Interview: Athlete Tom Farrell

Tom’s from Austrialia, and he’s nothing like the other kangaroos.

The Details

Name: Thomas Farrell
Age: 24
From: Sydney, Australia
Years climbing: 18
Hardest boulder: ‘Double Demerit’, V14, Sunnyside, Sydney
Hardest climb: ‘Who’s a Naughty Boy’, 32, Spurt wall, Grampians

How did you get into climbing?
My Dad was a climber and took me along to a gym when I was six – I was rapt on it. A few years later my parents opened their own climbing gym where I spent many an afternoon after school.

How did having your own gym help your climbing? Did you train in any specific ways?
I was pretty young (7-11 years old) when my parents owned the gym. I didn’t do any specific training but I did climb a lot as I was there every afternoon. I climbed with people older and taller than me which challenged my skills and forced me to climb dynamically. Continually climbing with stronger climbers teaches you a few tricks.

Do you train or diet specifically right now?
I’m currently training for some boulder world cups. I’m trying to make varied styles of boulder problems, with particular emphasis on completing them in as few tries as possible. I’ve also been working on my finger strength by hangboarding and I throw a weight vest on every now and then for a bit of variety. I go mountain biking a couple of times a week to keep fit. I don’t really diet as such but I do try and eat healthy foods.

Did you compete in youth competitions?
I competed in most of the Australian state and national competitions from when I was 10 years old. I also competed in lead youth world championships in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009. My best result was 15th in 2009. These comps provided good international experience however I have never been much of a rope climber. It would have been cool if they had youth boulder competitions.

Where are your favourite climbing/bouldering areas?
I much prefer to boulder but every now and then I get on a rope. Sydney is a great place to boulder. Scattered between the suburbs are heaps of little crags. They are sometimes not the most aesthetically pleasing areas, there tends to be a bit of graffiti and a few weeds, however many of the boulders are world class and at my doorstep. You can easily spend a few hours after work hanging out with mates at the crag.

My favourite rope climbing area is Taipan Wall in the Grampians National Park. It is by far the best rock I have ever climbed on and it goes for 70 metres. The Grampians are dramatic rock formations that jut out within miles of flat landscape. As well as being a great place to climb, the area is a cool place to just hang out and explore.

What are your plans for this year?
I am heading to Europe to compete in three bouldering world cups. I’m excited to get a feel for world cup competition and see what I have to work on. When I get back from Europe, it’ll be winter in Australia so I will get stuck into some of my bouldering projects.

In which World Cups will we see you compete?

I’m competing in three world cups; the first is comp is in Kitzbuehel, Austria on the 26th and 27th of April. That’s followed by Log Dragomer in Slovenia on the 11th and 12th of May. The last comp is in Innsbruck, Austria on 17th and 18th of May.

What’s your competition experience?
Aside from youth and national competitions, I competed in one Boulder World Cup in Brno, Czech Republic in 2007 when I was traveling around Europe. I came in 27th and hope to improve on that this time around.

What do you do in your non-climbing time?
I’m a roofer by trade, when I’m not working or climbing I’ll be out trying to hurt myself mountain biking. I have raced to odd downhill mountain bike race but nothing too serious. It’s good for me to have other interests outside of climbing, keeps me from going stale.

What are your long term goals?
Long term I’d like to continue to put up new boulders in Australia. There is an area 2 hours from Sydney called Bungonia that has an abundance of freestanding boulders needing to be climbed! I enjoy competing and plan on travelling and competing in World Cups as much as possible over the next few years – hopefully with some success.

Do you think you’ll ever be a professional climber full time?
It has never been one of my goals. I have wondered if the pressure of having to perform would take away from why I climb. That said, it would be unreal to be paid to travel the world, climb every day and not have to worry about juggling work and training.

Last: What would a day in your ideal professional climbing career look like?

Get out of bed and go for a bike ride. Hit up the rock or a training session in the gym in the afternoon, and still have time to plan my next climbing adventure abroad!

Thanks for the interview, Tom. We’re excited to see what you accomplish in the future!