Sweden Week 7

Each week on Tuesday night I go to the climbing gym in Stockholm with Ylva.

Klatterverket climbing gym Sweden
Here's a view of the Klatterverket gym.

The walls are made of textured panels about 4 feet square. The texture provides many holds which an old-guy climber like me can use in creative ways. The gym is about 45 feet high, and is pretty crowded on Tuesday night.

A day pass costs a reasonable $8 a day.
There is no belay test, so I bring my own partners who I know can belay me.
You use your own favorite belay device.

I climb with Ylva. Her name is Swedish for wolf.

Ylva Hardemark on the bouldering wall
Ylva on the bouldering wall contemplating a long reach.

She's an old friend who was an explainer at the Exploratorium. She has climbed with me in Tuolumne. We meet every Tuesday night to climb and to discuss philosophy, and words. I can almost always make her laugh when I try out some Swedish.

This week, two of her regular climbing partners show up, Magda and Tom. Magda has a lead rope so I get to lead. You bring your own quick draws and clip the bolts as you climb. There are 9 bolts and we have only 6 quick draws, but the bolts are so close together that I don't mind skipping a few. As always, leading feels good.

The climbs are rated using the Swedish system. By clever use of the natural holds I can occasionally climb a Swedish 6, about 5.10+ at my home gym, Planet Granite.

Ylva jokes that if I climbed here for a year a local climber might actually say hi. However several locals have already said hello and asked me where I'm from. So perhaps she was exaggerating Scandinavian cultural aloofness a little.

One week when I was bouldering on the natural texture of the walls by myself. I admired a woman climber climb across the same holds with beautiful style. At one point I pushed myself a little and made a long dyno off of sloping naturals to another natural hold a long way away...probably the best move I have made in Sweden. When I came down I found that she had been watching me. Her name was Kicki and she was looking for a partner to climb the toprope climbs. I said yes.

She asked if I'd like to try a climb she had put up? Oops! she was good enough to be setting routes at the gym. But I love to climb and I'm willing to try anything...on top rope, so I said yes. It was a great route. You had to use natural holds and to work out a couple of interesting sequences. I did it first time on-site and loved it. When she lowered me down I was ecstatic. Her second route was harder. Both routes were very much like outdoor climbing. As the night went on we did harder and harder routes, it felt great to be pushed a little. It felt great to climb the best I had climbed in Sweden the entire trip. I enjoyed sharing climbing stories with someone who loved climbing as much as I did. The next morning I was only a little sore.

The next week we met again, this time she was climbing with Anders the man who had taught her to climb. Kicki said he had pushed her to be a better climber. This night she pushed me by giving me opportunities to do many great climbs, and I did them...mostly. including the hardest and the best climbs I have done in the gym in Sweden. One involved bear hugging a column which did first time on-site, I was amazed that I did some moves that Kicki didn't do! (Probably one of the few times that will ever happen.) The bear hug was certainly 6+.

Then I did an overhanging corner at 6b.

I was doing so well that Kicki put me on one of her favorites, a climb up wall features only, no bolted-on holds. She did it beautifully, but I had seen a very strong, very muscular climber who had been doing everything easily mercilessly hang dog the route. So I knew it was hard. I started out by getting the first moves wrong and bailed off. Second try was good and I made fast progress until once again I was stopped, the moves were thin and complex so that even I was hang-dogging. Eventually my muscles burned out and I ad to lower. I guess 'm not up to climbing 7's yet.

The days are getting longer quickly, I have hopes to get outside to boulder soon. Today it was bright sunny and calm with the temperatures in the positive single digits, Celsius. Fine climbing weather.

Go To Week 8