Hailing from the Blue Mountains, Tom O’Halloran is one of Australia’s best climbers. In fact, he was the first Ozzie to climb the much-coveted grade of 35 (9a). Besides being a monster on the rock – a fact he highlighted at last year’s festival by climbing the iconic Wheel of Life (V-plenty) – Tom has clearly thought a lot about climbing and how to succeed, and this year he will be focusing his expertise on a redpointing clinic. We spoke to him about his plans for this year’s festival.
The day before last year’s festival you climbed the Wheel of Life, how are you planning to up the ante this year?
I’d love to get my project at The Underworld done. It’s essentially a boulder problem. Sixteen moves, no rest, V13 into V13! It’ll definitely up the ante in terms of difficulty and it’s a bloody classic!
Can you give us a quick rundown on what you’re planning to cover in your clinic this year?
Redpoint tactics. I’ve done a fair amount of redpointing now and have learnt a few tricks along the way. There are some really simple things to drop into your day that will make a big difference.
What one thing or piece of knowledge has made a big difference to your climbing in the past year?
Not getting complacent. There is always something to improve. It was so motivating to see how many good climbers there were at Ceuse. One day there were seven people trying routes 34 and harder at the Biographie Sector. You’d struggle to see that in a whole year in Australia. Their perspective of what hard climbing is is totally different to ours. It’s very cool!
One thing we know about you is that you’re good at trying hard. Is there a way to get better at being a try hard or it is just an innate trait?
Perhaps a touch of both. But I do think you can learn it. Working out if you are a try hard or actually trying hard is a good place to start. I see a lot of people thinking they are trying hard, but they are really just climbing to a familiar and comfortable level of discomfort then letting go. Dropping the gears and giving it some proper curry is a big part of getting things done. Be a try hard. It’s fun.
Do you have any tips for boulderers going into the competition on the Saturday of the Festival?
Skin is your friend. Make every move count! Also, you aren't going to go all day if you don’t eat and hydrate right. Eat some proper food and drink plenty of water. And having some good pals will keep you going on the one last attempt as the sun sets, you’re skin burns and your arms stop pulling. Smile. Rock climbing is the best!!
Why do you think climbing and bouldering festivals are good?
How good is hanging out for a weekend of good times with a community of people that share your passion. Meeting new faces, catching up with old friends and hearing stories from some old school legends. And there’s some good climbing to be done as well. What’s not to love!
Last year we asked you for your top five boulder problems that you’ve done, this year we want to know what’s the one boulder problem that you still really want to do (and why)?
Ammagamma! Because it’s Ammagamma! I would also like to get On the Beach done. I came close last year but hot and stormy conditions had me leave empty handed. It’s a beautiful looking boulder. I’d also be interested to see what V15 feels like.