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Back to the Project

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In spring 2005, world champion ice climber Ines Papert, from Bavaria, Germany, took a 65-foot fall in the Dolomites. A huge flake had detached from the wall (with her pro in it!), severely breaking her leg. Four months later, with screws still fastened through her tibia, she visited Colorado to climb the most difficult ice routes in Vail. In the words of her friend and champion ice climber Harry Berger, “I wouldn’t go out this soon if I was her!”

The bad luck continued: Papert ripped The Fang (165-foot free-hanging ice pillar) after swinging into the top of it — but luckily not injuring any spectators. This didn’t set her back either. Bam! She was back to climbing just days later, winning the women’s division at the 2006 Ouray Icefest. Papert came back to the US again in April to spend several weeks at Indian Creek, UT, and Rifle State Park, CO, with her son Emanuel, age five, and a traveling nanny/belayer. I visited Papert at Indian Creek, where she was climbing 5.13 trad, and again at Rifle (she has redpointed up to 13c sport).

At sunset after a long day of sport climbing at Rifle, we kicked back and enjoyed a cigarette and a PBR on the tailgate with fellow Climbing magazine associate Greg Loomis.


CVL: What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever eaten?

IP: Weisswurst.

CVL: What?

IP: Bavarians eat it for breakfast. It’s a white sausage. You eat it with sweet mustard, pretzels, and the white beer, in the morning.

CVL: A beer in the morning?

IP: Ahh, not before 11. We used to do it when we [had] to be at the airport very early. I don’t like it but it’s kind of traditional [laughs].

GL: How long have you been in the US?

IP: This trip? About four weeks.

GL: You went back home after the Ouray Icefest [where she won overall in 2005 and the women’s division in 2006]?

IP: Competitions are getting kind of boring. There is a lot of waiting in the isolation chamber. The people are very nice, but you travel a lot, and you climb almost never. Just in the open, semifinal, final and then back home.

CVL: What do you like most about Indian Creek?

IP: It’s not only the climbing; there is also the silence and the sunset. The people are so relaxed. I don’t feel pain (in my hands and feet) when I crack climb. It’s similar to ice climbing because you wake up early, you get cold, you get painful pump, and get scared.

CVL: Do you like mixed climbing more then rock climbing?

IP: I love rock climbing in the summer and ice climbing in the winter. I could never climb the whole year just on the rock. I couldn’t get the motivation for the hard moves. After ice season I feel really psyched about rock. I’m used to having each season packed with climbing — there is no rest in the whole year. I start training in fall, climb ice and mixed in the winter, and after the last competition of the season, I start training on a campus board.

CVL: What about your elbows and shoulders?

IP: Ice climbing is a little bit dangerous. If you don’t take care of your shoulders you get hurt.

GL: What do you do for cross training?

IP: I train before ice season, but don’t ask how much [laughs]. It’s not that much!

GL: Do you do push-ups?

IP: Yeah: push-ups, pull-ups, and I used to do indoor training on the weight machine. This season, because of my accident, I lost a lot of power. Before [the accident] I was like, “Oh, who would do this?” It is absolutely stupid! But in a very short time you can do a lot of training. Like once I did 100 pull-ups.

CVL: You did 100 pull-ups!?

IP: Just once, and I couldn’t climb for a week! I’ll never do that again!

CVL: What got you psyched for climbing? How long ago did you start?

IP: I just started climbing six years ago. At first it was more mountaineering and long routes [she has climbed Aconcagua, for example] and endurance training.

CVL: You were a mountaineer for a long time?

IP: No, only for one year and then I got pregnant. I started sport climbing because it was the only thing to do with a little kid. You can take it [children with you] and you can train.

CVL: Do you want Emanuel to be a climber?

IP: I would love for him to like it, but I don’t kick [push] him. He’s tried laybacking in Indian Creek. When he was a much younger kid, I took a lot of care that he didn’t fall — it’s a little dangerous in the mountains, you know — now he’s so safe (he’s five!). He feels very safe on his feet, and that’s a good thing for the trips we are going to do together.

CVL: Do you want to climb a high-grade sport climb?

IP: No, I want to do high-grade sport climbing in the mountains. I have a project in the Dolomites called Candachima (8b, 13d), which is 500 meters high; two pitches very hard, two pitches 8a, one pitch 7c+, 7b+, and one pitch 7b. Last year I was close to doing it. Then I had a bad accident and couldn’t redpoint it.

CVL: All bolts?

IP: No. All pitons.

CVL: Pitons in limestone?

IP: Yeah, I love it. The rock is a little loose but you get used to it. I’ve done one long route every year for three years, so hopefully I can finish this project this year, because I lost last year.

GL: Where are you going after this?

IP: Back to my project.

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