Ben Cossey 🐕😍 just climbed The RED Project (35) at Diamond Falls, becoming the second Aussie to climb that grade. We had a little chat with him to find out more.
Last weekend you climbed The Red Project, how did it go down?
Hmmm, well, like any route, I tied in at the bottom and hoped to get to the top, it just so happened that the time I did it I didn’t fall off, which was nice.
I had been getting seriously over the cold weather and the wind that had plagued previous days – I wasn’t getting anywhere as I was freezing-out way before even getting to the crux plus I had to climb in heaps of layers (even a downie) which hampers my mobility. The day I did it was warmer and a bit more still, I could get warm and not freeze-out and friction was good (for me).
A few days before Garth (THE Garth) and I did some endurance training. I hadn’t done any for a few years, so I think that made a difference too.
By our calculations this makes you only the second Aussie to climb 35/9a, a very nice sounding number, how does that feel?
Hmmm, I don’t really think about the grade as such. It’s nice to’ve done something I had put effort into – I haven’t done that for a while. For me, The Red Project is THE RED PROJECT. The importance of grade is diminished by the simple fact that it is IT. Since I was 14 it has had an awe about it – DF [Diamond Falls] was the hardest crag in the country and The Red Project was the undone line up the wall. I feel having done it now, wraps a neat little bow around the story.
We’ve heard The Red Project is very conditions dependent, were conditions primo on the weekend or are you just in amazing shape?
A few routes at DF are super conditionsy and The RED Project is even more so. Because it’s not super steep, the holds are fairly crap but they’re pretty gritty, if it’s even slight less cold/breezy conditions are can be tragic (even when other routes feel good). I’m not in amazing shape. I hope to be again sometime soon. 😜
Had you been trying it for a long time?
I’ve jumped on it here and there over the years. It’s felt ok sometimes and frustrating other times (probably a lot of the time due to condos and skin). This year, including the average weather days, I tried it maybe six days. Something like that. I had never actually been to the top before this season, come to think of it.
What inspired you to get on the route?
It’s an important route/project for me and I’ve always been keen to do it. Lee [Cossey] was trying it, and since ceasing my full-time employment down in the Big Smoke I had more days to climb, seeing as though we’d gone through a drought as far as climbing with one another, we took the opportunity to do so, et voila.
Did you use any different beta to Alex or Wiz, the other two ascentionists?
Yeah, those guys use a heel hook that I could never make work. This season I found a different heel position and different crimp/boner to make use of that seemed to suit my proportions (thunder thighs and junkscious trunk) better. That was the main reason I stayed with it – I was getting jack of finding the midget sequence impossible, I was about to delete it from my hit-list completely.
Besides climbing and naming strange boulder problems in Blueys – a very peculiar past time – what other training and climbing have you been doing lately?
Nothing too crazy really, just training at Camp St Climbing and some fingerboarding and snatching (Ed. one snatches on a Snatch Board, which is’ like a mini campus board. But with super shit holds’) in my shed. Up until a month ago I was still trying to establish a routine of training and climbing – I was struggling with it, now I’m a bit more “on the horse” thanks to Lee tricking me into trying The Red Project.
We know little brothers are notoriously easy to trick, but how did Lee trick you?
Lee tricked me by saying, ‘Yo, poindexter, you should come get shut down on this sharp slab in the sun. You and your cavernous acetabulums! Muuhoo hahaha.’ Then he flurried his vampire 🧛🏼♂️ cape and vanished behind the armchair in the corner. I moved the armchair away, he was hiding behind his fingers, and I said, ‘Cool, sounds grouse, broseph.”
You recently changed your work situation from a long commute down into Sydney to right next door in Katoomba, how has that affected your climbing?
Now I climb. It’s made all the difference. I was struggling my arse off – finishing Uni then going into a full-time + commute job was not conducive to training/climbing/being in the world.
We know your big brother Lee bolted the route and has been trying it for a while now, have you been working it together?
Yeah we’ve been working it together fairly exclusively… not anymore though 😜
Do you have any other projects that you’re keen to knock off while you’re in form?
Yep. Sure do. Feel like a climber again. It’s nice, I’m not as strong as I have been (by a fair way) but I feel the ball is rolling and with a bit more dragging/training
***Wow, still more questions!***
Any plans for a quick trip to the Frankenjura to get back on Action Directe?
Yeah for sure. Action Directe is not dissimilar from The RED Project in my mind, with regard to what it represented when I first started climbing. It would be nice to tie a little bow around that story too. Possibly next year if finances allow.
There seems to be a rich vein of success coming out of the Mountains right now, with lots of strong climbers getting up lots of routes and talented young whipper-snappers nipping at their heels, do you put this down to anything in particular?
There are a lot of climbers around, whether they’ve moved here or grown up here. I don’t know if I’d put it down to anything much, just psyched people vibing off one another, sharing energy, psych and possibly bodily fluid – there is a real training culture up here and obviously there are heaps of cliffs for which to throw yourself at – train, get stronger, climb harder. Whatever.
You’re one of the Kings of the Kids at Camp St Climbing, have you taken anything away from coaching kids?
Oh yeah, it’s fun. Lee and I have been training a group of kids/young adults for a few years – consistently the same group.
Whether you’re giving instruction to someone or working on something yourself (technically or more strength orientated) – not to be too overbearing/forceful with how to’s and why for’s and don’t do’s, more subtly and let time do its thing – create the environment and let it happen. You put a seedling in the dirt, there is a massive element of “letting it do its thing”. Same same, whether you’re training yourself or helping to facilitate another progress.
Do you have any words of advice for all the other climbers out there with big dreams to climb the big numbers?