When James was chosen as captain for the KZN team that went to Nationals last year I knew that it wasn’t just because he was one of the stronger climbers but also because he is a natural born leader. His keen street sense is rounded off with a sharp wit and fun-loving personality that easily garners respect from his peers.
Add to that his good manners and willingness to help and you realise why he earns the respect of all the adults as well. Whether he’s entertaining you by strumming songs on his guitar, describing action packed stories of his holidays or making sounds like a strangled Chihuahua as he climbs, James is a crowd pleaser.
But James isn’t just here to make you laugh; he enjoys a good hard crank too. He seems to enjoy pushing himself and reaping the rewards of knocking at the sending gates with all he’s got. Go to the UKZN wall any given Tuesday or Thursday night and you know he’ll be a willing training partner who will push you and himself to you both drop. And if you’re lacking a climbing partner, phone him up. He’ll always be keen and he’ll always try and make a plan.
Number of years climbing: Been climbing for 5 years, this being my 6th year.
When I first met you, you were trying to figure out the beta on Sip ‘n Fly, that notorious 26 in the Wave Cave. Next thing I know you’re tearing through 27/28’s in the cave. Seems you had a good season in ’09. What happened between Sip ‘n Fly and now (besides that you grew quite a bit. ;p )?
I have always had some strong competition with my climbing partner Jamie at school. When climbing on weekends at the crags I had to worry about James Meredith. I was really keen to try catch up to his grades. So being able to climb at school and then on weekends I always had someone pushing me, which I think helps a lot. I now know that it’s more mental than any strength or style you have, also its about good people you climb with.
What is your favourite crag?
Local would have to be Boneyard. But elsewhere would have to be Montagu. That being one of the few places I know but also the most awesome climbing I have done so far.
You like wearing either bright orange or green pants when you go climbing. What’s up with that?
Helps me sleep at night.
Your family seems to all be the outdoorsy type. Is this what helped get you into climbing?
Yeah it did help. When I lived in Richard’s bay I was always climbing things, from trees to cell phone towers. Then when I got to DHS my brother, being the first real climber in the family, got me into it.
What other sports do you do?
My main other sport is surfing. I used to surf before I got into climbing and the climbing bug has just taken over it by far.
Do you think they help with climbing?
I think it could have helped. Don’t think surfing a 4ft wave will help me climb a 20M rock face.
Part of the emphasis behind the Renegade Rock Tours is to instil kids with the travelling bug and get them to go out and explore. But it seems like you already have that. I know that you often go to Mozambique on holiday. Where else do you like to travel to and what are future climbing trips you’d like to take?
Being in a hostel with lots of boys coming from other countries made travelling a whole lot easier. I have always wanted to go to Thailand to do some deep water soloing and then go to Europe to travel around there. The way I look at it, the more you travel the more you learn.
You’re working at Spirit of Adventure this year. Is this helping or hindering your climbing?
I think it is doing both. My bouldering seems to have improved quite a bit. But my sport climbing has taken quite a dent. Hopefully with a little more ampingness i can get myself to start training on the little 15 grip wall they have. (haha, that would take a lot of commitment – Ed)
Alien or Predator? PREDATOR…Come now!!!
To read more about the Mad Rock Renegade, visit www.madrock.co.za
James Barnes Interview