All-Round Que­bec Crusher

Em­i­lie Pel­lerin

Gripped - - NORTHERN FACES - Gripped

Em­i­lie Pel­lerin has qui­etly been climb­ing though the ranks in Que­bec to be­com­ing one of the best all-round rock climbers in the prov­ince. With sends of 5.14 and V10, she is one of the few that went from out­doors to in­doors and now com­petes on the world stage. We touched base with Pel­lerin mid-World Cup sea­son.

How long have you been climb­ing and where did you start? I started rock climb­ing a lit­tle over eight years ago in Val David. I was in­stantly hooked and then spent over six years trav­el­ling full­time for climb­ing. I climbed at over 40 crags in Spain, over 15 in France, in Switzer­land, Aus­tria, Italy, Ger­many, Tur­key, Greece, Lebanon, Mex­ico, about 50 crags in the U.S. and coast to coast in Canada.

When did you start com­pet­ing? I de­cided to com­pete this year for the first time. I ended up do­ing the full comp sea­son with team Bloc Shop. I know it is re­ally weird for an out­door climber to de­cide to switch to plas­tic. I felt like I had a lot to learn about dif­fer­ent kinds of move­ment where you’d rather fall on a mat than two crash pads and a spot­ter. Plus, life some­how brought me back to school at Univer­sity of Mon­treal, af­ter all th­ese years of wan­der­ing around. Comps are very com­pat­i­ble with a stu­dent life.

You like the idea of on­sight­ing, how do you train for it? I be­lieve there is no other way to train­ing for on­sight­ing than ac­tu­ally do­ing it as of­ten as pos­si­ble. Ev­ery route I hop on, no mat­ter what the grade is, I give my 100 per cent and be­lieve I can do it. I love on­sight­ing be­cause it makes me feel free, it’s all about how quickly and well you adapt to a new sit­u­a­tion that is right in front of you and not about how you re­mem­ber pre­cise se­quences and ex­e­cute them per­fectly.

You climbed 5.14 in 2016. Did you feel you were at your strong­est or was it the right route at the right time? I have climbed other 5.14 routes be­fore, but they ei­ther got down­graded or are on closed land. So let’s say it was my first one. I’ve also done routes with a lower grade that felt quite a bit harder. Grades are weird mea­sure­ments used to see more-or-less how hard a climb should feel. I think they’re rel­a­tive and not very pre­cise, es­pe­cially when you’re not the stan­dard size. I don’t think I was at my ab­so­lute strong­est that day, but was feel­ing pretty good. The 5.13ds I did in Que­bec last sum­mer are harder than Tom et Je Ris, which is not con­sid­ered to be an easy one ei­ther.

How did you cel­e­brate your send? I had a Bel­gian beer in a camper­ized sprinter van with good com­pany, but it took a lot of work for it to come to­gether. It took a num­ber of trips be­tween heavy rain storms. I of­ten had to con­vince my friend Max to come and be­lay me be­cause the line is there by it­self, a three-hour drive from our place. Then we had to walk an hour and head down the 60- me­tre over­hang­ing rap­pel. Af­ter one big storm, I rap­pelled down to find the tufa and face dripping wet. I worked on some moves, as the cruxes weren’t too wet. A few days af­ter climb­ing in Ver­don, my skin was wrecked. We went back the next day and it was still dripping but not quite as bad as the day be­fore and I got it first go. Ev­ery­thing was in place, I didn’t have to fight very much even though wa­ter was dripping from my el­bows on some of the rests.

Where were your V10 sends? I’m not re­ally a boul­derer. I think first time I gave a boul­der more than 10 tries was this year. The first V10 I sent was in Al­bar­racin, it’s called Mo­tivos Per­son­ales. You start low and head into pumpy, phys­i­cal moves through a roof fol­lowed by a man­tle. Then I did another one in Fon­tainebleau, but I didn’t care very much about boul­der­ing at that point. I sort of had the im­pres­sion pretty much ev­ery­one could climb that grade when you men­tion, say, its French equiv­a­lent 7c+. It sounds much more im­pres­sive as a dou­ble-digit V-grade.

You’ve sent 5.13 cracks and taken some big whip­pers. Any high­lights? I’ve climbed quite a few of them, first one was Ruby’s Café in In­dian Creek. I got a bit frus­trated about that one be­cause I on­sighted it on top-rope and then led it. I’ve had lots of big whip­pers, where it’s al­most in­cred­i­ble I didn’t get hurt. I’ve ripped cams, nuts and bolts.

What are three of your favourite places to climb? This is a ques­tion I of­ten get and it’s still hard to an­swer. I like the change, so now that I haven’t trad climbed in a while I’d say In­dian Creek or Yosemite. The best spots to sport climb are in Catalunya, Spain and the crags around there. It’s amaz­ing how much climb­ing has been de­vel­oped in that area.

What are your climb­ing goals for 2017? To do my best in fu­ture climb­ing com­pe­ti­tions. I want to give the fa­mous Que­bec Crack La Zébrée 5.14a a solid try. For me it’s the most in­spir­ing trad climb in the area. Later in the year, I’d love to ei­ther sail the Mediter­ranean and climb on the coasts or travel or maybe head to Aus­tralia. I’m not very good at plan­ning.

What is one route in Canada you hope to climb some day? Be­sides La Zébrée, I’d love to try Univer­sity Wall 5.12 in Squamish. And maybe one day give Co­bra Crack 5.14 a go.—

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