EP 86: Dylan Barks — Spray Wall Sessions, RMNP Rampaging, and Recovering from an Eating Disorder


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Dylan Barks is an elite-level boulder and sport climber, and a dark horse in the climbing scene. He sent ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’, his first V16, just two weeks after this interview. We talked about how Dylan uses a spray wall for 95% of his training, how he prepares for both bouldering and sport climbing trips, and about recovering from an eating disorder to climb his hardest ever.

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Show Notes:



4:00 – Vanlife pipedreams, Dylan’s work and school, and finding his groove climbing outside

7:05 – Being in both the competition and outdoor worlds

8:30 – Bad haircut timing, and the alpine as a harsh and special place

11:32 – How Dylan prepared for his trip to RMNP, and spray wall training for both bouldering and sport climbing

14:11 – Dylan’s training philosophy, and why he uses the spray wall

16:24 – The value of benchmarks, and mixing limit bouldering with perfect repeats

17:58 – ‘A Day in Boone’, how Dylan has trained his capacity, and session format

21:40 – The line between capacity training vs. junk mileage

23:45 – Deep dive: spray wall session format

26:32 – 60 move circuits, running, and pushing through vs. resting

31:23 – Watching Dylan on ‘Wild Cat’, and his story about competing against Daniel Woods

37:00 – Internalizing the feeling of a move, and bringing intention to all of your climbing

39:17 – Sending ‘White Noise’, and finding another gear on this trip

40:20 – Taking the lower grade, and being his own harshest critic

41:32 – Where Dylan sees a lot of climbers going wrong in their training and improvement

43:44 – Coaching Jon, and coaching the team in MI

45:43 – Starting climbing at summer camp

46:33 – ‘Southern Smoke Direct’, taking a hiatus due to an eating disorder, and the light at the end of a dark tunnel

48:52 – Sharing about an eating disorder, and how Dylan’s struggle started

51:51 – Dysmorphia, and “Your body’s got it.”

56:00 – A couple of paragraphs from ‘Weighing In’

1:01:13 – Trusting the process, seeing things working, and the tricks our mind can play on us

1:04:57 – Looking at old pictures

1:06:04 – What 18-year-old Dylan needed to hear

1:08:28 – Going to the hospital, rebuilding relationships, and turning things around

1:10:48 – Mike, and “feed the beast”

1:12:14 – Untapped potential for strength, and thoughts vs. actions

1:15:08 – Navigating negative thoughts

1:17:00 – Using your climbing and training as the main driver for body composition

1:20:19 – Climbing ‘Arrested Development’ second try

1:24:15 – Mindful climbing, and being in the present moment

1:25:52 – Practicing mindfulness

1:26:52 – If you could only do one more hard rock climb…

1:28:35 – That “click”

1:30:14 – Southern sandstone

1:31:21 – Go-to climbing shoes

1:33:02 – Warming up your technique

1:34:35 – Trying ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’

1:36:04 – School, and getting out his “ya yas”

1:37:25 – Aspirations to be a pro-climber?

1:39:01 – Vulnerability and the gift of sharing

1:40:10 – Gratitude, and meaningful connections

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