Home page Planetmountain.com
Jorg Verhoeven
Photo by Michele Caminati
Imst, Austria: Jorg Verhoeven
Photo by Heiko Wilhelm
Jorg Verhoeven, Cochamo Valley - Chile
Photo by Heiko Wilhelm
Jorg Verhoeven on Alma Blanca V13, Hueco
Photo by Jorg Verhoeven

Jorg Verhoeven: the past, present and future of indoor and outdoor climbing

36-year-old Dutchman Jorg Verhoven has been climbing for over 25 years and his achievements span the climbing spectrum from big walls in Yosemite to 8C boulders, after having won the Lead World Cup 2006. His thoughts about the state of climbing indoors and outdoor feature in the fourth article of our series created with Vibram, to celebrate climbing yesterday, today and tomorrow as part of the 'Learn to Climb with Vibram' project.

Jorg Verhoeven is one of the most versatile climbers of his generation, spanning the spectrum from intense 8C boulders to repeats of huge big walls such as The Nose and Dihedral Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite. In 2006 the Dutchman became one of the very first to flash 8c, a result which no doubt came about thanks to his vast competition experience which paved the way to his win of the Lead World Cup 2008. The 36-year-old has been climbing hard ever since and is even projecting to climb 9b.

He is a route setter at the Innsbruck gym, an international reference point for indoor climbing, and towards the end of the last season he surprised everyone by starting competing again, alongside many almost half his age. Unsurprisingly he put in strong performances. We dug into his wealth of knowledge to find out more about the state of climbing indoors and outdoors to conclude our series created with Vibram, to celebrate climbing yesterday, today and tomorrow as part of the 'Learn to Climb with Vibram' project.

Just like many climbers nowadays, you started climbing indoors. Can you tell us about that beginning? What do you remember, and what was important to you at the time?

Already at an early age I discovered my passion for the mountains. My parents took me to the Alps and Pyrenees and I was fascinated by climbing every peak I saw, always wanting to see what was around the next corner. It was my parents who took me to a climbing gym - which were still rare back then - and I knew right away this was it; it just felt right. I had tried other sports, swimming, judo, athletics, but climbing was different. It felt natural. I was eleven years old, and of course I didn't know back then how it would come to dictate my life, I simply was addicted right away.



If you compare those times to now, what has changed for those starting now compared to those starting 20 years ago?
Nowadays climbing has become a well-known sport in many countries, so first contact is quickly made, with so many gyms around. Bouldering has made climbing a lot more approachable as well, since people can practice it alone, fear of heights is not an issue, and it's easy to meet people. The sport has changed for sure, but in my eyes for the better, and even though the gym in Innsbruck is sometimes frustratingly crowded, I welcome every beginner climber, since I know most of them will enjoy it.

Outdoor and Indoor? Two separate worlds, or do they have things in common?

It's the same sport, yet practiced differently. Many climbers these days will never touch a piece of rock, and that's perfectly fine, just imagine how crowded crags would get… Climbing gyms can be seen as training, a social hub, after-work workout, a playground for young and old. While the focus in rock climbing often lies more in getting in touch with nature, having a nice day off from stressful everyday life, spending time with friends. Interestingly, high-end climbers - in both competition and on rock - are very similar, regardless how different they might feel. They share that passion of devoting their lives and working hard to reach a certain goal they have set themselves.


The bulk of climbers in general has grown so much in the past years. This is not an issue for indoor climbing, as gyms simply pop up where there's demand, but climbing outdoors is a different story, with many crags all over the world running into similar issues, ranging from access problems to becoming completely overcrowded. Imagine the most polished route or boulder you know, and then think how that piece of rock will look like in 50 years!

Yeah that’s food for thought. Talking about holds. How have the climbing holds, the boulders, and the indoor climbing walls evolved since you started?

I think there has been a constant evolution in indoor and competition climbing. The scene itself has influenced the direction of change; those climbers building walls and gyms, shaping holds, setting routes and boulders, ultimately, it was always those deciding the evolution. 

An ongoing debate in the international competition scene is the amount of influence route setters - basically, very few people - have on the sport. Think of bouldering, how it has changed in the past decade, moving towards the parcours-style dynamic movement we have seen appearing in competitions. Now everyone is doing these new-school tricks in their local gym, it's like a cascade effect. The question is, what's next...?

For those who start climbing indoors, but then at some point evolve and go outside like you did, what do you recommend? And what problems do you see?

I guess what is important, is the realisation that a crag or a bouldering area is not an indoor gym.  There's a certain safety aspect in this difference: I sometimes see boulderers jump around, mats poorly placed, no spotting etc., like they're used to when climbing in the gym. And at the crags loose rock, spaced bolts, route length and route finding can quickly turn into trouble.

Then there's also an ethical aspect. Outside, no cleaning crew will arrive each morning to dispose of the rubbish. Crags and bouldering areas are often in pristine areas and national parks, where few people can do a lot of damage, and already have done so. Just see what crowds can do to an area like Fontainebleau's Bas Cuvier, or Ceuse, or Yosemite. Respect is the solution to both I guess.

So what role do internet sites, Facebook and Instagram, and even videos on youtube, play in this sport climbing revolution?

The massive amount of easily accessible information being shared online - regardless whether that is news, a beta video, or a social media post - for sure heavily influences our sport, like it does in our society and everyday life. Think of how you choose your next climbing trip: your choice is based on things you've seen, something that inspired you to go there.

Technical knowledge is widely spread, how to train, how to learn technique. This goes all the way up to the top of the pyramid, where nowadays beta videos completely eliminate the need to find often highly complicated sequences on hard boulders and routes. Climbers are inspired by others posting videos, photos, IG posts etc. But it's like an infinite jest, with people spending more time watching 'climbing porn' than actually climb themselves.

So how do you see the future of sport climbing outdoors? And indoors?

That is hard to tell, but for sure it will be slippery...  Rock slowly deteriorates with each climber, so popular areas will not be as nice as they once were. We can be thankful that for our generation there is still so much untouched rock, not only in Greenland or Pakistan, but right here in the Alps. One day every piece of rock - which is a debate by itself - might have a bolt sticking in it, and several tickmarks on all holds.

Gym climbing I think will always grow faster than outdoor climbing, since it's so much more attainable. Most people prefer comfort, they don't want to walk an hour uphill to find out that their project is wet, or wet their pants because they can't find the next placement on a trad route. Gym climbing is nice to everyone. Except route setters, they're always the bad guys ;-)


Going back to your own climbing. What’s important to you? What have you always strived to do, or not to do, in the various disciplines?
Have fun, live my passion to the fullest. I've never cared where climbing has taken me, and for sure I haven't tried to force it. I just go with the flow, what feels right, and what brings me joy and happiness. Wow, that sounds very hippie...

Last question: the do’s and don’ts according to Jorg Verhoeven?

The three rules in Yosemite are, in order of Priority: i) have fun ii) look good iii) be safe. The rest are all minor

Link: eu.vibram.com/en/learn-to-climb-with-vibram/

Share


NEWS / Related news:
Barbara Zangerl and the invisible bond of a climbing partnership
25.10.2021
Barbara Zangerl and the invisible bond of a climbing partnership

One of the great all-round climbers of our time, 33-year-old Austrian Barbara Zangerl, talks about the bond that is created when climbing. Check out the third article of our series created with Vibram, to celebrate climbing yesterday, today and tomorrow as part of the 'Learn to Climb with Vibram' project.
Five must see crags at Arco, the birthplace of sport climbing as we know it
09.06.2021
Five must see crags at Arco, the birthplace of sport climbing as we know it
Massone, Nago, Belvedere, Spiaggia delle Lucertole and Calvario: five crags you must visit to savour the best sport climbing around Arco and Lake Garda. This is the first article in a series made with Vibram, to celebrate climbing yesterday, today and tomorrow as part of its 'Learn to Climb with Vibram' project.
The Nose, Lynn Hill and Jorg Verhoeven in Climbing Sparkling Moments
08.09.2021
The Nose, Lynn Hill and Jorg Verhoeven in Climbing Sparkling Moments
Podcasts # 8 and # 9 of Climbing Sparkling Moments by La Sportiva explore Lynn Hill's historic first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite in 1993, and a rare repeat carried out by Jorg Verhoeven in 2014.
Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven tick Tainted Love at Squamish in Canada
06.11.2018
Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven tick Tainted Love at Squamish in Canada
Austria's Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven from the Netherlands have both repeated Tainted Love, the 5.13d crack climb located on The Chief above Squamish, Canada freed by Hazel Findlay in 2017.
Peutérey Integral, the more interesting way to the top of Mont Blanc. By Jorg Verhoeven
29.08.2018
Peutérey Integral, the more interesting way to the top of Mont Blanc. By Jorg Verhoeven
Dutch climber Jorg Verhoeven talks about his ascent of the Peutérey Integral ridge on Mont Blanc, carried out with Martin Schidlowski from 13 - 15 July 2018.
Devils Tower El Matador climbed by Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein
07.09.2017
Devils Tower El Matador climbed by Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein
Video: Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein repeat El Matador (5.11a), one of the classic climbs up Devils Tower in Wyoming, USA.
Jorg Verhoeven, Katharina Saurwein and the Dihedral Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite
07.07.2017
Jorg Verhoeven, Katharina Saurwein and the Dihedral Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite
Big wall climbing video: Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein and their November 2016 repeat of the Dihedral Wall (5.14a / 8b+) and Final Frontier 5.13b (8a) up El Capitan in Yosemite, USA.
Jorg Verhoeven and the life saving climbing helmet
07.06.2017
Jorg Verhoeven and the life saving climbing helmet
The video of Dutch rock climber Jorg Verhoeven as he falls headfirst off a trad climb in Colorado, USA and is saved by his climbing helmet.
Jorg Verhoeven and the El Capitan Dihedral Wall interview
21.11.2016
Jorg Verhoeven and the El Capitan Dihedral Wall interview
Interview with Dutch climber Jorg Verhoeven after the second free ascent of Dihedral Wall, the difficult big wall climb freed in 2004 by Tommy Caldwell on El Capitan in Yosemite, USA.
Jorg Verhoeven claims first repeat of Dihedral Wall in Yosemite
14.11.2016
Jorg Verhoeven claims first repeat of Dihedral Wall in Yosemite
After 5 days of climbing Jorg Verhoeven has now carried out the first repeat of 'Dihedral Wall' on El Capitan in Yosemite. Until this repeat, carried out together with his wife Katharina Saurwein, the route had only been free climbed once before, namely by Tommy Caldwell who in 2004 established what was then considered the most difficult big wall climb in the Yosemite Valley.
Lifelist - Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein climbing in Australia & Tasmania
17.10.2016
Lifelist - Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein climbing in Australia & Tasmania
The video of Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein sampling some of the best climbing and bouldering in Australia and Tasmania.
Grampians: pure climbing beauty savoured by Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein
03.03.2016
Grampians: pure climbing beauty savoured by Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein
Three climbing videos featuring the Grampians mountains in Australia where Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein climbed the routes Eye of the Tiger and Groove Train as well as the boulder problem Wheel of Life.
Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein climbing in Tasmania
23.02.2016
Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein climbing in Tasmania
The video of Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein rock climbing in Tasmania.
Jorg Verhoeven free climbing The Nose in Yosemite
23.09.2015
Jorg Verhoeven free climbing The Nose in Yosemite
The video of Dutch rock climber Jorg Verhoeven repeating The Nose on on El Capitan in Yosemite, USA, in autumn 2014.
Jorg Verhoeven repeats The Nose, Yosemite
07.11.2014
Jorg Verhoeven repeats The Nose, Yosemite
Dutch climber Jorg Verhoeven has successfully repeated The Nose, El Capitan, Yosemite, USA.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Chaos Canyon - a bouldering Mecca by Verhoeven and Saurwein
18.09.2014
Rocky Mountain National Park, Chaos Canyon - a bouldering Mecca by Verhoeven and Saurwein
Jorg Verhoeven and Katharina Saurwein, currently touring the Rocky Mountains National Park where the Dutchman recently sent The Wheel Of Chaos V14 (8B+) and the Austrian repeated Riddles in the Park V12 (8A+), provide insight into one of the most famous bouldering areas in the USA.
Jorg Verhoeven: Freerider rope solo up El Capitan in Yosemite
22.10.2013
Jorg Verhoeven: Freerider rope solo up El Capitan in Yosemite
Dutch rock climber Jorg Verhoeven talks about his recent solitary ascent of 5.13a up El Capitan, Yosemite.
Jorg Verhoeven and the Zillertaler Hauptkamm traverse
30.07.2013
Jorg Verhoeven and the Zillertaler Hauptkamm traverse
In July Jorg Verhoeven carried out the traverse of the Zillertaler Hauptkamm in Austria. An unusual week of alpinism in the busy schedule of a great sport climbing champion.
Difficult boulder problems in Ticino by Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven
04.03.2013
Difficult boulder problems in Ticino by Katharina Saurwein and Jorg Verhoeven
At Chironico in Switzerland Katharina Saurwein flashed her first 8A boulder problem. Jorg Verhoeven made the first ascent of the problem Flash Flood 8B at Brione while at Cresciano he flashed the famous problem La Proue 8B.
Flatanger, Jorg Verhoeven climbs Nordic Flower in Norway
11.09.2011
Flatanger, Jorg Verhoeven climbs Nordic Flower in Norway
Dutch climber Jorg Verhoeven has made the first ascent of Nordic Flower 9a in Flatanger, Norway.
Monte Brento new 8b multi-pitch climb by David Lama and Jorg Verhoeven
31.05.2010
Monte Brento new 8b multi-pitch climb by David Lama and Jorg Verhoeven
David Lama from Austria and Jorg Verhoeven from the Netherlands have carried out the first free ascent of their "Brento Centro" 8b on Monte Brento, Valle del Sarca (Arco), Italy.
Lead World Cup 2008 to Johanna Ernst and Jorg Verhoeven
17.11.2008
Lead World Cup 2008 to Johanna Ernst and Jorg Verhoeven
The sixth and final stage of the Lead World Cup 2008 took place in Slovenia's Kranj last weekend and was won by Johanna Ernst from Austria, ahead of Maja Vidmar and Akiyo Noguchi. Klemen Becan from Slovenia won the men's event, ahead of Jorg Verhoeven and Patxi Usobiaga. Ernst and Verhoeven win the overall World Cup 2008.
28.11.2006
Jorg Verhoeven 8c flash
On 28 November Jorg Verhoeven from Holland completed his first 8c flash - Korrida at Misja Pec, Slovenia.

SEARCH news

ZONE

CATEGORY

Full text search

AUTHOR

EXPO / Products
EXPO / Company News
Planetmountain.com logo
Planetmountain.com: climbing, alpinism, mountaineering, trekking, via ferrata, freeride skiing, ski mountaineering, snowboarding and ice climbing worldwide. Furthermore the site contains technical gear reviews, book and film reviews, expert advice, mountain photos, sport climbing competitions.
INFO
The information is indicative and subject to change due to the nature of the mountain environment. Given the inherently risky nature of the activities described within, Planetmountain.com does not assume any responsibility for the use of the information published.
NEWSLETTER

SUBSCRIBE to receive the weekly newsletter with all the latest news from planetmountain.com

Recent Comments Ice
  • L'uomo Volante
    Il 10 giugno 2017, insieme all'amico Michele, decidiamo di r ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • Gallo George
    Il 16 luglio 2016, invogliati dalla relazione, ci siamo avve ...
    2017-07-12 / Enrico Maioni
  • All-in
    Francesco Salvaterra e Filippo Mosca 27 gennaio 2017, probab ...
    2017-02-02 / Francesco Salvaterra
  • Una via per te fatta in tre
    Prima ripetizione effettuata il 3/11. Da rettificare la diff ...
    2015-11-13 / maurizio piller%20hoffer