An Interview with Jorg Verhoeven
We caught up with Jorg Verhoeven, the Dutch sport-climber who won the Overall Lead World Cup in 2008 and was World Youth Champion twice, and was recently featured on the cover of Climbing Magazine.
Let’s chat with this dedicated and super-strong climber!
Editor: Thanks for talking to us, Jorg! It is an honor for us, and we do appreciate your time.
Jorg Verhoeven: Haha, I’m sitting in Font right now, and it’s been raining a lot, so my time isn’t that precious…
Editor: Let’s start by talking about your recent FA 'I Portici' 8A+ in Osogna, Ticino. Walk us through the technicality of it.
Jorg Verhoeven: I Portici is a beautiful classic problem put up by Fred Nicole, my girlfriend Katha was trying it, so I decided to go for a direct exit. It became a fun line, a little spicy, with techy moves higher off the ground.
Fans, check out the full video here:
Editor: You and Katha found some amazing problems in the RMNP and it was great to see you both suss them out. Colorado is extremely beautiful.
How did you feel about the work you did there?
Jorg Verhoeven: Work never felt like holiday more than in the Park ;-) To be honest, I kind of had a post comp season dip, so I decided to drop the ticklist of problems I wanted to do, and just climbed whatever I encountered and seemed nice. It worked out pretty well, I had a great time; the amount of problems in Chaos Canyon seems endless. We’ll be back this year for some unfinished business…
Watch the video featuring Katha and Jorg ‘Stomping Grounds’ here.
Jorg Verhoeven: Thanks go out to the LT 11 team, we had a great time shooting with them, you can really see the psyche they have for this place (they’re all locals).
(Jorg ended his trip at RMNP with the following impressive list of problems.)
Top Notch V13
Wheel of Chaos V13
Freaks of the Industry V13
Freshly Squeezed V12
Leviathan Style V12
Pterodactyl V12 flash
Riddes in the Park V12
Mirkwood sit V11
Blood Money V12 flash
Bush Pilot V11
Skipper left V11 flash
Running Scared V11
Editor: You made the cover of Climbing Magazine when you free-climbed the Nose in 3 days, winning its 4th ascent. Congrats!
What was it like for you to be in Yosemite, the birthplace of hardcore climbing in the U.S.?
Jorg Verhoeven: I always knew that Yosemite would be the prefect playground for me. This was my third trip, and I’m just getting the hang of it. There’s a couple of places around the world I really feel like being at home, weird to say but Yos is one of them. The Nose was the number one goal for me, and I have never understood why it sees so little ascents. I still don’t, it deserves some more attention, so I try to get others psyched.
Editor: Would you like to come back and try out the many gorgeous routes on El Cap again?
Jorg Verhoeven: Definitely! I’ll try to be back this year, there tons to do. Not the least the Dawn Wall…
Editor: Speaking of the Nose, you described Changing Corners as the weirdest and crunchiest pitch you’ve ever tried.
Can you elaborate on that a bit?
Jorg Verhoeven: Both hard pitches on the Nose involve a very strange style of climbing, CC is a very slick dead vertical dehydral, with a complete lack of holds, but for a few pinscars in the back. It took me quite a while to figure out a good way to climb it, I could always squeeze myself into the corner, but trying to move up it would spit me out straight away. Lots of patience and a good old grigri helped to free it.
Editor: You also spent time in Bishop? What was that like for you?
Jorg Verhoeven: I’ve been to Bishop a couple of times now, and it’s always nice to visit. I just love the surrounding of the Buttermilks, it’s the quintesssence of bouldering. A big round pebble you have to reach the top of. Plus that I’m kind of fond of highballs, for which Bishop is well known.
Editor: Yup, that's true. How old were you when you knew climbing was for you?
Who was your first teacher and where did you get your first lesson in climbing?
Jorg Verhoeven: I started when I was around 12 years old, in a gym (where else), in oh so flat Netherlands. It’s been quite a travel since, I’m constantly shifting my directions, although competition climbing has always been one of the golden threads. I’ve moved away from my home country, since I felt more at home in a mountainous area, like the Alps, where I reside now (Innsbruck, Austria). Both competition climbing and rock climbing has taken me around the globe, which I have always greatly enjoyed.
Editor: You seem inspired by Alex Honnold. Who are some of the other climbing icons you look up to? Bear in mind that you’re inspiring a generation of climbers as well.
Jorg Verhoeven: I never really had clear idols, it was more the actions of some people I admired, for example Johnny Dawes climbing in the Peak, or the Hubers in Yosemite. I get inspired very often by lots of different people, mostly by those with some self irony, love and dedication for the sport, and no fear for a good adventure.
There’s also things that do not really inspire me, for example soloing, but then again, some would say that alpinism or extreme highballing isn’t that big a difference.
Editor: When you’re not bouldering and climbing, what sports do you enjoy?
Jorg Verhoeven: Most sports that involve mountains fit my motivation. I often feel like being ‘out there’ in a cliché kind of way. It just takes a shift from the normal everyday life, which is university or gym training etc.
Editor: Where would you love to visit and climb around the globe? Any special locations?
Jorg Verhoeven: Ooh lots and lots, I’m not even starting, there no end to it. If I would start, Australia, South Africa, Greenland, Karakoram, Patagonia, Fiji, Seychelles, Norway etc etc.
Editor: Karakoram. Cool. Here’s an important and emotionally deep question that not many climbers are able to answer. I will ask Katha the same question when I interview her.
Why do you climb, Jorg? In a philosophical sense, what does it give you?
It’s a question luckily most climbers don’t have to answer, since it comes all natural. You do what you’re inspired to do, right? Apart from the everyday obligations, like earning money, getting a degree, basically making a living, I just feel like I’d like to spend the rest of my time doing what I like best. Good thing my girlfriend shares the same passion, since it would be hard otherwise…
Editor: What are your thoughts on the preservation of nature and climate change?
Jorg Verhoeven: Flying around the world for comps and climbing trips my impact on for example CO2 emission is pretty high compared to the average. I think it’s important to realize that sometimes staying at home, instead of flying around the world to visit a new area, can be just as nice. I’ve moved my home so that there’s plenty of climbing and mountaineering around, but I still love to travel. It’s a problem for all people who want to see what the planet has to offer.
Editor: Let’s talk music and books…when you have time, what kind of books do you read and what kind of music do you enjoy?
Jorg Verhoeven: My bookshelf is filling faster than I can read… Nothing specific, I love French and English literature, I don’t read as much ‘new’ books as I maybe should. Music is the same, I’m a little old fashioned, play the piano, love classical music, but also enjoy more ‘up to date’ sound like minimal, ambient or hip hop, drum and bass etc. i.e. not too picky ;-)
Editor: We really enjoy seeing you and Katha climb together and be super-supportive of each other. Do you enjoy the fact that she is always there to talk to about climbing and sharing the same dream?
How did you both meet?
Jorg Verhoeven: Ha! Climbing, of course. It’s great to share the same passion, but there’s also downsides to it. You have to take care to not always be together, living a life of yourself, spending enough time with friends. Katha and I have learned how to work together but also be a couple at the same time, which can be tricky.
Editor: Thanks again for talking to us, Jorg. Congrats and please come by and talk with us again.
Jorg Verhoeven: Whoop di whoop.
Interview conducted by Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
Editor of the Facebook Climbing Page 'An Interview With'.
Editor-in-Chief of ClimbSkiBoulderMagazine.com
Interview © Vera Kaikobad L. Ac.
All images © of the designated photographer and used with Jorg and Katha's written permission.
Jorg’s Facebook page:
Climber Bio: Dutch sportclimber Jorg Verhoeven won the Overall Lead Worldcup in 2008 and was World Youth Champion twice. From his new hometown Innsbruck he's pushing his limits on real rock too, in (alpine style) routes, and boulders.
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On the Cover: Jorg Verhoeven
Cover Date: February 25th, 2015