Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dominating the Boulders: Paul Barraza

Berkeley Ironworks manager, Paul Barraza has worked with Touchstone Climbing gyms since 2001. Despite long hours making sure one the busiest Bay Area climbing gyms runs smoothly, the 36 year old has managed to crush many difficult boulder problems in the Sierras. Every weekend with an incredible degree of consistency, Paul drives to Yosemite, where he sends projects and develops new boulder problems. His impressive tick list includes Yabo Roof (V12), Shadow Warrior (V12), the immense Diesel Power (v10), and countless other problems. In's 35+ ranking, Paul is number 1 in the United States. In the first few weeks of February, Paul managed to put down a long time project- Dominated a V13 in Yosemite's Camp 4 Boulders. He took a moment out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for the Touchstone Blog about his life and his climbing.

How long have you been climbing for? How did you get into climbing?

I loved to scramble around in the mountains as a kid, but I didn't start climbing until I discovered the climb wall at Oregon State University 17 years ago. After my first trip to that tiny gym, I was hooked. Every weekend my friends and I would go out to Smith Rock and scare ourselves silly on the technical routes there. It was a good place to learn because there were tons of great routes of every grade and you learned to use your feet.

How do you balance a full time job, a family life, and still manage to climb hard?
It's not hard when you like all three! As long as you can climb consistently and train in a semi-scientific way, you can always make progress. Saying that, I have had long stretches where I haven't improved, but you just have to ride those out as well. The nice thing about climbing is that while you might not be improving - you're still having fun!

Can you describe your training a little. How does your periodization schedule work?

Basically I boulder/train two nights during the week and try to boulder 2 days outside on the weekends. During the year I will do an training cycle (where I do intense weight training) in the late summer to get ready for the fall season and a second cycle around this time of year to get ready for the spring season. Since it is too hot to boulder in the summer, I take it easy to rest up the muscles and tendons a bit, but I still climb and hit the gym consistently so I don't lose that base level of fitness.

Dominated [v13] from Paul B on Vimeo.

Here's Paul's ascent of Dominated captured on his iPhone.

How long have you been trying Dominator? What was your process of sending such a difficult project? What's next?

I spent about 5 years working the Dominator when the conditions were good. I joked with friends that I was going to write a book called, "101 ways to fail on the Dominator" because I had tried every conceivable method and nothing ever worked out. There wasn't much to the process besides being psyched and flogging the heck out of it with a delusional level of devotion. I think I just wore down the boulder problem to the point where it felt sorry for me, if that is possible. It did help to watch Tim Doyle and Randy Puro (both of whom have done the Dominator) get on it one day to actually see the subtleties in their beta so I could see what I had to do with my body. What's next? More bouldering of course!

Paul is a member of the highly active Beta Base crew, who have established a slew of Yosemite boulders. Paul has also done some excellent work developing a solid training program, which can be read about at his blog. Training 4 Climbing.

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