Ardennes Multipitch Course

We spent a week in the Ardennes learning new climbing techniques! Our home gym Mountain Network organised a week-long excursion to the rocky outcrops in Namur province to teach us how to safely scale longer (and shorter) rock climbing routes.

A woman standing on a ledge after climbing up a steep rock face
Lieke leading the last pitch in Freyr, Ardennes.

What did we learn?

We were climbing all day every day for the entire week, so there was a lot of information coming our way. In short, the course covered at least the following:

A man in a raincoat wearing a COVID facemask standing in the rain with a climbing rope
Arie, slightly rained out, retreating from the crag.

The first two days

The first two days were spent mostly working on our outdoor lead climbing techniques. The group consisted of 9 climbers from all over the Netherlands. Our group had very similiar skill level and experience with outdoor climbing, which was nice. There were some tryhards (*wink* *wink*) but all in all we kept it light. We didn't climb anything too tricky, this is a safety course after all. You can go hard on your own time.

We stayed at Castel Pont-à-Lesse for the first two days. I don't like that limestone crag much. It's good to get warmed up and get familiar again with climbing on rock.

For the first three days we had Bas as our instructor again, whom we knew from the earlier Ardennes trip. He's still funny and still an excellent teacher. The course was led by Jeffrey and his boss Rob, both of whom have a very good explaining style. Low stress, just making sure that everyone understands the material.

A woman rappelling down a rope from a cave
Lieke on a 50m rappel from a cave in the side of the wall.

The last three days

On the third day we started working on multi-pitch routes. Bas had to drop out to lead another course, but Rob stepped in there. The third day we went to Durnal, an old stone quarry. It's hard sandstone and slate, which has a really nice climbing texture. Technically there are two pitches on this route, though the second pitch is only maybe 10 meters. We learned how to do emergency rappels and other rescue techniques here.

On our last day we did a four pitch climb in Belgium's climbing Mekka Freyr. It's a beautiful area with nice views over the river Maas and some nearby fancy palace gardens. The climbs were easy, and we got to play with twin ropes for the first time. Rope management was a problem

A climbing anchor with a tangle of ropes and lifelines.
Rope management at the anchor is still hard with twin ropes. Forgive us, we are gumbies.

It was an amazing week, and we now feel confident we can handle our own outdoor climbing trips. It was a ton of fun to learn how to do multiple pitches, something we had no idea about how to do. Yeah, we could've learned this stuff from friends — but we prefer to learn firsthand. There's no substitute for a well-structured course in our view.

A towering rock formation with slightly overcast sky
The rocks at Dave are great, nice routes. Shame about the location near a very loud, very busy road.

Even though it was low-grade climbing, we were still super tired at the end of it. Being active all day for five days straight, and not sleeping or eating much definitely took its toll. Now we can go back to work, nap, and recover for the next course.

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