James Lucas: Upping His Bouldering the Old Fashioned Way
Date: August 23rd, 2019
About James Lucas
James Lucas is the Associate Editor at Climbing Magazine and an obsessed climber. While he currently has a desk job, before he was hired at Climbing he lived on the road dirtbagging for about 13 years. He now lives in Boulder, Colorado and gets outside as often as humanly possible, as he’ll discuss in this interview. The reason I interviewed James is that a few episodes ago I asked for boulderers who weren’t “super strong” to volunteer for an interview if they’d had good success with overcoming a bouldering plateau through training. I wanted to talk to people in the V5-V8 range, and James was one of the people who contacted me with his story.
James’ story isn’t exactly what I thought it would be (plateau at V5-V7 for years, train hard on some program, get stronger, send gnar), but it is a story of good old-fashioned tenacity and self-reflection. James had a goal of sending Midnight Lightning (V8) in Yosemite, a boulder he couldn’t do in previous years. So he tried Eva Lopez’s training program, but it didn’t help his climbing at all. So he decided that his game plan to reach his goal would be to climb outside a LOT over the summer of 2018 and see if that alone could prepare him for Midnight Lightning.
His goal was to do 10 V8’s before Yosemite in the fall, and after 50 days in the alpine over one summer he did 6 V8’s, 3 V7/8’s, and 10 V7’s. Leading up to that summer, he’d only sent 3 or 4 V8’s and 10 V7’s in his entire bouldering career, so it was a big improvement for him.
In this interview, he talks about his process, how he made time for all of this bouldering outside even with a full-time job, his success that summer, and ultimately his send of Midnight Lightning. It seems like common sense: “Just go outside and climb – what could I learn from this interview?” But I actually got a ton of inspiration from James’ commitment to this process, and I learned about efficiently projecting boulders so you can send them quickly. I think you’ll like this one, no matter what level of climber you are, or whether you’re a boulderer or a route climber. The lesson is the same: Practice, reflect, practice, succeed.
James Lucas Interview Details
- Why quitting his dirtbag life in Yosemite made him stronger
- Why he decided to just climb and not “train”
- Why that worked for him
- What he learned about efficiently projecting boulders
- What Nina Williams taught him about projecting boulders
- How he did 50 days in the alpine with a full-time job
- What he eats on big alpine bouldering days
James Lucas Links
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Photo by Dean Fidelman @pitcures_of_fidelman of James on Midnight Lightning