Athlete Interview: Illona Pelser
- Name: Illona Pelser
How many years have you been climbing and how did you start?
I have been climbing for 15 years. I started when I was at university. Somebody took me along to a wall at a nearby school. I climbed indoors for a few months. Admittedly, if somebody hadn’t taken me outdoors, I might’ve lost interest. Thank goodness they did because then I was hooked for life.
Most memorable experience or send?
Gosh, there are so many. I think any send where you really give it your all is one for the memory banks.
How do you deal with the frustration of not being able to send your projects?
Sometimes you need to walk away for a bit. Go somewhere new and keep it fresh. Having little mini sends to keep your psyche up helps (i.e. easier grades that you know you can get quickly).
What is the first piece of climbing advice, knowing all you do now, that you would give to yourself if you had just started climbing?
When you’re starting out, get on as many different types of climbs as possible. Different types of rock, different styles. Don’t even think about grades. Just build up your library of moves.
What is your favorite or most used piece of The Edge ZA gear?
Tough question as there are so many options. But I am rather fond of my trekking poles. They’re light and pack away small and they make big or steep walk-ins infinitely more pleasant.
Any gnarly epics?
Topping out in the dark at Blouberg and scrambling out on some pretty loose ground while not attached to anything was pretty gnarly. Fortunately, the clumps of grass held and we all made it out okay.
What motivates you to keep climbing?
I just love it so much. It’s tough to keep away. It’s such a diverse sport that challenges you both physically and mentally in a way that I haven’t found anywhere else.
Plans for 2021 and the future?
To up my training game, especially mental training. So that I can send my projects quicker and push my grades even more.