My very first climbing years I’ve spent a lot of time climbing indoor and participating in multiple competitions. I excelled in ‘sport climbing’ and was completely sold for this sport. I took part in my first competition in 2002, at the age of eleven. Pretty fast I became Belgian youth champion four times in a row and won some other competitions as well. As a teenager I participated for several years in the European Youth Cup with the Belgian Youth Climbing Team. In my opinion, my best competition results were a second place at the Belgian Bouldering Championship both in 2009 and 2010.
Next to competition climbing I discovered ‘rock climbing’, this became a real obsession to me. Between the ages of 14 and 18, I left Belgium every single school holiday to go rock climbing at beautiful places in nature in foreign country’s. With loads of help from my former trainer, Jorn Van Roy, I succeeded to raise my climbing level up to 8b+/8c at a very young age. Gradually, the centre of my passion shifted from competition climbing to the more adventurous rock climbing.
In those years I climbed a lot with high end climbers from whom I learned a lot and proved a source of inspiration. I climbed at a high rhythm and developed a good spirit that helped me to put down some performances at this young age. My best performance in sport climbing I did at an age of 17 with the ascent of my first 8C ‘Les Maux de la Fin’ in the French climbing area Gorges du Loup near Nice.
In June 2010 I finished high school and had to make the decision every teenager at the age of 18 has to make. Climbing was a passion and resulted really quickly in a new lifestyle. I spend loads of time and energy searching for the right study but couldn’t find one that inspired me as much as climbing. Moreover, I developed a big passion for traveling and the beauty of meeting new people and interesting cultures. The ideal combination with climbing in nature.
The summer of 2010 I left Belgium at the age of 18 to take a two month trip on my own through Canada and the United States. I climbed with a lot of different people and personalities and discovered the life of a traveler. Faster than I imagined, I ended up in the challenging and inspiring world of traditional climbing. I learned the skills of trad climbing where the mental factor is even more important as in sport climbing. Placing you own safety equipment while climbing your way up, proved to be a real challenge for the trad climbing rookie. I started to climb bigger walls where reaching the top in an ethical manner is priority.
Back in Belgium I realized I wanted to see more of the world, I had to make a new trip but now an even longer one. Thanks to the consent of my parents I made the decision to focus one year on traveling and climbing. First I worked a couple months to earn enough money to realize a dream.
January 2011 I left again on my own towards the United States, this time for a seven month period.
I bought a Chevy Van and traveled around the West Coast from South to North to carry out my passion in the most beautiful climbing areas. I practiced more or less every climbing discipline: from bouldering to sport climbing and from traditional climbing single pitches to ascends of big walls in Yosemite (US) and the Bugaboos (CAN). You can find a list of all the places I visited and climbed in the map ‘Trips’.
Seven months long I climbed and pushed my limits on all kind of surfaces. Mentally I became stronger and my all round condition progressed. Most of the time I practiced my traditional climbing skills and the skills of climbing cracks. This resulted in more adventure and mental challenges, something I’m searching for over and over again. Also I changed as a person and felt myself more in balance with who I am. Having goals and realizing those goals in climbing and life in general thought me a bunch of lessons.
Once again back in Belgium I was a lot more richer in experiences. According to the social consensus, students progress from secondary school to university. But once again I felt I could learn much more of life as a climber and traveler. All the good contacts I made during the year I traveled, resulted in lots of opportunity’s for new trips. This is when I got the invitation of an American friend to join a Big Wall expedition in Venezuela together with two British climbers.
At the end of January 2012 a young climbing team consisting of Mason Kinloch Earl (US), Sam Farnsworth (UK), George Ullrich (UK) and I traveled towards the deep jungle of Canaima National Park, Venezuela. Being the first team we climbed a virgin wall of 450 meters high and an amazing 100 meters overhanging on the table mountain Amuri Tepuy. In 15 climbing days and 11 days living day and night on the wall we opened a stunning line of 21 pitches behind the waterfall Tuyuren who falls down from the top of the table mountain. We baptized the route ‘Kids with Guns’. We only placed six bolts and climbed almost the entire line free. We climbed as clean as possible, leaving no human trace behind, showing respect for the amazingly steep sea of Quartz-arenite (Precambrian metamorphosed sandstone). We climbed the route partly free with a grade of 5.13a (7c+), A3, E6 6c.
After this amazing performance and experience I left on my own for the mountains of Argentina. Here I traveled two and a half months around and climbed in a lot of different places. I also joined the Petzl Bolting Trip in Piedras Paradas, Argentina, where I opened a couple of new routes. You can also find the details of this trip in the map ‘Trips’.
During the summer 2012 I traveled around Europe to do al kinds of climbing. I traveled several countries like France, Ireland, Switzerland and Italy. In Italy I found a project that contains one difficult roof crack and is named Greenspit. It’s considered one of Europe’s most difficult crack climbing lines. Greenspit is a granite line (8b/+) that has been only climbed a couple of times by strong climbers from all over the world. I focused myself one week on this particular crack and on the 31th of august I realised to climb Greenspit free while placing the protection.
Right now I’m combining my passion for climbing and higher education. From September 2012 on, I’m studying at the Social School Heverlee (SSH) to become a social worker. This study I’m attempting with an adjusted school program. This will enable me to combine this study with trips and expeditions.
I hope I will be able to find the right balance between my passion for adventure and climbing and my life as a student, hoping to develop my personality both on the level of sport and education.
By making big trips and expeditions I try to show young climbers and youth in general the other possibility’s to develop yourself as an individual. These exceptionally rich experiences will help you to feel more comfortable in our society right now.
Develop your climbing, develop yourself.