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Projecting routes with Alizée Dufraisse

Projecting in Switzerland with Alizée

Currently our ambassador Alizée is over in Switzerland working a few of her projects in Magic Wood, Bavona and Cironico.


We caught up with Alizée to ask her about her projects, climbing in Switzerland and how she approaches tackling some of these incredibly hard boulders.


If you're looking to push your outdoor grade, or you're struggling on a particular route - we'd recommend taking 5 minutes to learn from one of the most successful climbers on the French national team (stated by and one of the strong female climbers out there right now, with four 9a sport climbs under her belt (and more on the way 👀).

Alizée working Tadjitsu, 8a+ whilst rocking the LARK trousers.

Very quickly, what're your thoughts on Magic Wood? Is it overrated?

I didn't climb a ton in Magic Wood but I wouldn't say in my opinion that it is overrated 😊


I think it is a climbing spot that is pretty popular as it was developed a long time ago and promoted as well by top climbers. So I guess it is easier to find information about how to make a trip there & look at videos about the climbs to feel inspired, etc.


There is also a climbing community established, with a campsite, a restaurant, facilities to rent pads, things that we don't find in other places in Switzerland, like in Ticino for example.


Adding to that, I think it is also a style that is pretty fiscal and without so many tricks, so people that usually train in the gyms for outdoor climbing can translate their strength directly on the rocks? Those are assumptions, but I think all of those aspects contribute to Magic wood being popular more than the possibility of the climbs being overrated.

Alizée climbing Kingda Ka in Switzerland

What makes you choose a project? Is it the grade, the aesthetic or both?

I think for me electing projects is a combination of the line's aesthetic and where it is located.


I love to be in open spaces, it makes me feel free and happy. For example, there are periods of the year when I feel like I want climb with people and see climbing more for the lifestyle/hanging out/training. Then I will focus less on the actual climb, and more on the nice time spent outdoors whilst treating it more like training.


Then there are other periods where I want to dedicate myself fully to something that is important for me - for this, I will choose the project for the aesthetic and location.


Sometimes I also like the challenge of it not being my style, or it being challenging for me in other ways (like being scary). When all of these factors are added, projecting and sending (if I have the chance to send), becomes extremely thrilling, and that sensation is why I love climbing!

Alizée making moves on Alphane Moon, 8a, in our GAIA Jeans

Talk us through your process of projecting.

So I usually like to invest two periods of hard projecting in the year, for example Summer and Winter.


Last year I wanted to project hard boulders in Summer. So starting in July, I was trying boulders around 8a/8a+ for a month and a half or so. Then I found an 8b that I wanted to climb, a very beautiful tall vertical boulder, super technical.


I tried it at the same time as another 8b more physical in another sector. I focused all August, September and October. I could send the technical 8b but unfortunately not the other one... Then I took a month of easier climbing again and got focused on another 8a+ and 8b for the winter! 😊

Have you come across any issues when projecting?

The main issue is the weather not being good and the season of the area passing... Like for summer areas it is snow coming, or bad weather and the cold approaching.


For winter areas it's the heat... This is tricky to make it work, as I usually need a long time to send when I am projecting at my limit; a couple of months to get in shape and ready to send, and then the time of trying the route itself. This can take long, not due to fitness or physically being able to send, but because I also have to deal with the mental aspect of sending a project.

Alizée sending "Second Life", an 8a+ in Nivo Bassa, Chironico

What's your preference, climbing in a group or going solo?

I used to never climb alone, but I was also mostly route climbing and not bouldering.


This past year has been challenging in this way. I started writing my doctoral thesis and it takes a lot of time, so in order to climb I have to be very efficient in how I plan stuff. This has made it very difficult to combine climbing with people as I am not very flexible.


I then discovered what it's like to climb alone, kind of by obligation but also I was curious. I had so many fears, irrational fears for the most part... Like not being able to find a place to stay in the climbing area I want to go to, not being able to find the boulder I want to try, not being able to carry the crashpads, having a problem at the boulder and having no one to help me, etc.


I took it step by step and realized that most of the fears were just constructions in my mind that were restraining me. It has been a very interesting process. Although I prefer to climb with friends and share with people 😊 Climbing alone can also be very pleasant and rewarding.

Finally, what tips could you give that you've learned from projecting?

If there is a move that prevents me from doing the boulder, I think in my mind what little exercises I could create for helping me get this move.


Usually It's something I can analyse and then work on - Generally I don't do specific exercises, like hang training to strengthen my finger.


For example, I'll film what I do then review my body position, and work on that... like if my hips aren't close enough to the wall, I'll practice this by standing in front of a wall and squat down whilst trying to keep my hips close to the wall. Balance is another one, and again I'll analyse the video then try to recreate it to improve.


Once a week i'll do physical training but this is mainly to prevent injury.


If i need to improve a specific strength like finger strength, i'll work this on the boulder. So I'll try the move until i get it once in a session, then hopefully next session i'll get it twice and work strength this way until it's comfortable.

Alizée with another 8a ascent in Switzerland, wearing our Bellamy sweat

Some of Alizée's favourites

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