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“The fall during the rope solo is constant and intense

“The fall during the rope solo is constant and intense

Siebe Vanhee has developed a taste for rope solos. In the Verdon Gorge, he made free ascents of Une Jolie Fleur dans un Peaux de Vache (300m, 8b) and take it or leave it (110m, 8a) in this demanding style. In the case of the former, it would have been an almost rapid ascent if not for this simple error in its single rope system.

After Siebe Vanhee managed to climb the steep, 500-metre-long El Pilar del Cantabrico (8a+) route in the Picu Urreillu Rope-Solo last August, he wanted to tackle a more difficult multi-pitch route in the Verdon Gorge: Une Jolie Fleur dans un Peaux de Vache (300 AD, 8 B).

I chose this line because of its steepness. Steep climbs and long rope lengths make the falls softer and safer.

Seven then finish

And of course he wanted to step it up a notch in difficulty from his last solo rope adventure in Spain, where he climbed an 8a+ level.

You just passed the visual inspection

At 8 a.m., Siebe Vanhee started the route at the foot of the Parois du Duc. After entry step 6b, key step 8b was approaching.

I was nervous but also confident because I had climbed the famous Hulkosaure route (8b) two days before.

Seven then finish

“But it was still a completely different caliber, a single rope.” However, his setup worked perfectly, increasing his confidence getting onto the pitch. He said and did. Now the chances of seeing the whole tour were really good.

Too Much Air Under His Ass: Sippy Vanhee during his chord solo from Une Jolie Fleur dans un Peaux de Vache (300m, 8b). Photo: Jean-Elie Lejeune

On the first 8a – a beautiful climb on monocoque tufa – he quickly felt invigorated. “I should have rested longer,” he recalls. “But that’s the downside of climbing alone, it’s hard to get enough rest.”

I struggled against the pump, but my confidence held me back, and in the middle of a hard pull I couldn’t climb forward or back.

Seven then finish

Falling is inevitable. He made a stupid mistake: he attached his stabilizer to the rope loop the wrong way. After a 15-minute break, he completed the field on the second attempt. Siebe Vanhee was able to climb the last 8a over the Verdon Gorge.

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Next Solo Chord: Classic by Patrick Edlinger

Two days later he won the Verdon Classic Take it or leave it (110m, 8a). The first two throws went well, although he had to get used to the style of the road and the steepness of the wall. However, in the following 7C he made a mistake and was unceremoniously dropped.

The fall was steady and intense, not the best experience. I have to think of something to make the fall more dynamic.

Seven then finish

Sippy Vanhee during his solo rope ascent of Verdon's classic Take It or Leave It (110m, 8a).  Photo: Jean-Elie Lejeune
Sippy Vanhee during his solo rope ascent of Verdon’s classic Take It or Leave It (110m, 8a). Photo: Jean-Elie Lejeune

After that, the famous 8a pitch with the wide key pull was waiting for him. Here too, he succeeded on the second attempt after overcoming the movements. “The technical style of the route and the fact that I climbed it with the rope alone definitely made it more difficult.”

However, rope climbing is an exciting and new climbing style for him, which is what excites Sippy Vanhee.

I can’t yet climb as freely as I can when I’m with someone, but the mental and technical aspect of solo rope climbing gives it an interesting dimension.

Seven then finish

“I love the social element of climbing. But the challenge of being able to handle everything that comes on your own is very exciting. Photo: Jean-Elie Lejeune

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Credits: Cover image Jean-Elie Lejeune