Jack: You are now British Bouldering Champion and British Lead Climbing Champion (nice one by the way). How did that come about - winning both events in the same year - would you say they compliment each other? Do you focus mainly on one aspect?
Dave: I have done the lead comps for a few years now. I think I've always been on the podium, so I guess I just got lucky with that one. Plus the final route was hard this year which will always suit me more, since I seem to get pumped at the same height no matter what the grade!
As for the Bouldering, I've been far too close to that one for the last few years, I was starting to think I was cursed!
People always associate routes with being an aerobic endurance based event, I disagree, hard routes don't have big holds on them, so it is actually quite close to a World Cup bouldering comp, where the worst case scenario is you are climbing for 5 minutes if you don't top it! So the timings are pretty similar , as in you only have 6 minutes on a lead route and are doing something wrong if you are actually on a comp route for that long!
I mainly focus on bouldering training wise, but I still like to tie in now and then. I can usually be found at Malham or Kilnsey during the summer (when we have one!) I think you can train more effectively for routes on a bouldering wall/circuit board than on lead walls, as you can vary the intensity much more easily.
Jack: Yes, circuits seem to be the popular choice. So how much of your climbing is indoors compared to outdoors?
Dave: Most of my climbing seems to have been indoors this year, no thanks to the weather! Any good days seem to have fallen on days that I'm working. I try to get out when the weather is good, I think climbing on rock is important for technique. It would be good to get away more, but unfortunately without financial sponsorship I need to work.
Jack: You have recently competed in a World Cup Lead competition right? Which one was that? Was that your first? You are quite an experienced Bouldering competitor these days, so how did it differ, and how did it go?
Dave: Yeah I competed at Briancon, it was my second international, I did the lead at the World Championships in Arco last year. I found it a much more relaxed atmosphere, but maybe that's because there was less expectation. There is no isolation for the qualifiers so you can watch everyone else, and there is a video demo of the routes played on loop, so there is no doubt about what to do, you just climb as high as you can. I made the semi-finals which I knew was a realistic goal but still a nice surprise, I finished in 21st.
Jack: So you've just competed in the World Championships in Paris, where you entered both the Lead (65th place) and the Bouldering (41st place), and is that it now for the year in regard to competitions?
Dave: No, I am thinking of competeing at the final round of the lead world cup in Kranj (Slovenia) in November.
Jack: So, give us an idea - what grade are the problems and routes in World Cup competitions? Approximately?
Dave: Boulder problems, I guess can be anywhere from a really technical hard to read 7a up to a basic 8a. Routes I guess are 8a+ to 8c, although it's really hard to tell when you don't top them out!
Jack: And how do you train for these competitions? Do you focus on a comp, or train more long term? Or not at all?
Dave: I try to train for a group of comps aiming to peak for them, it is really hard to climb at your best for long periods of time.
Jack: Who is coming through on the UK competition scene right now - who should we be keeping an eye on?
Dave: Nathan Phillips is looking strong at the moment, he was really close to making the senior final at the BBC's and can usually hold his own at team trainings!
Jack: It seems like a really vibrant indoor competition scene in the UK at the moment actually. But what about rock climbing outside this year - been up to much? Got any plans for trips / routes / problems?
Dave: I just came back from three weeks in France climbing around Briancon after the competition I did there, it's an amazing area. I also managed a few days in Colorado again after the world cup there, somewhere I would really like to go back to as I felt I was only just starting to understand the rock. The town of Boulder was a really cool place to hang out too.
I didn't manage much grit this year, I think I only managed a few days, but I did a few things: Jason's Roofat Crookrise, which is an amazing line and very easy to fall off for no apparent reason, so almost a relief to top out, and Brownian Motion at West Chevin, a bit of a surprise on this as it had a reputation of being reachy, another really good line. I seem to have made a habit of doing the morpho ones!
As for the rest of the year, I would like to go to Spain, as I've only climbed at Siurana. I would also like to go back to Switzerland. So I guess I'll have to see how funds are!
VIDEO: Dave Barrans climbing Brownian Motion
Jack: I'm pretty sure I read on your blog you had an injury recently? A finger? Have you had many injury set-backs? If so, how have you managed them? Do you have any advice for injury prevention, or training around injuries?
Dave: The best thing for injury prevention is to listen to your body, and learning when to push on or when to stop. Also conditioning is really important, before trying to get stronger, it prepares the body, strengthening connective tissues.
I've only really suffered from finger injuries. They are really frustrating though, and take ages to come right as there is so little blood flow in your fingers. I have found it is best to use them a little bit and obviously don't use any holds that hurt. Lots of icing to take out the swelling too.
Jack: And, finally, if you could climb any one route or boulder in the world, which would it be? An ultimate goal?
Dave: Tough one, the are so many inspiring lines in the world, it's so hard to choose one, I guess Action Directe in the Frankenjura (9a) would have to be one, it's a great line and has a lot of history. Although monos aren't my strong point so I would have to train quite a bit for it!
Jack: Thanks Dave - well done on taking both national titles, and good luck in Kranj later in the year if you make it out there.
prAna , Metolius , Evolv