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On the Road with Nina Caprez

On the Road with Nina Caprez
On the Road with Nina Caprez
October 27, 2011 -  Nancy Prichard-Bouchard    

Nina Caprez does it all. From difficult  multipitch roped climbs to impossible bouldering, the Swiss-born Caprez is a climber’s climber. Born on November 15th, 1986 in Kueblis, Switzerland, a small town in the magnificent Praettigau Valley, Caprez quickly developed an appreciation of the outdoors. Caprez, with her two older siblings, explored the vast alpine environment. “Life took me everywhere from snowboarding and mountain biking to 4000 meter peaks,” reminisces Caprez, who also plays the flute and piano. But, she says, climbing is her great passion.


1.      How did you get started climbing?

I was born in the Swiss mountains. So naturally I grew up mountaineering and multipitch climbing. I only started sport climbing when I was 17 years old.  Since then, my passion for nature and the rock has been strong--I spend all my live outside, with nature.

2.      What attracted you to the sport?

The diversity of this activity is huge. I do bouldering in gym during the cold winter for train, in spring I go sport climbing to get into shape, in summer I realize hard multipitch routes and when I'm exhausted, I do easy multipitch climbing like in the Gorges of Verdon or trad climbing in the mountains of Chamonix or bolting some new lines in exotic places like Cuba. Climbing is never boring and you can discover new thing every day. It's just fantastic!

3.     Have you competed in rock climbing competitions? Is “adventure” climbing compatible with competitive climbing? What is good about competitive climbing?

For me, I can't compare competitions with adventure climbing. The way to train can be the same, but with competitions; you are climbing for your own success. In multipitch climbing it's the opposite. Everything depends on you and your partner sharing everything together. That’s why I do multi-pitch routes: sharing the most beautiful moments in climbing with someone, that's living!

4.      How has your climbing evolved over the years?

After a while, I lost the motivation for competitions and I started to concentrate more and more on what was for me pure rock climbing. I travelled all around the world and climbed on all kinds of rocks. From big wall climbing in Patagonia and Kyrgyzstan to boulder trips in Argentina, to deep water soloing in Thailand to sport climbing all around Europe and America. All these experiences and all these different styles of rock climbing gave so much practice, they made me the well-rounded climber I am now.

5.      What are you most proud of?

Through all these experiences as a rock climber, I found my big challenge: I want to climb the hardest multi pitch routes in the world. To be able to climb a hard multi pitch route in one day, that is my goal and what I am searching for. Routes like 'Ultime Démence', 5 pitches 8a+ or 'la Ramirole', 5 pitches 8b, Hotel Supramonte, 10 pitches 8b and Silbergeier, 6 pitches 8b+,are the most beautiful successes in my climbing life.

6.      When/where was your first climbing trip? What did you do?

My first real climbing trip was to the gorges of Tarn and Céuse. I felt in love with thie huge rocks and also with the mentality of France. My first big trip was an expedition to Patagonia. We were climbing in the Torres des Paine, it was a great experience in trad climbing and snow and ice.  

7.      How has the sport changed over the years?

Over my year of climbing I realized that my climbing path didn't go in the usual direction. Competition and sport climbing become boring in large doses. I was looking after the adventure...this was the reason why I focused on hard multi pitch climbing. It was a good mix of hard climbing, adventure, and immersion in nature but not an extreme risk of life.

8.      What tips do you have for people getting involved in the sport?

People should listen to their body. They don't have to do what all the people do. They should discover this sport on their own terms, should dare to do some crazy trips and remember that climbing is always fun!

9.      Tell us a story about a memorable day of climbing.

Probably due to the fact, that I started to climb in the Rätikon where the bolts are really far apart, with much exposure, I don’t seem to have developed the same dose of fear as other people. Climbing with me is always fun because I'm not scared at all. But recently I was in a bad position where I couldn’t fall and my legs begin to tremble like a sewing machine. Now I can understand the word fear and honestly, I love it!

10.      When did you know that climbing would always be a part of your life?

My passion for climbing started as soon as I stepped into my first real climbing shoes.  I knew that this is my sport. I grew up in the middle of the Swiss mountains in a valley called Prattigau, so the mountains were always a part of my life, from snowboarding and mountain biking to hiking and climbing. After finishing high school, finding no solid direction in normal life I decided to leave the "routine" and chose to continue my life as a climber. My desire to practice this sport with all his facets was so strong that I was able to overcome all the obstacles that I came across. It really allowed me to live my own lifestyle. Besides rock climbing and mountaineering I also spent time competing. During this time, I learned a lot how I have to train and what I have to do, to become a stronger climber. This made me become an even stronger rock-climber, quickly making it possible for me to red-point my first 8b route. I love my 'non-system' life. To be able to decide for myself how I will earn my money, where I will live, when I will get up in the morning. To do what I need to do to survive, with most importantly: to enjoy every single day, with the least amount of seriousness as possible and to climb to my very best!

11.      What attracts you to the sport?
Climbing makes me happy!


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