Marieke does ice climbing: ‘It never goes wrong, but I won’t come home without bruises’

“I am a mountain girl, always have been – my father and I used to go on long hikes through the Alps. There I saw a few men walking with large backpacks and pickaxes when I was twelve. I want that too, I thought. A few years later I took a course and the fence was over – I climbed everything that was loose and stuck. I came into contact with ice climbing through my then friend Mark. He already did it and showed me some pictures. That looked cool. I decided to go along once and was immediately sold.

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Ice climbing

Now I go ice climbing twice a season for a week, together with my climbing buddies Anne and Mark. The ice climbing season runs from December to February – we climb frozen waterfalls and then the ice conditions are the very best. The feeling I have when I hang in one of those ice walls, in the middle of a snowy mountain range, is truly magical. It is so serene. After a week I can get back to it.

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Heavy sport

By the way, it doesn’t just come down to those two weeks per season, I prepare all year round. I train in a climbing gym, run and cycle and often go rock climbing in the summer and autumn. It has to be, because physically it is a tough sport. You first walk through a difficult terrain, then climb a vertical ice wall and also carry complete equipment with you, including food, clothing, ice axes and large snow shoes.

You also have to be strong mentally, especially as a first climber. There are no anchor points attached to an ice wall, which is often the case with rock climbing. You have to judge for yourself in which piece of ice you hit your ax and where you turn an ice drill to attach the rope to.

So you always climb a few meters up without a fuse. That can cause panic, you can make a slip. A piece of ice can also come loose when placing your ax, so as a second climber you should also be alert. By the way, nothing has ever really gone wrong, but you won’t get home without bruises.

Climbing woman

Stefan knew when he met me: she is a climbing woman. I also made it clear at the beginning of our relationship that those annual climbing weeks are really sacred to me. The children used to find it quite difficult when I was gone. That is now becoming less and less, although Merel is still disappointed. That is why we always video call before going to sleep and she can lie in my place in the large bed.

Fortunately, my family is completely behind me. What’s called: nowadays they all do rock climbing too. Did I light them nicely my climbing fever. ”

This portrait is in Kek Mama 15-2020.

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