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Interview: Ben Davison

Here's a great interview with Ben Davison who came on Rock Action in 2010 and 2011.  He had only been climbing 6 months when he came on the first week.  Since then he's gone onto achieve great things in a very short space of time.  But you can't help feeling this is just the very start of an amazing climbing career.  He has an incredible approach with such focus and dedication and as he says himself hard work.  Go Ben.  Love to Climb can't wait to hear about your achievements in the future.  Interview Feb 2012

Name: Ben Davison
Age: 18

Where do you live?
Lesbury, in Northumberland which is quite convenient because there is loads of climbing here!

How long have you been climbing?
A little over two years now, not sure exactly when I started, but it was around Christmas time in 2009, or maybe the start of 2010...



Ben Davison Trivial Pursuits 7c Hepburn

Ben climbing Trivial Pursuits, 7c Hepburn

What got you into climbing?
I don’t know what made me want to start climbing in the first place, but the climbing wall at Alnwick opened at the end of 09/start of 2010, and I remember going into there and really enjoying it. I think I enjoyed it so much because there is always another challenge, and there is so much variety. I liked just working my through the climbs, and didn’t really mind falling off again and again because I knew I would do them eventually.

What are your best climbing achievements?
Well, I really don’t feel like I’ve achieved all that much in climbing yet, not when I compare myself to what the best are doing! But I was really pleased to do The Bourinator at Ceuse last summer, it was my first 8a sport climb and was the goal for that trip. Bouldering wise, I am hoping to do an 8a this winter, but have had no luck yet! So I guess the Yorkshireman sit start at Kyloe in the Woods would have to be my best bouldering achievement. It was my first 7c+, and I had always had that climb in my head as one that was reserved for decent climbers so was chuffed to do it!

Ben Davison Bourinator 8a Ceuse

Ben climbing the Bourinator, 8a Ceuse

Why do you think you’ve made so much progress so quickly?
I think doing triathlon and swimming for many years before climbing really helped. I’m not really sure, hard work probably, I don’t mind putting in good quality effort because I know it’s necessary to improve. Having goals definitely helps too, gives you a reason to put in the effort. Also, I was introduced to Gavin Ellis when I first started climbing, he has climbed a lot with some of the worlds best climbers and he was kind enough to help me a lot with my climbing, and he definitely provided me with a lot of motivation!

You come from a triathlon background?  Has any of this helped you in your climbing?
Definitely. As well as giving me a huge base of fitness, it has also taught me a lot of discipline and I’ve been able to apply a lot of the training I did for triathlon, the structure and types of session etc, to climbing. Perhaps above all it taught me that if I want to get better, then I have to work hard and work well.

What does climbing give you that triathlons didn’t?  What is it about climbing that has really grabbed your attention?
Well, I never found triathlon very fun! It was all work and no play. I guess I like climbing more because it provides a very demanding physical challenge, like triathlon did, but it is also very enjoyable to do, as well as being very varied which keeps it interesting. As well as this it has given me the reason and opportunity to travel more which I enjoy a lot, which is why I’m taking a gap year after I finish school! Can’t wait!

How would you describe your perfect climb?
With great difficulty... Erm, first of all it has to be an inspiring feature in a great setting, like The Young at Callaly. Secondly, it would have to be hard! And the holds would not be razorblades! That would be an ideal boulder problem for me, as for sport climbs I’m not as experienced but I’d say that I would prefer a route that was not a crazy 70m marathon, and one with barely any rests, especially no hands rests! First Round First Minute (Chris Sharma's new 9b at Margalef) is one that springs to mind as being a climb that really inspires me.

Can you name any particularly favourite climbs?
Boulders: Northern Territory, Prime Time, and Yorkshireman, all at Kyloe. Staggered at Bowden, County Ethics at Back Bowden (yet to do this one, but I’ve tried it!), and The Young (also yet to do this one), and it’s practically a route anyway.
Routes: At Ceuse Le Petit illusion, Vagabond d’occident, Makach Walau, Mirage (haven’t done this either but I tried it and it’s brilliant, and I have the memory of falling off at the top, flipping upside down and whacking my head. Lesson learnt, rope does not go behind your legs!)

What were your top tips that you gained from the Rock Action trips?
I learnt a lot at Rock Action, It was a brilliant weeks climbing with some great people, coach’s and climbers alike! I got given a lot of feedback throughout and at the end of the trip, one of the big things that Katherine pointed out to me was that my movement skills on the rock needed a lot of work. Strength and fingers count for a lot, but they’re definitely not everything. I learnt that I need to be flexible, be able to read the rock better, trust my feet more on some types of rock (grit!), and a really big thing is just to climb outside at as many different places as possible as much as possible. I remember after the first time I went to Rock Action I noticed that I was much more comfortable climbing on rock than I had ever been before, and I guess that was because I had just spent a week climbing only on rock and had received 5 star coaching throughout.

There aren’t many climbers up in Northumberland?  Is that a good or bad thing?  How do you manage for climbing partners?
Definitely not as many as in Sheffield! It can be good and bad I guess, although I keep meeting more climbers so I have a climbing partner more often now than I did! It’s good because some people don’t like a really busy crag, it can create access issues, and a lot of climbers will obviously increase erosion (Bowden for example is on life support now!) But a lot of the time I would like to see more climbers out at the crags instead of at the wall, I definitely feel like I can try harder when there are a good group of people who are all really keen to try their best.

Who are your climbing heroes?
Dave Graham and Dan Varian are for going out there and putting in the effort to find new climbs and climbing for themselves and nothing else. I’m always inspired by people consistently climbing really hard climbs, so Adam Ondra has to be on the list, Nalle Hukkataival, Daniel Woods and many others!

What are your climbing goals?
Overall? To continue to improve and climb at the top level, and eventually I would like to climb a 9th degree sport route and an 8b+ boulder. But that’s a long way off! For this year I am training for a trip to Ceuse in the summer, where I would like to climb an 8b called L’ami de tout le Monde, and really solidify myself in the 8th grade, as well as onsight a 7c and hopefully a 7c+? After that I’ll be focused on bouldering trips at the start of 2013 to Font and Switzerland hopefully, where I’d like to solidify myself in the 8th grade at bouldering too. The goal for the gap year in terms of my climbing is to give myself a lot of experience to really improve my climbing technique and movement knowledge.