project, that might motivate me enough to come back with my shoes and harness here someday again:


JMC said...

Que sorpresa cuando un amigo me ha pasado la dirección de este blog y te veo hablando de la escalada en Bélgica, ya que precisamente este viernes me voy casi tres semanas a Bruselas.

De hecho, Freyr es la zona que está primera en mi lista para hacerle una visita, y cuando leo en tu blog que es parecida a Sant Llorenc más aún.

También tengo pensado visitar las Rochers de Neviau y las Rochers de Marche les Dames, entre otras.

Coincido contigo en que el grado de los belgas es otra historia, ya he escalado alguna vez por allí, y si uno piensa en hacer el mismo que hace en Catalunya va listo.

Salut desde Barcelona

uasunflower said...

JMC, espero que te ha ido bien por Belgica, Freyr es un sitio muy bueno! Yo ya quiero volver a Barna, que es el mejor sitio en el mundo para la escalada :)