Alizee Dufraisse - Switzerland
Alizee Dufraisse - Switzerland
Stepping outside of her comfort zone, Alizée Dufraisse pushed her limits on a recent trip to Switzerland, tackling a climb that tested her mentally and physically.
Off The Rock
For Alizée, projecting routes depends as much on her life off the rock as the time she spends trying a problem. In her words, “it helps me to not build pressure before climbing. ” She loves to learn and spends time working on her Ph.D., where she is exploring the relationship of social media to professional climbers and the effects that it can have on amateur climbers. “I also have a background in Russian studies and I love learning about Russian culture and civilization. So I watch a lot of documentaries/movies and still read a lot on the subject,” she says. For Alizée, her dog, music and yoga all play significant roles in her life off the rock, whether in recovery or in preparation for a new project.
Alizée's Favorite Shoes
“When I have projects, I create a playlist that works with every sequence of the route,” she says of how music plays a part in her approach to a project. “I don't know if we can say it makes me feel more inspired, but at least I feel more free and in the flow and confident.” Every mix is different. When she’s moving and working through a difficult sequence of a route or boulder, she might be grooving to Daft Punk. When she reaches a rest, the music vibe changes and it’s all reggae—likely Bob Marley, who she first listened to when she was 6 or 7. “I was always going to my godfather's room and he was with all his friends smoking spliffs and listening to Bob Marley,” she recalls of first discovering the genre.
Versace is an atypical project for Alizée. It’s a boulder where she’s best known for climbing routes; it’s cold when she prefers the warmth of the sun. The long, mentally challenging problem did, however, fit what is perhaps her most important criteria: it’s beautiful, tucked away by a river in an idyllic setting.
To get acclimated to the climbing in Brione, Alizée started on a number of smaller yet challenging boulders, warming up to the local style of the climbing and working to translate her skills to the problems.
With a few sends under her belt, it was time to turn up the heat. Alizée set her sights on Versace (8b), a climb she first saw in a Mellow Climbing video. “It seemed pretty cool in the way that it was close to the river. And I like the places where you're kind of like, insulated,” she says of deciding on the project. “When I was looking at the videos, straight up, I was like, ‘Oh, I want to try that.’” The problem is quite long, 17 or 20 moves, and Alizée fell quite a few times trying to work through the beta. Battling cold temps, she tried everything to keep her hands warm, from hand-warmers to shaking out at rests. But it wasn’t until a local gave her a secret tip to keep her fingers tacky in the tough conditions that the problem was unlocked—she sent Versace one or two sessions later.
The challenge of the climb went beyond just cold fingers. “ It was a mental process to send despite the fact that you fall so much,” she says. “To still believe in yourself, and not put too much pressure, and keep the psych on to climb and not just go climbing for sending.”
Injuries can be one of the most difficult things to overcome in sport. Not only do they set you back from your goals, but they also put slivers of doubt into your mind. Alizée experienced just such a setback after six hard months of bouldering in Switzerland. “I was feeling in my best shape ever and went one day to the Moon board to train resistance there,” she recalls. “I usually do it once a week, but this week I went twice, and twice on my hard project. I was feeling super good, so I think I just didn’t realize it was too much? Then I felt a slight tweak in my shoulder but finished the session. As it was not too bad, I kept climbing for the two weeks after on my project and fucked all my system up.” Alizée had to take a step back, and give her body time to recover. “I decided to stop climbing in order to recover fully and to take a little break after those six months of bouldering,” she says. “Taking a look back, I also realize that I never had six months of only bouldering, and I think it was too intense for my body.”