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Words With Emi Takashiba About Sending Pulse 5.14a

The top climber talks about her first of the grade, comps and projects

B.C. crusher Emi Takashiba has sent Pulse at Cheakamus Canyon north of Squaimsh, it was the first 5.14a in Canada ever climbed back in 1995 by Jim Sandford. It comes nearly four years after Alannah Yip made history and became the first woman to climb Pulse.

In 2017, Takashiba, who competes and trains in Vancouver, became the first Youth C climber to ever be Canadian champion in Lead, Speed and Boulder during a single season. It was the same year that Yip was the triple crown winner for Open. Their coach, Andrew Wilson, said, “I’m pretty excited for Emi and Alannah. They’re the first-ever Canadian triple crown winners – and the only two in the country to accomplish it. I think that the fact both are part of the Climb Base5 team speaks to how our program supports athletes through all stages of development.”

In 2020, Takashiba climbed Division Bell 5.13d, another classic line on the Big Show where Pulse is. Other hard Squamish routes she’s repeated include Young Blood 5.13a and The Seam V9. We touched base with Takashiba about ticking her first 5.14 below. Be sure to follow her on Instagram.

When did you first try Pulse? My first attempt on Pulse was near the end of August 2020. I had just finished Division Bell 5.13d earlier that day, and figured that I might as well give Pulse a shot. I made it all of four draws with a lot of falls before I decided to come down. I came back in September to give the climb a more serious attempt, and by my third or fourth session I was able to do all the moves. It definitely helped to have climbed Division Bell first, since the two climbs share the same upper half!

How many sessions did it take? So many! I didn’t keep track, but it probably took at least seven or eight sessions last year, plus maybe five or six sessions this year.

What was the crux for you? I had a lot of trouble with two of the moves pretty early on in the route, at around the fifth draw. The first was moving off of two pretty small crimps to a finger lock, and the second was moving off of the finger lock and into an undercling. I wasn’t able to consistently stick the move to the fingerlock until maybe my fourth session of this year. It took a little while for me to start to trust that the fingerlock wouldn’t rip my finger out of my hand!

How many other lines have you climbed on the Big Show? The only two I’ve sent so far are Pulse and Division Bell, but I definitely hope to do more in the future! I’d really like to try all the climbs on Big Show eventually, but up next I’m thinking of trying Freewill 5.13c or Revival 5.14b.

How much do you miss comps? A lot! However, not having competitions has allowed me to focus more on achieving my outdoor goals for the first time. In previous years I’ve spent the majority of my summers training for the next competition, so it was a lot of fun to be able to spend more time outdoors.

What are you looking forward to most about comps coming back? I’ve definitely missed the climbing community and just the general atmosphere of comps, as well as being able to travel to the different competitions. It’ll be nice to see friends from all over the province and the country again!

Would you want to compete in the Olympics one day? Most of my goals at the moment are focused on outdoor projects, although I definitely still love competing. For now I haven’t considered too many long-term goals since I’ll also have to figure out how to balance university with my training in the future.

How often do you train in the gym and what gym? Currently I do three days of climbing and three days of conditioning at the Hive North Shore, as well as one day a week on ropes at the Richmond Olympic Oval. My coaches, Christian Core and Jeff Thomson, have been incredibly supportive in helping me achieve my goals.

Are there things that you’d like to see change in the climbing industry? Personally, I’ve been lucky enough to have primarily positive experiences with the sport of climbing. The climbing community isn’t perfect, but an effort is definitely being made to be more diverse and inclusive.

Who are some local climbers that you look up to? Becca Frangos and Alannah Yip are both incredible climbers and amazing people! I was definitely inspired by all the crazy hard outdoor routes that Becca sent last summer, and Alannah was the one who convinced me to try Pulse again after my first, slightly subpar, attempt. Both Becca and Alannah were able to balance university with their significant climbing goals, which is pretty impressive.

What’s your next project? I’d like to go back to Big Show eventually, and maybe start working on Revival, but I’ll probably take a bit of a break from that wall first. I’d definitely like to check out Battle of Evermore 5.14b in the Smoke and Mirrors area, or maybe try Spirit of the West 5.14a or Queen Bee 5.13c in Paradise Valley for a change of style. My favourite climbing style is overhanging with powerful moves, so it would probably be beneficial to try something a little more technical before getting back on Big Show.