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Our clothing is designed to be worn by real people who will put it through its paces in a host of outdoor environments, from the British countryside to the peaks of some of the world’s highest mountains. We wanted models who would reflect our users so that you could see the clothing as it was meant to be worn. We selected our models from an application group who were nearly all climbers, hill walkers and outdoor enthusiasts. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this process turned up some interesting characters.

Drew did the modelling for our entire men’s range and during the shoot, we spent a day chatting to him at one of his other jobs; working at The Climbing Works in Sheffield. He may not be the typical skinny climber’s build, but he’s definitely built to boulder and comes with a climber’s quintessential understatement and straightforwardness. As he said when we asked him to do this interview:

“Don’t make it tacky and cliché. I like climbing for what it is. I’m less bothered by all the fluff.”

(Hopefully we’ve done you proud Drew!)

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What made you apply for the modelling job at Rab?

Experience. I always hated having my photograph taken so I guess it was an attempt to break out of my comfort zone. That and I didn’t think I would get it as I was away in Scotland for the first week of casting!

When did you start climbing?

I used to climb with my old man when I was young, about 8 or 9 but my first memories were that it scared the shit out of me and I didn’t enjoy it. The ‘obsession’ began when I went to uni; I went to Bangor University in North Wales and studied Sports Science with Outdoor Activities meaning that some of my modules allowed me to go climbing and kayaking each week.  Snowdonia is probably one of  the most diverse area’s when it comes to climbing in the UK, especially when you consider the size of it.   With plenty of likeminded friends at uni it was ideal and we got out all the time.  Were all still really close now and regularly meet and try and climb for at least a week a year together. Before uni I didn’t consider myself ‘a climber’ more someone that just went a few times.

What sort of climber would you describe yourself as? Sport climber? Boulderer?

I started with trad and then got into bouldering at uni. I’ve done bits of everything but mainly bouldering and when at uni I basically only bouldered. After doing a ski season in Banff I sport climbed for around 3 years but since moving to Sheffield I’ve mainly focused on bouldering again. I’m way more drawn to movement now I’ve matured into my climbing, and would rather a good day out with friends over projecting at limit all the time. Of course it’s still good for the ego to have achieved something hard but it’s much less important to me than it was say 5 years ago.

What’s your best moment/memory from climbing?

Erm.. I don’t know if I have one, I am quite lucky that I’m not sure if one alone sticks out.  I had a three month trip in the states with a friend which was pretty incredible, we did Bishop, Yosemite, Smith Rock and then Squamish.  Whilst at Smith Rock we rigged a high line with a couple of locals at the top of the Monkey Face by throwing a weighted rope across the gap. Rationally I knew it was safe, but the whole day I didn’t get to any point where I felt comfortable; it was a battle of my mind telling me ‘what the fuck are you doing?!’

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What gets you psyched to push yourself? Grades? Lines? Competitions?

Definitely not psyched about comps myself, It’s amazing to see how strong comp climbers are and see them at the top of their game and I like the training aspect that athletes go through to prepare themselves but personally I like to be outside with friends (probably because i'm too crap to compete!). Projecting can be fun; when you’ve spent some time piecing bits together, physical problem solving where you’re working out how you need to climb, and then you have to deal with the psychological fact that you get tired part-way up and you might fluff it – I enjoy that.  Otherwise... yeah, good places good people good rock.

Best crag in the Peak? UK? World?

Mega subjective this I guess. I’m not sure this technically counts for the Peak because it’s in Staffordshire but I like The Roaches a lot.

In the UK I don’t know, it depends what you’re doing. I’ve got a soft spot for a place down in Swanage called The Promenade, more from days out I’ve had there as you’re on a tidal sea worn platform where you abseil down.   It’s very steep, thuggy climbing so you end up climbing over the sea and small zawns.  I’m not sure that I’d class it as the best climbing in the UK though.

In the world, Fontainebleau boulders are good. I go there pretty much every year. I love Font for many reasons, one being the pastries!  and Yosemite is ok I guess! (got spanked when I went mind).

You’re super-tall. Where do you come down on the height debate in climbing? Do you think you have an advantage?

*LAUGHS* That comes up a lot. If it’s vertical, just off vertical or a slab then it’s a huge advantage, no denying that.   Recently I’ve had to work at climbing like a smaller climber. From a physical point of view you miss out on a lot of the deeper shoulder locks – because you can reach through things you tend to not develop a certain range of strength which can be a disadvantage from my experience in certain stlyes. If anything is very steep it’s definitely harder, because I’m not just tall but quite heavy so from an energy perspective the battery dies fast!   You can maybe compare it to a marathon runner and a sprinter, there is a reason they are a different size.

When did you start working at The Works?

January this year. Not that long ago.

What were you doing before?

Working at Virgin Active and trading from home; I’d start trading at 6:30 then come and train, then after lunch I’d trade until about 4 usually.

What’s it like having their training facilities at your disposal?

Good. It’s awesome being here in Sheffield, which has definitely got the highest concentration of strong and psyched climbers in the country so it’s good to be inspired by other people that you can talk to about things that you are doing.

Did your grade improve since starting there?

Err.. yes.  I’m probably my strongest now from working here – it’s more efficient to get strong inside, but your movement can suffer.  The grit helps with movement though, it's kinda key along with some friction.

Do you think that Sheffield’s climbing scene is what people make it out to be?

Erm…yeah, I mean everyone is strong and psyched definitely.

What’s the best/worst part of living in Sheffield?

*LAUGH* Worst? Weather. Best is the community, really friendly scene and everyone is keen to chat and climb together. Gritstone has got to go down there too.

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What’s next?

Good question, don’t know, working it out *LAUGHS* Err yeah, definitely torn between what to do and how to get the balance. I’m working on it, but then I guess everyone is in their own way, I’m not sure that ever stops. I’m wanting to keep applying my sports science knowledge and gym conditioning programmes to climbing.

Do you have any big climbing goals/objectives in the pipeline?

I’m going through a period of low motivation, but yeah there’s tons of stuff I’d like to do. One day I’d like to climb the nose on El Capitan in Yosemite. There’s tons of places – I guess just try and experience as much as possible and see as much of the classic crags around the world.  Get stronger fingers too!

Drew in action

Testing the high line - Smith Rock. Photo credit: Steve Franklin.
Before falling off the Monkey high line - Smith Rock. Photo credit: Steve Franklin.
Violent Breed 7b+ - The Promenade Swanage. Photo credit: TokyoMagic.
Rise of the Robots 7b+ - The Promenade Swanage. Photo credit: Tommy Harris.

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