Beauty, Barrows and The Beast

I have known Alex Barrows for quite a few years – although I actually came across his internet “persona” first on UKC before meeting the man who’s inspired T-Shirts to be made with the logo “Climbers Against Barrows.”

Most of the general public out there will know him for a number of reasons;

  1. Being on UKC News for redpointing hard sport
  2. Being the bad boy of UK bouldering by reducing everyone’s hardest ticks with clever knee-bar techniques
  3. For being one of the first Turbo-Punters to climb 9a.
The most hated man in The School Room

The most hated man in The School Room

It’s the getting to know the real Alex Barrows over the last few years that I wanted to write about. Not because I have a man-crush on him, or because he’s got one of the best teeth cleaning regimes out there. It’s because I want to get across to people that his recent climbing of Era Vella 9a, in Spain is only partly down to solid training methodology.

Both me and Alex are total training geeks and I’ve always enjoyed the various discussions about “how hard would it be to AeroCap the lattice board” and “why can’t capillarisation just be done at one intensity” etc etc…. but the thing that I’ve enjoyed the most is seeing and hearing his motivation.

Sure, he’s trained correctly, intelligently and consistently. BUT, it’s been with a level of motivation and psyche that is in my opinion a cut above the rest. I say this because I work with some really capable sport climbers writing their plans and therefore I know what the “Spectrum of Psyche” out there looks like! It’s pretty broad!

Font 8A and above AND... he claims to be weak?!

Font 8A and above AND… he claims to be weak?!

Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that the correct training methodology absolutely has to be underpinned by an equal (if not excessive) level of drive and passion for the sport. If you don’t have it, you just can’t put the hours in. Week after week, month after month and year after year. With no relapses.

The people I see who have this are Alex, Ethan Walker, Pete Whittaker and Dave Mason to name a few who I bump into regularly. People will always view these people as being gifted and having advantage over others, but in reality I’ve seen them graft so hard over the years and they always seem glad that they did. They don’t profess to having some kind of golden pill every morning for breakfast (Alex probably has Cod Liver Oil though…..) and keep psyche driving the correct training and projecting methods they already use.


So in summary, what I wanted to say was:

Alex has a beautiful training method (I’m sure many out there will be wanting to know if there is a “secret” to it!) but it’s driven by a deep-down beastliness for hard work and consistency. If we could all tap into it this coming year I’m sure we’d all be a bit closer to 9a….