Petzl RocTrip Mexico Athlete Profile: Nina Caprez
At 23 years old, Nina originates from Küblis a small village nested in the Swiss valley of Prättigau. This alpine area of the Grison canton is well known to the climbing world, hosting the mythic cliffs of Rätikon. A couple of weeks from the Roc Trip we were able to ask her a few questions on her climbing background and latest ascents.
Petzl: Nina can you tell us how you discovered rock climbing:
Nina: Growing up in the mountains naturally brings you to the summits. Actually my first climbing experience was in France, at 13, following the steps of my older sister Cathrin. I signed up for a climbing camp organized by the Swiss Alpine Club in the Calanques. During the next four years I explored all the different aspects of rock climbing but mainly enjoyed multipitch routes and sport climbing. We traveled each year to other countries for summer camps. Then during the winter I went with my club to climb indoor. My first experience in competition started with the Swiss Youth Championship where I finished 4 th!!! I was then selected for the Swiss climbing team, participated in the World Youth Championship in Beijing and tried a few World Cups. I really enjoyed traveling and giving my best. Unfortunately, I injured a shoulder by overtraining and totally lost my motivation for indoor comps. I started to find competitions to be boring - they happen always at the same place with nothing really new from one year to the next. I then chose to exit the competition system, preferring to find my way in the great outdoors.
Nina enjoys cranking on steep tufas in Génat, Ariége ©PETZL/Lafouche
Petzl: Today you are one of the few women that free climb extremely difficult multipitch routes, what got you in this particular side of rock climbing?
Nina: It's kind of funny !!! In 2009 I participated in the Petzl Roc Trip of Millau, I really enjoyed the 80-meter Ultimate route. There I met Laurent Triay, one of the route setters. After the trip he offered me his assistance to go out and try his route "Ultime Démence", a long and hard route on the left side of Verdon. The route is five pitches long (8a+, 8a, 8a+, 7c+, 7c), I worked on it and sent it after three days. It was an incredible experience. I found in this kind of route the perfect way for me to overcome the pressure of quitting competition. That year I spend a lot of time in Verdon, Céuse and even went on a big wall expedition in Kyrgyzstan, later in the season I free climbed "La Ramirole" also in Verdon (8a+/8b, 8a, 8b, 8a+, 7a). From then on I knew that multipitch free climbing was going to be my core activity.
La Ramirole, Gorges du Verdon ©Sam Bié
So for 2010 after joining the Petzl Team I wanted to push that farther, instinctively I started looking at “Hotel Supramonte” in Sardinia, that route is really a step higher, 10 pitches (7b+, 7c+,8a+/b, 8a+, 8b, 7c, 7a, 7b+, 7b, 7b,). It was free climbed by Martina Cufar in 2004 and she highly recommended it to me. With my friend Cédric Lachat we went on a holiday trip to check it out !!!! A totally different story, the management of your energy is really tough on the 10 pitches, and it's quite a hike to reach the climb. After 2 days working on the route we were totally wasted and finally we got rained out. We came back three weeks later and both of us were able to climb it free. When I reached the top the feeling of achievement was so strong.
Hotel Supramonte, Sardinia ©Stephan Schlumpf
Later in the season I moved on to my next project, "Ali Baba" an 8 pitch monster route in the massive cliff of Aiglun (8a, 8a, 7b+, 8a, 8a+, 8a+, 8a+, 7b+). I had read an article and saw pictures of this route in the French Magazine "Grimper". This route had only been free climbed by 2 people: its creator, the genius route setter Phillipe Mussato and Adam Ondra. For some reason I had the feeling that I could do it. I started with a lot of climbing in Céuse to get strong and prepared for this project. “Ali Baba” is so overhanging and remote that you just can't show up at the bottom and give it a try... The first time I teamed up with Arnaud Petit. We worked on the route for a couple of days. A week later we tried it out bringing along Titi Gentet who roped up with Arnaud and I climbed with Stéphanie Bodet. Arnaud was in great shape and sent it, I failed at the sixth pitch, tried it again but was too exhausted, for me this climb is so intense that I needed at least a full week of resting after an attempt... Later in August I teamed up with Cédric, and there it went, climbing free, pitch after pitch was the most pleasant thing, each one is such a jewel of rock that it doubled my motivation, that was just the perfect day. After that I really needed a big break from climbing , but I just cannot stay on the couch !!!! So with Cédric we went caving, not tourist style but straight down to - 1000 m on the “Fromagère” and “Gouffre Berger” (two historic caves around Grenoble). And just last week we went on a huge 17 hour exploration in a new cave... Now back to climbing.
Petzl: What does the Petzl Roc Trip mean to you?
Nina: I've been to a couple of trips already, and I really liked the "come together" atmosphere and experience. The idea of everyone climbing together, without start numbers, giving his or her best and sharing different experiences whatever their level suits me much better than the competitive scene. From what I've seen every Roc Trip is a totally new story, and I'm really looking forward the next one.
Nina on Big Bug 8a+, Gorges de la Dourbie, Aveyron ©PETZL/Lafouche
Petzl: You are coming to Mexico, have you been there before?
Nina: Yes, in 2007 I went for a six week climbing trip with my sister and some friends, we went to El Salto, Potrero Chico, Guadalajara and also for some bouldering in the north of Chihuahua, plus a little surfing on the west coast. Mexico is a great country, with a huge variety of landscape going from jungle to deserts and mountains. On that trip we met a lot of climbers that welcomed us and showed us around their areas. I like the lifestyle, living in the streets, meeting people and also the great food. I learned the great rule of the Vitamina T : Tacos, Tortillas and Tequila !!! I'm super psyched to go again to Mexico.
Petzl: You will be giving a presentation during the Petzl Roc Trip, can you tell us a little more about it.
Nina: I will present my activity from the last two years and focus on the hard multipitch climbs that I’ve done. I'm getting together photos for a slide show. I also want to talk about the relations between partners on the routes, it is such a major factor of success. I just cannot go out and climb with anybody. There has to be an established friendship and common motivation. I need total confidence in my climbing partner and every one has to be happy about being there, for multipicht free ascents there are those days that you spend just hanging, jumaring, belaying and motivating your partner, then the next day it's the other way around it's your turn to climb !!! The organization and logistic aspects on these attempts have to be well prepared to reach success. There is a movie in project on Ali Baba, but it's not ready yet so to finish I hope I'll be able to screen TUZGLE (with link).
Petzl: Do you already have some projects for next year?
Nina: Well I just moved to France and now I live in Grenoble, I guess that opens the potential for more hard, long and beautiful freeclimbing. Here are few ideas : “Délicatessen” in Corsica, The “Petit” route in Grand Cap, and some more Mussato Routes like "Babel" at Glandasse....
Photo credit: ©PETZL/Lafouche